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[It was customary for students in Victorian England to graduate at age 14 and enter the job market. A recent law had just passed in England at the time of this writing (the preface says 1922), allowing youths who had graduated and started jobs to have seven or eight hours a week for compulsory education in 'Continuation Schools.' This is Charlotte's plea to use that time to give youths a real, life-enriching, character-building education, rather than using the time for more vocational training.]
A hundred years ago, just after the wars with Napoleon were over, there was a similar re-awakening to the issue of education, like we're experiencing now. Just like today, everyone knew that the result of ignorance and wrong thinking was the war, and that education could be the only cure.
Prussia [Poland/Lithuania] took the first step. They didn't start with their little children, but with the youth. Following the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and under the leadership of Karl Stein, a league of noble youth was created, called the Tugendbund. [Tugenbund is an organization compared to the KKK; based on the teachings of philosophers such as Voltaire and Rousseau, it originated under the name Order of the Illuminati. Its original purpose was to advance secular philosophy and eliminate monarchy, religion and religious morality. Their goal was for The Order to take over the world.] Prussia was miserably impoverished, but instead of looking to the arts to inspire them to great thinking, they focused on philosophy to teach them principles, and history to learn lessons by examples. As a result, their country made some progress.
That kind of intellectual renaissance wasn't experienced only in Prussia, but in all of western Europe. But, either because the time wasn't ripe, or because the people weren't worthy, what began with high ideals evolved into more utilitarian concerns and financial gain.
When the interest in 'Continuation Schools' revived, there was some envy of England's commercial and manufacturing success. By 1829, a Bavarian politician was already encouraging his people to sow the seed if they wanted the fruit. In other words, in order to make money in manufacturing, education would need to focus on vocational training rather than broadening the mind.
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We've all seen how good organization and quality teaching in Munich have improved manufacturing in German industries. But those with understanding in Germany are very much aware that 'an education motivated by money will become too narrowly utilitarian. It will lose the ideals that give education the ability to influence character.' Mr. Lecky said that 'the utilitarian theory is very immoral.'
One man rose above the rest. In 1900, Dr. Kirsehensteiner [?] happened to see an announcement offering a prize for the best essay on training youth. He wrote an essay and won the prize. His essay was reprinted as a pamphlet, and went on to influence opinion and motivate change throughout the west. In the US, John Dewey and Stanley Hall are its biggest proponents. Dr. Armstrong [Andrew? Thomas?] and Sir Philip Magnus lead the way here in England.
And what was the message of that pamphlet? The same thing that had been said a hundred years earlier in England, France and Switzerland--that a utilitarian education should be compulsory for everyone. Children and teens should be 'immersed with the concept of service, and given the skill to serve effectively.' Imagine the paradise if every person was skilled, body, mind and soul, to work for society. But what about the child himself? What about his needs and his development? Apparently it isn't important, the person doesn't matter.
It isn't that the leading educational philosophers I've mentioned would deliberately sacrifice their young people for the economic gain of their country. They believe that giving each person a role and the capability to be of use will provide him with opportunity and give him a place to belong in the world. But that's a faulty view of what education should do. We've been led to believe that we can only know
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what we experience through our senses. Only what we see with our eyes and handle will provide the food that our souls need. And it's true that when a child builds an elaborate model, his mind is involved, but it's a mistake to think that, since we can see the mind participating during work, knowledge and work are the same thing. It may be true that work provides food for the body because a job provides a paycheck. But there is no such parallel for the mind--physical work doesn't feed the mind. A mind always working at the same drudgery, never learning anything new, is like a menial laborer who's only allowed just enough food to keep his body working. England's great politicians, such as Gladstone, and Lord Salisbury, understood this. They made sure to read about lots of other things besides just politics.
