Education - A Free People's Best Investment

By President David O. McKay

Full text of an address given Friday, March 7, at the Founders' Day exercises of the Utah State Agricultural College at Logan, Utah.

[2] CHAIRMAN ISAACSON, members of the Board of Trustees, President Madsen, Mr. Dawson (representing the Governor), Mr. Bennion, (Secretary of State), President Peterson (President Emeritus of the Agricultural College), Elder Sonne, and other distinguished guests, students, patrons and friends of the Utah State Agricultural College:

It is indeed a pleasure -- to me an opportunity -- to join you in this session of the College Founders' Day Celebration. As I extended greeting to these men, friends, patrons, my admiration of President Madsen was heightened. As I listened to him launch out to introduce by name each distinguished visitor and official sitting on the platform, I thought -- What courage; and how admirably he performed that greeting! It is an indication that there is no difficulty ahead of this school which he will not meet with courage and success.

As I was driven by President Henry Smith up through these beautiful valleys this morning in less than two hours, I was reminded of a youthful experience I had with my father who, at that time, had sheep back on the hills at the head of Blacksmith Fork. On one occasion I helped him haul wool down through Mantua, and Brigham City to the shipping place in Ogden.

As I recalled that experience, and associated with it the means of travel and other primitive conditions when the pioneers settled this valley, and even later when the founders established this institution, I thought how greatly blessed we are in this mechanical era -- now specifically designated the Atomic Age.

I congratulate you students on being the recipients of all the achievements of the past. As they contribute to your development, may you devote your efforts toward the advancement of the children of men.

I should like to say a few words this morning on "Education -- A Free People's Best Investment."

THE UTAH STATE Agriculture college has always considered that its fundamental policies should be to foster and improve full economic freedom in our Republic. Emphasis has been made this morning upon the agricultural phase of this institution. I have sensed the basic need of such instruction ever since my father planned in early days to spend a week or so every year attending conventions given by the college; and then, later, more directly through my sister and brothers who have been students and teachers in this institution.

The fostering of full economic freedom lies at the base of our liberties. Only in perpetuating economic freedom can our social, political, and religious liberties be preserved. However that is a theme in itself.

There are many who believe sincerely that the liberties of the individual as vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States are in dire jeopardy. There are some who doubt it, thinking that humanity will weather this crisis as it has surmounted others in the past.

For example: "The world is passing through troublous times. Young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything. As for girls, they are forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior, and dress."

When was that written? In the year 1274 -- 670 years ago! (Laughter)

"My grandad, viewing earth's worn cogs,

Said things are going to the dogs.

His grandad in his house of logs,

Said things are going to the dogs.

His grandad in the Flemish bogs,

Said things are going to the dogs.

His grandad in his old skin togs,

Said things are going to the dogs.

There's one thing I have to state,

The dogs have had a good long wait!"

SUCH EXPRESSIONS of experiences of the past lead some to wonder whether present-day apprehensions of impending world catastrophe may not pass as have forebodings of other generations.

Let us today be appreciative of the fact that in the United States everybody has the right to express his or her own interpretation of impending events, and that we can think and speak as we please without fear of oppression or punishment.

However, students, we must not let complacency blind our eyes to the real dangers threatening to destroy us. Judging from the written and expressed opinion of many of our leaders, our government if facing the greatest crisis in its history.

Let me give you some of the latest: General Albert C. Wedemeyer said during a recent visit to Utah: "As intelligent and patriotic Americans you must recognize that our free society faces perplexities and perils, vaster in scope and more challenging than ever before."

Donald R. Wilson, National Commander of the American Legion, in a speech delivered before a luncheon meeting of business and civic leaders in New York, describes present-day conditions as a period of international tension. "A time when the United States of America at a dozen different points over the globe finds itself beset by problems which are tremendous in their magnitude, and which will be world-shaking in their ultimate solution, whatever those solutions may be -- a time when America finds itself threatened not only from without but at a time when America finds itself equally threatened from within.

"It behooves me and you, therefore, to take more time than we do to subject ourselves and our countrymen and our government to a frank, open, and almost brutal appraisal of what we are and where we are going, and what our ultimate destiny may be."

