Daily experience shows that it is energetic individualism which produces the most powerful effects upon the life and action of others, and really constitutes the best practical education. Schools, academies, and colleges, give but the merest beginnings of culture in comparison with it. Far more influential is the life-education daily given in our homes, in the streets, behind counters, in workshops, at the loom and the plough, in counting- houses and manufactories, and in the busy haunts of men. This is that finishing instruction as members of society, which Schiller designated ‘the education of the human race,’ consisting in action, conduct, self-culture, self-control, – all that tends to discipline a man truly, and fit him for the proper performance of the duties and business of life, – a kind of education not to be learnt from books, or acquired by any amount of mere literary training. With his usual weight of words Bacon observes, that ‘Studies teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation;’ a remark that holds true of actual life, as well as of the cultivation of the intellect itself. For all experience serves to illustrate and enforce the lesson, that a man perfects himself by work more than by reading, – that it is life rather than literature, action rather than study, and character rather than biography, which tend perpetually to renovate mankind.
– Samuel Smiles. Self Help.