Archbishop Whately cites Adam Smith

in the former’s Introductory Lectures in Economics at Oxford (1831). He has some interesting things to say about the value of public education at mitigating a problem arising from overly specialized labor.

While primitive society’s people, who are jacks of all trades, masters of none, have no deep specialized knowledge such as “civilized” society’s people, the mass of people in civilized society risk–without public education intervening–becoming “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

In an overly-specialized society (or perhaps one that narrowly channels learning into whatever is easily tested), peoples’ “invention” is killed, and the population falls into a “drowsy stupidity… that benumbs the understanding.”

It is here that one sees public education’s great worth, at elevating the citizens’ standards in life, and keeping them away from “all that is gross and corrupting.”

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