MR. W. C. MULLENDORE, President of the Southern California Edison Company, speaking before the annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, at Atlantic City, New Jersey, just last November offers this warning:

"Over far too long a period now, we, the people of the United States of America, have been squandering our heritage and blindly following the old, treacherous, but often beguiling, ways which lead backward and downward from the un- [14] frequented heights of liberty to the lowlands of tyranny and despair where the great bulk of mankind has lived for practically the whole of human history. * * *

"Thus beguiled and misled, during the first half of the Twentieth Century, we have traveled far into the soul-destroying land of Socialism, and made strange alliances through which we have become involved in almost continuous hot and cold wars over the whole earth. In this retreat from freedom, the voices of protesting citizens have been drowned by raucous shouts of intolerance and abuse from those who led the retreat and their millions of gullible dupes, who are marching merrily to their doom carrying banners on which are emblazoned such intriguing and misapplied labels as 'social justice', 'equality', 'reform', 'patriotism', and 'social welfare'.

"Intoxicated with pride in our achievement, immersed in the interesting problems still unsolved, we have left unguarded the gates through which are pouring destructive hordes and forces of a 'new invasion of barbarism.'"

THE PRESIDENT of the United States, speaking before a joint session of Congress January 9, 1952, confirms the opinion of these men as follows:

"The United States and the whole free world are passing through a period of grave danger. Every action you take here in Congress, and every action that I take as President must be measured against the test of whether it helps to meet that danger. * * *

"We are moving through a perilous time. Faced with a terrible threat of aggression, our nation has embarked upon a great effort to help establish the kind of world in which peace shall be secure. Peace is our goal."

Paralleling the dangers just enumerated, the nation is threatened with a disintegrating influence of moral turpitude Honesty seems to be outmoded. The stability of the family life, I am sorry to say, is crumbling. Loyalty and patriotism have lost their ardor. Crime and lawlessness, particularly among young people, are increasing alarmingly.

The recent revelations of dishonesty, corruption and malfeasance of characters have shocked the American people. The integrity of this great nation is being undermined. From the Uniform Crime Reports Bulletin we learn that during the first six months of 1951, for example crime jumped 5.1 per cent in cities and 4 per cent in rural areas, compared with conditions of the previous years. Auto thefts rose 18.6 per cent in the cities, and 20 per cent in the rural areas during the six months period as compared with 1950. Larcenies increased 7.9 per cent in urban communities and 12.9 per cent in rural districts. Sex offenses showed a 6 per cent increase in the cities, and were down 2.4 per cent in rural areas. On the other hand, negligent man-slaughters which were down 3.2 per cent in urban areas, rose 21.3 per cent in rural districts.

"DISTORTED ABUSED, cynically disregarded -- the standards or conduct, once regarded as sacred and inviolate, stand tattered, torn, and forgotten by those who disregard our laws.

"On the basis of finger-print arrest records received by the FBI in connection with violations of state laws and municipal ordinances, more persons 23 years of age were arrested during the first half of 1951 than any other age group."

In 1950, it is estimated that crime and criminals cost the government twenty billion dollars! Law enforcement agencies report that about 15 per cent of those arrested and fingerprinted involved young people under 21 years of age.

Now note fellow students -- In that same year there was expended on education, including high schools, five billion dollars. Five billion dollars spent for prevention, and twenty billion for punishment and protection!

To let you know what follows, I think it would be better if we paid attention to Joseph Malins' "Fence on the Cliff, or an Ambulance Down in the Valley."

"Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old;

For the voice of true wisdom is calling;

"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best

To prevent other people from falling.

Better close up the source of temptation and crime

Than deliver from dungeon or galley,

Better put a strong fence around the top of the cliff

Than an ambulance down in the valley."

NOW I WISH TO SAY constructively, for I am not one to bear pessimistic ideas, nor one to despair of hope, I think the conditions outlined are unnecessary and need not exist among an intelligent, liberty-loving people such as we have in this country. You may talk with any of them -- however their views may disagree as to solving the problems -- you will find in their hears a desire to protect country, and to maintain our way of life as founded by our fathers.

Some man said:

"Have you ever sat down and talked with men

In a serious sort of way

Of their views of life, and pondered them

On all that they have to say.

