Joseph Tuttle Williams.

Education in recent sociology. A series of seven reprints from Education, March to December, 1921, indicating the contributions of sociologists to the science of education online

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Online LibraryJoseph Tuttle WilliamsEducation in recent sociology. A series of seven reprints from Education, March to December, 1921, indicating the contributions of sociologists to the science of education → online text (page 1 of 8)
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A series of seven reprints from Education^ March to

December, 1921, indicating the contributions

of sociologists to the science of education


JOSEPH T. WILLIAMS, Ph. D., (Columbia)


Newcomb & Gauss, Prin^sbrs



For several years it has been my work to teach both Sociology and
the Principles of Education to prospective teachers among college stu-
dents. As material for the latter course I have found myself drawing
increasingly from the writings of the sociologists. What our sociol-
ogists have to contribute to the science of education has not been
adequately recognized. To promote this recognition for the ends it
may serve has been the purpose of these seven articles. Of course,
the publications of the six authors considered do not exhaust what
sociology has to contribute to education, nor do these sketches by any
means exliaust the six. This is but a preliminary study. I am indebted
to the Editor of Education for bringing this material to the attention
of the teaching profession.


Drury College,

Springfield, Mo.

Dec. 15, 1921.



Chapter I. Although no longer new, Ward's contribution has had
great influence on recent soeiologj'. Unceasingly Ward urged education
as the sole means of social progress. He shows education to be man's
supreme method and opportunity if he would control his social destiny.
He repudiated Galton's contention of the irrepressibility of genius. Most
often genius remains undiscovered. Society is to be enriched by drawing
forth the latent qualities of the masses. The universal diffusion of ,
scientific knowledge furnishes the means to this end. Page 1.

Chapter II. The organic conception of mind underlies the social phi-
losophy of Cooley. In it alone we discover the true relation between the
individual and his group. Any society or social group implies a union
by means of a common consciousness. A school group is an illustration
of organized mind. The pupil shares in a common consciousness which
determines him and to which he also contributes. Family, playground,
and school groups are the main determinants of the growing personality
of the child. Apparently the character of one's group memberships is
the essential thing in one's education. Definition of a universitJ^

Page 11.

Chapter III. A search for the means of social progress is the task
undertaken by Todd. In a lengthy definition, progress is seen to be a
complex of many factors, all centering about human well-being as their
aim. A prerequisite consideration in any program of progress is the
character of human nature, that is, of the self. Fortunatety, human
nature is found to be plastic and adaptable, rich in variety and possi-
bility. One has many possible "selves" ; which of them shall dominate
is mainly a matter of the social environment. A type of personality
which is not exploitive, nor even adaptive, but contrihutice, is essential
to progress. It will be secured only by a comprehensive system of social
education, which is therefore the means to progress. Page 21.

Chapter IV. Ellwood writes from the viewpoint of social psychology.
The social life is essentially psychic and sociology is essentially a
psychic science. Social life is therefore to be interpreted in such terms
as instinct, acquired habit, mental attitude, suggestion, values, senti-
ment, ideas, emotion, intelligence. It is likewise such psychic data with
which education is concerned. In fact, the human social process itself
is essentially an educative process, a consideration which is basal to the
construction of an educational sociologj'. Education is found to be the
ultimate method of social organization and of social progress. Good
citizenship requires that the social studies be central in the school.

Page 32.


Cliapter V. Numerous phases of education are touched upon by Eoss.
Of these the following are given special attention: (a) The effects of
social cont-acts upon the growth of the individual: (b) Social environ-
ment as a factor in the character of persons and peoples; (c) The place
of recreation and of art in life; (d) Eugenics and the education of
women; (e) Arguments for teaching the social sciences; (f) Relation
of the school to the government; (g) Education as protection against
mob mind. Page 43.

