Foster C. McClellan? Robert M. Hutchins? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Since you are a sleuth for origin histories I’m wondering if you’ve ever come across this quote or any references to its origins:
Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think…
I found this credited to Foster C. McClellan, but no details were given. I’d welcome any info on the source.
Quote Investigator: The attribution to McClellan apparently is inaccurate. In 1929 Robert Maynard Hutchins delivered a speech that contained the text given; however, the precise wording and the ordering is different. Hutchins was about to become the president of the University of Chicago, and his address to graduating students was described in a widely distributed newspaper story from the Associated Press (AP) [RHSM]:
Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, dean of the law school of Yale University, who will become, next September, the youngest president of a large university in this country, outlined today his educational belief before this year’s graduating class at the University of Chicago. …
“My view of university training is to unsettle the minds of young men, to widen their horizons, to inflame their intellects. It is not a hardening, or settling process. Education is not to teach men facts, theories, or laws; it is not to reform them, or amuse them, or to make them expert technicians in any field; it is to teach them to think, to think straight if possible; but to think always for themselves.”
Interestingly, a report on the same speech appeared in the Chicago Tribune on the next day, and the printed text diverged from the AP account. Yet, it contained the same basic material. Below an excerpt is presented and additional selected citations in chronological order.