This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
... In general, where the exact or scientific method can be applied, rational selection between the mores is possible. But this is chiefly, if not entirely, as things now are, in that part of societal activity where men have to do with actual, concrete, natural objects rather than with each other or with some higher power whose existence cannot be scientifically proved - that is, where they react upon natural environment in the effort to preserve life, or to preserve it more satisfactorily. ... - Keller, Societal Evolution, pp. 140, 141.
. . . We now take the continuous discovery and immediate spread of mechanical inventions for granted, because we grant patents for them, and a patentee can make a fortune by pushing his ideas. But no patents are granted, because no monopoly is possible, for inventions in social organization. Though it may occasionally pay a railway company to advertise a general notion, say of country walking, the inventors of the Boy Scouts have had to spend unrewarded years in laborious propaganda, and in still more laborious collection of subscriptions, before their ideas could be made effective. - Wallas, The Great Society, pp. 352, 353.
In other words, when we come to social organization, to dealing with persons rather than things, we find that our social telesis is crude, and necessarily so, because the science of society which would guide it is still crude. As Keller says elsewhere:
. . . We are but at the beginning of the scientific study of human society and the way for a long distance ahead is beset with all manner of difficulties unknown to natural science. - Keller, Societal Evolution, p. 89.
In primary groups there is some telesis. A group may "cultivate" the friendship of a newly arrived person. Some leaders in fashionable society are adepts at bringing together persons who will be congenial, and in making introductions that ripen into marriage or lifelong friendship.
The social mind is not beyond the reach of telic action. During a political campaign we see elaborate attempts to manufacture public opinion, and they are sometimes successful. Teachers strive to keep the social mind of a school in tune with certain ideals; in this some succeed better than others; this is the way the best school government is maintained. By far the most effective method of applying telesis to the social mind, and through that to social organization as a whole, is through education. When the leaders of thought in a country agree upon the ideal toward which they wish to work, the teachers of the country take it up and instill it into the minds of their pupils. Then, if the schools are efficient, that ideal will become the ideal of the country. It will take two generations to do this - one to train the teachers, and one to train the pupils. Then it may take a third generation to remake the social organization in accordance with the ideal so that this ideal will be actually operative. Of course it must be granted that human nature sets limits to what can be accomplished in this way, but it is probably impossible to define them. The careful observer, while gaining an intimate acquaintance with various peoples, either by travel or by studying history, meets constant surprises in the kinds of ideals to which human nature is able to conform itself through either tradition or education.
Education has a bearing upon every social problem, and every social problem also has a bearing upon education. . . .
The task of social regeneration is essentially a task of education. . . .
In the higher education, the social sciences must be especially emphasized, because it is those who receive higher education who become the leaders of society, and it is important, no matter what occupation or profession they may serve society in, that they understand the bearings of their work upon social welfare. . . .
It is therefore not too much for the sociologist to say, agreeing with Thomas Davidson, that education is the last and highest method of social evolution. The lowest method of evolution was by selection, and that, as we have already emphasized, cannot be neglected. The next method - of adaptation ... or social regulation by means of authority, must indefinitely persist and perhaps increase, rather than diminish; but the latest and highest method of social evolution is not through biological selection nor through the exercise of despotic authority, but through the education of the individual, so that he shall become adjusted to the social life in habits and character before he participates in it. Human society may be modified, we now see, best through modifying the nature of the individual, and the most direct method to do this is through education. ... - Ellwood, Sociology and Modem Social Problems, pp. 313-321, first edition; 260, 261, revised edition, with alterations. Copyright, 1910, 1913, by the American Book Company, Publishers.
. . . Theoretically the public school, and especially the universal elementary school, would seem to be a most effective agency through which to propagate reforms. As a matter of fact, it is not an effective agency of quick reform, largely because it must limit its program to materials that have become so clearly crystallized as to be readily taught by all teachers and so universally recognized and understood as to be accepted without question by all elements of the population. Unless an organized body of subject-matter exists, it is futile to try to "teach" something on an extensive scale. The constant complaint of the critic that the schools do not "teach" this, that, or the other important or unimportant subject, virtue, art, or skill, owes its querulous inefficacy, nine times out of ten, either to the simple fact that there is nothing available in "teachable" form, or to the equally simple fact that important elements in the population would interpose a quick objection to the proposal. - School and Home Education, Vol. 34, p. 43, editorial.
. . . The process of education represents the greatest systematic attempt to put rational selection into operation that the world has seen. ... - Keller, Societal Evolution, p. 231.