Remarks by Ralph Borsodi on the dedication of the first School of Living building (1936)

The School of Living is not truly a school; it is even less an institution; it is least of all just a building. It is true that when spelled with capitals it is all of these things. But long before it materialized into any of them, it was first of all an idea. But it has become more than an idea. It is now an attitude towards life and toward the problems of society; above all toward the problems of human nature — particularly between those who love one another. To make of all living a problem in education is to adopt a definite philosophy of life.

When we moved out of the city and into the country, we made a startling discovery. We, who were proud of our educations, who had achieved a measure of success in the competitive struggle called New York, discovered how little we knew. Chickens were problems, a sow a dangerous beast, a garden a great mystery. Property was something about which we white collar proletarians knew nothing at all. Everything we discovered in the country convicted us of ignorance.

We began to slowly suspect that we who were so proud of our science and our knowledge, might be equally lacking in knowing what we should know as citizens, as parents, as husband and wife. We suspected even more, that our relatives and friends, that people generally, were equally ignorant – that what was really of first rate importance was being neglected by society for what was of secondary importance; that in some manner we moderns had confounded means and ends, and that not living, but manufacturing, was the subject of modern education.

So the Borsodis decided to go to school again. But we decided that the school should not consist of a class room; that it should have neither teachers nor pupils; that it should have no courses and no graduates. We decided that the school should be everywhere that we lived; that we should teach one another and learn from one another; that the subject of our study should be living, and that there should be no graduation from this school until we graduated from life itself.

Life has come to mean to us learning how to live. That it may come to mean that to our friends, and to all people everywhere is our wish as we join here in dedicating our new building.