WWI has forced us to realize certain things, such as the readiness of the adult mind to learn new things. We were surprised to read that 1500 soldiers applied for a class with room for twenty students! We begin to see that the minds of all people in varying circumstances and conditions, need regular servings of nutritious mind food. As it is, we'll need to make sure that everyone is provided with the mind food they need. But in the future, we hope to bring up people to be self-sustaining so they can feed themselves, not just their bodies, but their minds, too. This will be done with carefully planned education. We hope to awaken and direct every person's intellectual appetite [curiosity and desire to know] so that each person will be able to take care of his own mind.
We've already discussed what kind of intellectual food the mind needs. First of all, a good education should make children rich towards God, and not like the fool Jesus talked about in Luke 12 who was not rich towards God. A good education should also make children rich towards society, and rich towards themselves. I won't belabor the point by observing that moral bankruptcy has co-existed
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along with utilitarian education, if not been the outright result of it. The catastrophe has been accelerated by the kind of immoral madness that we've experienced in the past, the kind that are like scenes in the books Barnaby Rudge and Peveril of the Peak. Yes, we've been swept off our feet by a bad idea once again, but each instance of our national lapse in sanity has so far been short-lived because, up until now, our education has taught us not to believe lies.
We're no worse than anyone else. If we think well of ourselves as a nation, it's okay, because national pride and national modesty usually accompany each other. For instance, during times of peace, we're hyper-critical of the British working man, but we still prefer him to the hostile Austrian, or the sullen German that we fought in the war. We're only critical of our own people because we want them to be better. We know that a better man will do better work. We've heard a lot about German efficiency. Maybe the Germans do a better job at making doors that shut, blinds that draw, springs that give, and other domestic items whose components make more difference because of their extreme climate. But those are minor concerns. Perhaps our failure is that we don't give 100 percent until there's a major occasion. Give us a big job or a big war, and then we'll show what we can do.
But we probably excel in all our various industries. German women admire the fabric that we make our dresses out of. Well-dressed men wear English clothes sewn by English tailors. We might buy things 'made in Germany' because they're cheaper, but the most expensive and desired goods in Germany are advertised as 'Englisch.'
We need to remember one thing when it comes to educating adolescents. We tend to put ourselves down and deprecate each other, but, the fact is, we have nothing to be ashamed of. In manufacturing and industry, we can compete with anyone. We don't have to look to anyone else
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to teach us how to do things.
Before I get to the point I wanted to make, let's consider whether the concept of Continuation Schools has been put down more successfully anywhere than in Middle Europe. Some of those countries, especially Germany, have done everything in their power to urge efficiency with its high wages and profits. But ever since the Continuation School movement began in around 1806, the four northwest countries have done things differently. In Denmark they call their Continuation Schools a more pleasant name: People's High Schools. Perhaps the schools themselves are more pleasant, too.
Denmark was just as devastated as Germany after the wars with Napoleon. But they had experienced some new spirit after freeing their serfs in 1788, and that spirit prepared the ground for Nicolai Grundtvig, the poet/historian who became the 'Father of the People's High Schools.'
He said, 'Wherever there's the most life, that's where the victory will be.' And he saw a way to increase life by making 'Danish High Schools accessible to young people all over the country.' These schools would inspire 'admiration for what is great, love for what is beautiful, faithfulness, affection, peace, unity, innocent cheerfulness, pleasure and happiness.' Notice that nowhere does his vision even mention 'efficiency.' Yet he assured King Charles VIII that such a school would provide 'a wellspring of healing in the land' so that he would never need to fear whether the newspapers chose to praise or blame. The king listened to him. In fact, he urged an even broader implementation than the original pamphlet advised. By 1845, the dreamed-of schools began to be a reality.
We won't trace the complete history of those schools, but by 1903-4, their schools had over 3000 men and even more women. Wise men embraced the hope that 'the new Danish
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school for youth will be fortunate enough to blend all social classes into one people.'
