Education may be an instrument of progress or of conservatism. When emphasis is laid upon the classical or so-called cultural elements, education becomes a potent force in maintaining the status quo. When the emphasis is placed upon the narrowly practical—purely trade instruction of a restricted sort—the tendency is to increase the distinction between the different classes in the community. Education only becomes a potent factor in human progress when sociological and psychological principles are introduced to determine the proper treatment of each and every child. The social standard of education is progressive; the business and the cultural standards are conservative or reactionary.
Social scientists are reaching the long-delayed conclusion that happenings in the social and the political sphere are not the result of chance, and individual impulse or willing, or of direct and arbitrary interference of an infinite power. Social and political happenings, like physical and chemical actions and reactions, occur in an orderly and law-abiding manner. Events, movements, reforms, agitations, decay or growth of institutions may, in a measure, be prophesied, directed and aided or retarded. There is, or may be, a social science (or social sciences) as well as physical sciences. Social mechanics, social physics and social chemistry are real terms.
Science is gathering data for cooperative and purposive action. Industrial evolution, city planning, workingmen's insurance, tax reform and socialism are some of the lines along which the infant science of society is slowly feeling its way—like the physical sciences of a few generations ago—in the face of opposition which is often violent, noisy, hypocritical and ignorant. Science has brought order out of chaos and guesswork in the factory. Why can it not do likewise in the nation? To the social scientist rule-of-thumb methods, secrecy, waste of natural and human resources and disregard of social welfare and of race improvement are criminal. The social scientist is becoming an expert, and is acquiring the professional spirit. He is the future maker of history.