Chapter VI. Education assumes a large place in the sociology of
Hayes. Let us consider his treatment of social control. Through its
agencies of control, the developed society is able to direct consciously
and rationally the social process. Bxit society will work for a rational
goal only if control is united with enlightenment. Enlightened control
depends upon the prevalence of a type of personality characterized by
certain social traits. The desired type of personality, the definition of
which is elaborated by Hayes, must be a product of education. Reasons
for the belief that much greater co-operation in the social life is
attainable. Page 56.

Chapter Nil. Our sociologists urge ideas which we associate with
enlightened democracy : e. g., a belief in the latencies of the masses,
recognition of the worth of the common man, a leadership always to
be tested by the service ideal. Society being dynamic is capable of con-
tinued leorganization consistent with the growth and expression of the
humaTi self as a social being. Education is the method of progress.

Sociology may be expected to supjjly education with aims both ulti-
mate and immediate, therefore with that larger vision it lacks. Educa-
tional sociology will build on the fundamental concepts of sociology as
a basis; it will study the educational effects of numerous agencies in
the social environment ; it will define the character and ends of school
activities in reference to social aims. Page 70.

Education in Recent Sociology


f""""'"""""""""'|DUCATIONAL Sociology is a part of the field of
I «-« I applied sociology. A literature of educational
I p^ I sociology is rapidly developing. To be worth
I I while it needs the foundation of a solid soci-

^jiniiiiiiiiiDiiHniHHK^ ology. The opinions of men who are primarily soci-
I I ologists, and the educational bearing of their

I I writinsfs, have significance for students in this field,

feuch IS the purpose oi the present discussion. We
are interested in the views of these men not as individuals but as
sociologists. We want to know the place of education as they see
it in the whole movement of society. We are concerned with their
educational conclusions as parts or outgrowths of their sociological

Our present study will be limited to the writings of six repre-
sentative American sociologists: Lester F. Ward,, Charles H.
Cooley, Arthur J. Todd, Charles A. Ellwood, Edward A. Ross
and Edward Cary Hayes. Each of these will be the subject of
one article, and a seventh will deal with a summary and some sug-
gestions for an educational sociology. While Ward's contribution
is no longer new, it has had much influence on more recent writings
along this line.

Lesteb E. Waed.

In 1883 Ward published, in two volumes. Dynamic Sociology. It
remains his greatest work although followed by other significant
volumes, especially Psychic Factors in Civilization, 1893, Out-
lines of Sociology, 1898, Pure Sociology, 1903, and Applied So-
ciology, 1906. His educational views are expressed at most length


in the second volume of Dynamic Sociology and in Applied Soci-
ology. But his copious references to education and constant as-
sertion that it alone is the means to human progress are found
throughout his sociological writings covering a period of thirty
years. That faith in education as the social panacea remained
undimmed until the close of his life is evident in a number of
letters and addresses published near the end of "Glimpses of the
Cosmos," an autobiography of his literary career, in six volumes.
In volume six of the series is printed an address called "Education
and Progress," which is a partial summary and reiteration of his
educational doctrine. It was given at Oxford in 1909.

The sociologist, like the poet, lives in a house by the side of the
road as the race of men go by. What we call sociology is a study
of the social procession. It has to do with a human group that is
moving. Is it a progressive movement in the direction of a de-
sired goal, or mere drift ? Does social evolution necessarily bring
higlier conditions of life; in other words, is progress inevitable?
Is the pessimism expressed recently in a cosmopolitan daily, "The
world is like a squirrel in a revolving cage, going nowhere with
great rapidity," justified of the social process in general ? How
significant is the human will in the process ? How far can we
hope to determine our social destiny 'i These are problems for the

Volume one of Dynamic Sociology has to do with the evolution
of the physical world and with man as the product of natural
forces. Man's consciousness was at first a negligible factor in his
evolution. But the evolutionary process in producing the mind of
man, capable of unlimited adaptation, marked him off as distinct
and superior to the rest of nature. Man has become conscious of
the movement of which he is a part. He looks about and finds
it is possible within limits to understand and direct the process.
The human will, therefore, enters as a factor, and the process be-
comes at least in part self-directive. This is a matter of the utmost
importance. Man's social destiny is in his own keeping. Ward


urges unceasingly the possibilities to come from the conscious
direction of social processes, and the superiority of conscious over
unconscious control, a point of view of great significance in the
history of thought. From this point we have to consider the place
of man's knowledge and of his conscious effort in the social process.