If not, you should, in some quiet hour

It's a glorious thing to do;

For back of the pomp and back of the power

Most men have a goal in view."

And I should like to sit down and talk with all these men, and with boys and girls everywhere, sincerely, about what is the greatest need we have in this country. I think it is proper education. Young people love truth. I am speaking of the majority of them. Take any normal young man, talk to him, and surely you find that he wants to do what is right. Of course, he knows more when he is in his teens than he will ever know again. That is all right. We have all passed through that period. But it is true that he wants to do that which is right, and so with all conscientiousness, I approach this suggestion that our hope of preserving our liberties, our way of life, lies in true education.

FIRST, I WISH TO SAY that education is an investment, not an expense. In this regard there has come to my attention the Utah State Agricultural College Bulletin for November, 1959, in which it is stated that the direct cost of operating the Utah Agricultural College Experiment Station during the past twenty years has been less than two million dollars. This is about one-third the total cost, the balance coming from Federal funds and private research grants. The Station at that time was conducting 127 research projects, with monetary value named as follows:

"The direct cost to Utah of operating the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station during the past 20 years has been less than $2,000,000. (This is about one-third the total cost, the balance coming from federal funds and private research grants.)

The Station is now conducting 127 research projects. Consider the annual monetary value of a few of these projects in which the Station has --

1. Developed new alfalfa varieties and improved cultural practices that can increase hay production one ton per acre, adding to the value of the crop in Utah, $5,000,000.

2. Developed improved mixtures, and fertilizer and management practices for Utah's irrigated rotation pasture lands that can double forage production per acre. This alone would support a 25 per cent increase in dairy products in Utah which would add to the dairy-men's income, $6,000,000.

3. Developed improved breeding, feeding, and management practices that have increased the productivity per unit from beef cattle, sheep and swine and added to the annual income from the livestock industry, $2,000,000.

4. Made possible increased hatchability of turkey eggs. Estimated annual value, $100,000.

5. Developed turkey rations, using increased amounts of barley and alfalfa meal; savings in feed costs for turkey producers in Utah per year, $500,000.

6. Developed improved pruning methods for peaches which will increase yield of fruit 50 per cent; worth annually to Utah fruit growers, $350,000.

7. Conducted research in celery growing which aided in the establishment of an industry worth annually to the growers, $500,000.

8. Developed superior, high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of wheat, oats, and barley, which increased the annual value of these cereals in Utah, $3,000,000. (There is the added value to the milling, feed, and baking industries in the state.)

9. Shown dry land wheat production can be increased five bushels per acre through use of nitrogen fertilizer, added a new income in Utah of $1,000,000.

10. Saved the alfalfa seed industry from destruction by lygus bugs; increased annual yield from one to ten million pounds. Value in added income to Utah per year, $2,500,000."

THE TOTAL OF THE TEN projects amounts in improvements to the State of exactly $22,950,000, with an expenditure, so far as the State is concerned, of $2,000,000.

I congratulate the Faculty, the Board of Trustees, and all who have contributed to that great achievement!

Many of you remember having read the illustration given by Newell Dwight Hillis on the value of an education. Said he:

"The test of a man's value is an intellectual one. The largest wastes of any nation are through ignorance. Failure is want of knowledge; success is knowing how. Wealth is not in things of iron, wood and stone. Wealth is in the brain that organizes the metal. Pig iron is worth $20 a ton; made into horse-shoes, $90; into knife blades, $200; into watch springs, $1000. That is raw iron, $20; brain power, $980. Millet bought a yard of canvas for one franc, paid two more francs for a hair brush and some colors; upon this canvas he spread his genius, giving us "The Angelus." The original investment in raw material was 60 cents; his intelligence gave that raw material a value of $105,000."

I have said on another occasion that the most potent influence in training our youth to cherish life, to keep their word of honor, to have increased respect for human kind, and love of justice, is the life and personality of the teacher.

IF THE PEOPLE of the United States would have the highest returns for their financial investment in education, they must as a matter of sound business judgment have in all our schools, teacher of outstanding leadership and wholesome influence. Dr. Ralph Macdonald rightly portrays as follows the high class of men an women who you should have as leaders and exemplars:

"The teachers of our young must be strong and vigorous, keen of intellect, balanced in outlook, superior in personality traits, deep-rooted in their spiritual foundations. They must have a passionate devotion to human freedom, and be anchored to an abiding faith in the improvability of man. To such an outstanding personality must be added education and the heritage of the human race, with a loving understanding of human growth and development in the precepts of democracy, in the lure of the school and in the skills of teaching."

