(CCSLQ-17) Education Without Values

This is part of a series (typically it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 

Education wo Values
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

Did you carefully read the above quotation? I know I didn’t the first time. Even though I was familiar with The Abolition of Man (which is where some places claim this expression is from – but it is not), I didn’t see why there is a part of the statement Lewis would not agree with. Instead I focused on the fact it was saying that a valueless education might make a person clever, but without morals it really only makes you more like a devil.

In early 2014 when I was doing research on this statement I emailed the late Dr. Bruce Edwards because I knew he’d be able to help me. Part of his answer was “I don’t even think it expresses truth. Neither Lewis nor I believe that there is such a thing as ‘education without values.'” But even if you did believe it was possible, it would clearly not be “useful” as the expression suggests.

Even though I haven’t been able to locate when this statement was first attributed to Lewis, it is most likely someone was trying to paraphrase him. Then another person didn’t notice it wasn’t an exact quotation and shared it without verifying it. So, when you read something, whether it be attributed to Lewis or someone else, it is important to read it carefully.

WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):

“A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.”
from The Abolition of Man (Chapter 3) 


“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes.”
from The Abolition of Man (Chapter 1) 


The next quote examined is:

“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.”

Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 1/16/2016

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