Ward concluded that the end of life is happiness, that such is
what men individually and collectively seek. He was unquestion-
ably influenced by the ethics of Utilitarianism. But with Ward
it is less a matter of the individual happiness quest than in the
earlier utilitarian writings. He is concerned with the collective
organization of happiness, happiness for all by combined social

The problem throughout volume two of Dynamic Sociology con-
cerns what the author calls conation, which may be defined as
striving, or more particularly, intelligent striving. We have al-
ready seen that man strives after happiness. But any direct pur-
suit of happiness is barren of results. There is a series of more
immediate ends necessary as means to collective happiness, the
ultimate goal. Happiness is reached by a series of steps each lead-
ing directly to the next. These are Education, Knowledge,
Opinion, Action, Progress and Happiness. Education is therefore
the initial means in the organization of happiness. The formula
might be abbreviated to read : Education is essential to the spread
of knowledge and therefore to the creation of that dynamic public
opinion which alone can result in progress in the direction of or-
ganized happiness. As Professor Ellwood puts it: "Ward saw
clearly that the social life of man is of a nature of a developing
social mind; that to control action we must control opinions, be-
liefs, ideas and standards."

Education is then the basal condition of progress. Not only is
education the initial step, but with it accomplished all the other
steps follow automatically. Ward's subliine ^^th in education as
the means to social welfare is shown in a passage in Applied Soci-
ology. Four of the terms of the series leading to the organization
of happiness, he says, are practically beyond the reach of social
action, and "only in the first term, Education, do we find anything
tangible, anything upon which society can directly lay hold and
exert its power to change, modify and improve. But it was also


fouiul tliat the entire series of means are so related and dependent,
each upon the immediately antecedent one, that whatever affects
any one affects all above it, so that it is not necessary to apply
force to any of the intermediate terms, as the force applied to the
most remote term is communicated automatically through the entire
series and ultimately cxj^ends itself without loss in transmission
upon the end itself. The rude comparison made of a row of
bricks stood on end, of which it is only necessary to touch the
first one to see them all fall in succession, is a perfect illustration
of the process and one within the comprehension of all."^ Let fall
the brick of education and humanity may be expected to move
on in happy procession.

Education is the sole means to economic reform. Ward dis-
played impatience with projected social and economic reforms
not preceded by educational changes. Social reform other than by
educational means is a chimera. "There can be no equality and no
justice, not to speak of equity, so long as society is composed of
members equally endowed by nature, only a few of whom possess
the social heritage of truth and ideas resulting from the laborious
investigations and profound meditations of all past ages, while
the great mass are shut out from the light that human achieve-
ment has shed upon the world. The equalization of opportunity
means the equalization of intelligence, and not until this is at-
tained is there any virtue or any hope in schemes for the equaliza-
tion of the material resources of society."^ Earlier passages ex-
press the same idea. ''It is high time for socialists to perceive
that as a rule they are working at the roof instead of the founda-
tion of the structure they desire to erect. The distribution of
knowledge underlies all social reform. So long as capital and
labor are the respective symbols of intelligence and ignorance the
present inequity in the distribution of wealth must continue."^

The world's intellectual heritage belongs to all men. "Ward
makes the strongest plea for a general diffusion of knowledge.
"In the administration of the social estate the first and principal

1 Applied Sociology, p. 280.

2 Ibid, p. 281.

3 Dynamic Sociology, II, p. 59S.


task is to hunt up all the heirs and to give each his share. But
every member of society is equally the heir to the entire social
heritage, and as we have already seen, all may possess it without
depriving any of any part of it. And as the social heritage con-
sists of the knowledge that has been brought into the world, this
task is nothing less than the diffusion of all knowledge among all

All knowledge among all men sounds like the old doctrine of
pansophism; but it is not that because it has reference, not to
complete knowledge of the universe, but to the intellectual in-
heritance already enjoyed by the fortunate. It includes the
sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and
sociolog}', under which, says Ward may be grouped all the facts
and phenomena in the universe known to the mind of man. All
persons are not supposed to attain equal knowledge of the details
of these several sciences, but all should become acquainted with
their general truths.