(And that eliminates from our faculties of colleges in the United States -- Communists.)

Commenting upon this same subject, Mr. Charles Luckman, president of Lever Brothers Company, writes: "I think it is an active portrayal of the kind of people most of us expect our children's teachers to be. It is not the job-description that is amazing; what is amazing is. . .that we are so naive that we actually expect to command the services of this type of intellect at an average salary which is lower than our starting-wage for the youngsters who are just beginning to work in our factories.

"No educational system in the world could be expected to survive in the face of such absurd economic thinking." He is right.

I THINK IT IS TIME for the statesman, leading businessmen of our country, to face that situation! If we had just such teachers in every class through our grade schools, our high schools, our colleges, and our universities, we could reduce that cost of crime to the minimum. It could not be otherwise, and if we neglect it, we merely turn out into society students who are void of loyalty to their country, who look upon depredation upon society as clever, and their wilful violation of this law as entirely justifiable.

As already stated in other words, the Utah State Agricultural College in its fundamental policy has always considered the main function of education to be the preservation and improvement of the democratic way of life.

"To make young men and women self-governing, and self-directing."

To do this, however, teachers must teach students, not subjects alone; students will acquire subjects. A good teacher realizes that his most important purpose in teaching is --

First, to inspire the student to love study; awaken within him a desire to rise above himself.

Second, to teach the student how to study; train him to think. Or, in other words, inspire that student to love truth, and second, teach him how to find it. Accomplish that, and the student will do the rest, as he should.

I know that we shall still be facing the eternal question, "What is truth?," but in the search to find it, the soul rejoices.

THERE ARE TEN THOUSAND boys and girls in the 4-H Club, associated with this school, in which students are given training pertaining to the Hand, the Head, the Heart, the Home.

In my opinion, the highest, noblest purpose in all our education from the grades to the university, is to teach citizenship and noble character. I believe that the thousands of students who have entered these halls have been made to sense by absorption and by inference, that a man's character is greater than intellectual attainments or social privileges; that "every thought creates character; that every act is an incarnation of character; that every decision is a revelation of character; that habit is a pillar in the edifice of character."

Or, as Thackery puts it:

"Sow a thought, reap an act,

Sow an act, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character,

Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny."

THE BIBLICAL SAYING that "every idle word that men shall speak they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgement" has added meaning in the student's mind when he reads in his psychology class, as you adults and I read in youth in James' "Psychology":

"We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle, the Jefferson's play, excuses himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, 'I won't count this time.' Well! he may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted none the less. Down among his nerve-cells and fibres the molecules are counting it; registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes.

"Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out. Of course, this has its good side as well as its bad one. As we become permanent drunkards by o [sic] many separate [15] drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be:

"If he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. Silently, between all the details of his business, the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within him as a possession that will never pass away. Young people should know this truth in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youths embarking on arduous careers than all other causes put together."

WITH A FACULTY of nine members, the Utah State Agricultural College opened its doors in 1890. Twenty-two students registered the first day, and the enrollment reached 139 that year. Today, the faculty numbers over 400 in the college proper in the experiment station and extension service, and has a student body of over 4000. It stands high in the rank of the leading institutions in the nation.

We pay tribute to the Founders, and to the state that established the college. Its special purpose, as stated, is to be of service in the building of the state, and the great West of which it is a part. To that end every effort is made by the faculty to give instruction in agricultural, engineering, forest range-wild life management, in addition to the purely professional aspects of these fields of study. The school of home economics trains in the various phases of homemaking and professional life. In the school of education, the students are given professional training which qualifies them for teaching and school administrative positions.

However, the greatest service that the school can render is to continue to inspire students to the truth that character is higher than intellect; that a great soul will be fit to live as well as to think.

God bless this institution as it goes forward with greater impetus to the achievement of this high purpose.

McKay, David O. Education -- A Free People's Best Investment.The Deseret News, 12 March 1952, Church sec., pp. 2,14 and 15.