Educator Resources

The Don Henry Story

Newspaper Article Transcription

Character and Education

Some time ago the president of one of our great universities made a statement which at first glance seemed rather strange, coming as it did from the head of an institution of higher learning. He said that one's educational progress could not be judged by testing his intellectual development. If, said this prominent educator, we wish to know whether one is truly educated, we should inquire first about his character and second about his manners. Evidence of intellectual performance should come third.

It is a fact that too little stress has been placed upon the desirability of sound character and pleasing manners. Without these characteristics one cannot be a good citizen, or a good neighbor. If one has a fair measure of intelligence; if he has sound common sense and judgment, he can get along tolerably well without fine powers of intellectual discrimination. He cannot be a leader of thought; he cannot assist much in the solving of the problems of humanity or of his country, but he may be a fairly successful business man, a good neighbor, a happy individual. He can be all this, provided he is unflinchingly honest, thoroughly dependable, and agreeable in all his relations with his fellows.

Intellect and industry are important enough. The intellect should be disciplined and hard and sustained labor should be encouraged. But it is not enough that an engine be powerful and well-fueled. If it is driven in the wrong direction it may become an instrument of destruction. If it is not wisely guided it may be an instrument of futility. The worth of the engine depends ultimately on the man at the wheel. And the worth of an individual depends not upon what he is capable of doing but upon what he does. The direction of one's activities depends not alone upon understanding but upon purpose, and purpose is a matter of character. One who sets out to win success for himself in narrow economic terms may do it without contributing to the welfare of society. Now leaving aside for the moment what that may do for him, it must be recognized that this result is a bad thing for the community. The school is a servant of the community, and it is not doing its full part unless it seeks not only to make students competent, but to inspire them with purpose--purpose to contribute to the well-being of others. It may furthermore be said with assurance that an individual who pays no heed to moral obligations cheats himself out of the best things which life affords. If he has not learned to feel and practice a fine regard for the feelings of others, he will not be well liked. He will not fit smoothly into the associated life. This maladjustment will probably stand in the way of economic advancement and it will certainly disturb the peace of mind and serenity of spirit so essential to human happiness.