What the world especially needs, says Ward, is a new faith in
the power of scientific education, a faith as deep and powerful
as that inspired by religious creeds in the past. Likewise we
need to understand that the ends of progress are certainly at-
tainable, through the utilization of the material and social forces
which exist in nature.

Does genius always become known ? Is it not rather subject
to opportunity, and therefore is it not probable that the genius
which remains latent is vaster in amount by far than that which
becomes known ? Ward opposed vigorously the conclusions ex-
pressed by Francis Galton in his studies of hereditary genius.
According to Galton genius is very certain to assert itself. It
tends to be irrepressible. In this view environment is a negligible
factor in the assertion of genius. Like murder genius "will out."
Moreover, says Galton, when any man attains a high reputation it
is excellent proof that he has high native ability.

Ward did not deny the worth of the evidence which Galton
submitted to prove that genius may be hereditary. But he urged

4 Applied Sociology, p. 307.


that Gallon was mistaken in his collateral thesis that actual genius
is the only genius. Hidden among the people is an amount of
genius far greater than that familiar to the world. It remains
latent. Genius is not irrepressible. It requires opportunity to
bring it out. Ward admits that human achievement has been the
work of a very small number of individuals, but, "How many
such minds there may be at any given time it is impossible to
determine because those that are kno\vn to exist are only such as
have been permitted by environment to assert themselves. Great
men then are the mentally endowed who have had a chance to
use their talents. There is reason to believe too that this is only
a small percentage of those who possess talents."^ The treasures
of the earth are segregated and exist only in rare spots, while the
treasures of human genius are somewhat uniformly distributed
and there is no region which, if properly worked, will not yield

Ward is undoubtedly correct in criticising the manner of Gal-
ton's conclusions. Galton did mistake the high position of public
functionaries for superior ability, and like coins took them at their
stamped rather than at their intrinsic value. From Galton's well
known study of the Judges of England, to whom as eminent
office holders he reputed genius, Ward deduces that their "great-
ness" is due almost wholly to their positions. Reflection upon the
subtle analysis required to distinguish hereditary elements from
environmental effects shows the naviete of Galton's method.

That those who manifest talent are but a small percentage of
those who might do so, and that human genius is somewhat evenly
distributed among all classes is not a mere assumption with Ward.
He submits proof. Chapter IX which comprises nearly one third
of the contents of Applied Sociology contains an elaborate and
detailed study of the effects of environment in producing dis-
tinguished men. It is based on investigations by Odin, Candolle,
Jacoby, Galton and others. The percentage of the eminent in a
given area is shown to be affected by density of population, near-
ness to cultural centers, and other educational and economic ele-

1 Applied Sociology, p. 133,

2 Ibid, p. 237.


ments present as environmental factors. The investigation is
centered in France but it includes also England, Germany, Italy
and Spain. We have space here only for conclusions. Ward's
conclusion is that ninety-eight per cent of the men of talent of
France, and only slightly less in the four other countries, were
provided in their youth with ample educational facilities. And
only about two per cent of those who became eminent succeeded in
struggling up to distinction after a limited or wholly neglected
early education.

