The topic of education now has a form unimaginable in earlier eras of human history. The era of nation-building linked mass education with state power in unprecedented ways. The processes by which political authorities established universal or compulsory education began in Europe only in the 17th century, and in the US were completed only in 1918, when the last of the states then in the Union made education, up through age 16 at least, compulsory. In this country, we are, in other words, still in the first century of state-backed mass education. No wonder we struggle still to understand it. These two Tanner lectures from Danielle Allen will elucidate the nature of our confusion over the purposes of education, propose a way of resolving some elements of our confusion, and build from this resolution toward a renewal of a humanistic account of education, for which one central goal is preparation for civic life, or participatory readiness.