Education must have two foundations --morality as a support for virtue, prudence as a defense for self against the vices of others. By letting the balance incline to the side of morality, you only make dupes or martyrs; by letting it incline to the other, you make calculating egoists.
Education, which was at first made universal in order that all might be able to read and write, has been found capable of serving quite other purposes. By instilling nonsense it unifies populations and generates collective enthusiasm.
Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sakebut for the nations sake. Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not military preparednessfor armed might is worthless if we lack the brain power to build a world of peace; not our productive economyfor we cannot sustain growth without trained manpower; not our democratic system of governmentfor freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.
For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.
Gentlemen, you are now about to embark on a course of studies which will occupy you for two years. Together, they form a noble adventure. But I would like to remind you of an important point. Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.
Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. 'Light Give me light' was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.