And again in discussing the resources of society, the "unworked
mines" of talent among the masses. Ward concludes that only ten
per cent of these resources have been developed. Another
ten per cent are somewhat developed. There remains eighty
per cent as yet almost wholly undeveloped. The task of
applied sociology is to show how the latent four-fifths of mankind
can be turned to account in the work of civilization. Ward in-
sists that talent and genius are distributed throughout the ranks
of the uneducated in the same numerical proportion as among the
"city bom, the opulent, the nobility, and ^e academicians," and
also that a well organized system of education would increase
fecundity in "dynamic agents of society" or social leaders, at least
one hundred fold.

If it is claimed that the above calculation is not based upon
American conditions it is easy to reply that in America even few-
er men of distinction have emerged. While we have had a large
crop of so called "self made" men, the average of these is after all
not very well made, and usually fails in appreciation of higher
humanitarian values.

Genius however is relative. From Ward's lengthy discussion of
distinguished men it should not be inferred that he was obsessed
with the superman idea, as Galton appears to have been. Quite
the contrary. Genius he held to be entirely relative. There are
gradations in everything and likewise in genius. There are
aU conceivable degrees of genius. A dweller on our central
plains hears only of a few great mountains in the West.
He learns the names of the high peaks in the geography texts.
The fact is, there are whole ranges of mountaii;s almost us high,


and many more of lesser height but of the same compositon and
shape. For many purposes the latter may be the more valuable.
So it is with human ability.

Ward's principle of ''intellectual egalitarianism," a term he in-
vented, was the theme of his Oxford address, 1909. He main-
tained that there is no difference in the native capacity of man-
kind so far as social classes are concerned, that the brain power
is the same at the various levels, and that even the lowest serfs and
slaves have had the same potential powers and faculties as those
who have controlled and exploited them. Inequality among in-
dividual minds he readily conceded, but maintained that much
of this inequality is but apparent and is best interpreted by the
term "intellectual individuality."

Criticisms of Ward's views are easy to make. Perhaps he un-
derestimated the interdependence of institutions. He may not
have appreciated well enough the organic conception of society,
and so failed to see the reciprocal relation of forces operative in
the social process. An illustration of this is his professed non-in-
terest in social and economic reforms unless preceded by education
as the initial step. It may be argued that direct attempts at
social, economic and political reforms may themselves be the very
best means of educating the people in such matters. And with
social reforms secured, the task of education itself is easier. Still
his conclusion is in the main correct. Stability in social reform
is certainly dependent on changes in ideas, standards and values.
The experience of Boards of Health in our large cities furnishes
an illustration of this kind. They have usually been invested with
large powers which they found impossible to use unless preceded
by extensive educational propaganda.

A second criticism is in the narrovmess of his definition of
education. He considered the problem of education to be the
universal distribution of the extant knowledge of the world. It is
so stated in Dynamic Sociology and accepted unchanged in later
works. Social participation as an educational factor is lacking.
We do not believe today that mere diffusion of knowledge assures


effective citizenship. And what is the kind of knowledge to be
distributed ? Although Ward included sociology as one of the
six sciences in his hierarchy, there is little emphasis upon appreci-
ation of social knowledge as we have begun to use the term. For
instance, he defined Progress as "success in harmonizing natural
phenomena with human advantage," and Dynamic Opinion as
"correct views of man's relation to the universe." Ward's em-
phasis upon the mastery of nature is in fact a reflection of nine-
teenth century natural science. While we admit that man's con-
quest of nature and his knowledge of natural phenomena have re-
acted powerfully upon human affairs, nevertheless the problems
of applied sociology have to do less with the relations of man to
the universe than with the relations of man to man.

On the other hand it may be urged in favor of Ward's position
that in nature he included social forces. But in contrast to the
physical environment they represent a division of nature over
which man has attained little control, due in part to their com-
plexity and obscurity. "He has made the winds, waters, fire,
steam and electricity do his bidding . . . One field alone re-
mains unsubdued. One class of natural forces still remains the

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Online LibraryJoseph Tuttle WilliamsEducation in recent sociology. A series of seven reprints from Education, March to December, 1921, indicating the contributions of sociologists to the science of education → online text (page 1 of 8)