All of the Danish High Schools bear the influence of their 'Father,' and their students sometimes sum up his teaching with the three statements, 'Spirit is might; Spirit reveals itself in spirit; Spirit works only in freedom.' We can easily trace where these statements came from. In fact, the entire movement seems to have been very Christian from its very beginning. And I don't mean Christian in a narrow, exclusive sense, but in the broad sense illustrated by Simone Memmi's fresco in Florence's chapel in Santa Maria Novella. Some of the teachers pictured there as being divinely gifted by God's spirit were actually notable pagans. Yet they were still under Divine inspiration. This seems to me to be an educational concept worth reviving, especially in these days of utilitarian vocational emphasis. Grundtvig seems to have understood this concept, although he probably came up with it on his own. His great hope is that 'above all, some knowledge of literature, especially the poetry and history of one's own country, will create a new breed of readers all over the land.'
I can't go into the question of Agricultural Schools. They say that 'the Danish Agricultural School belongs to the Danish people, and must be just as much based on Christian faith and national life as the people are.' In the carefree days before WWI, we all admired the quality of Danish butter. But did we ever think about the resolve and efficiency with which the Danish peasants went from making poor butter in their individual little farms, to manufacture butter of uniform quality in national dairy co-ops? One leading Swedish professor attributes this to the High Schools. He said, 'Enriching the soil provides the best ground
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for seeds to grow. In the same way, training the people's fertile minds in classic literature is the best way to make them productive. And this is even true for farmers.' [Thanks to Continuation Schools, ed. by Sir Michael Sadler, and published by the Manchester University, 1908.] These are serious words. They deserve our consideration at this moment when we're also at the brink of a new venture.
The three countries around Denmark watched the experimental schools with keen interest, and it wasn't long before People's High Schools sprang up in their countries, too.
The northern High Schools can only operate in the winter [when farming can't be done], so they weren't open when I was visiting. But I did notice a couple of things that I can trace to their influence. For one thing, Copenhagen impressed me as a city with a soul, unlike Munich. At the Hague, I saw a craftsman in his work clothes showing paintings in a gallery to his seven year old son. The little boy listened carefully and looked eagerly. In the great Delft porcelain factories, young workers manifested evidence of culture and gentleness in their faces and manner. But the thing that struck me most was what I saw in a general store in some remote market in Sweden. The villagers were peasants. One shop sold cabbages, herrings, cheese and calico cloth. But in its small-paned window was a shelf tightly packed with paperback books that hadn't been left alone long enough to get dusty. I couldn't make out all of the titles, but I noticed that they included books in French, German and English. I saw thin volumes of Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Ruskin, Carlyle and the latest popular literature. It made a person feel like the village was a slice of heaven. One could imagine a long winter evening in any home, with one person reading aloud as the rest of the family did the evening's chores. When friends meet, or when lovers stroll, they must have lots to talk about. How sad for us when we hear that a youth we
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know and like is quick at making friends, but the friendships never progress because they never have anything to talk about. Imagine the little plays acted out, or public readings given by the villagers. I wish such things would happen in our own country. Then the excitement of city life wouldn't be such a draw to our young people. A village with a happy community life sustained by the villagers themselves will satisfy its people so that they're content to stay.
Our upper and middle classes, whether professionals or not, are also content--not because of their money, but because of their intellectual well-being. It's their mental stimulation that makes them 'haves' as opposed to 'have nots.' You don't have to look far to find the reason why. Some people make it their business to sow seeds of discontent in the gaping minds of the masses. A full, satisfied mind passes by, but an empty mind will grasp at any new notion eagerly. And who can blame it? A hungry mind will take whatever it can get, and even a bakeshop owner tends to be lenient with a starving man who steals a loaf of bread. I'm not hesitant to say that the Labor Unrest that plagues our times isn't so much the fault of the working man, but of the society that hasn't considered that its citizens have hungry minds and they need the right kind of intellectual nourishment.
I've tried to explain that:
1. The kind of 'education' offered by Germany's Continuation Schools doesn't positively influence morals or behavior. To be honest, I haven't noticed that it's improved the quality of the goods they produce, either. [ouch!]
2. We are under no obligation to follow their example. The fact is, our manufactured goods are the better ones, as evidenced by the fact that Germans will pay higher prices for British goods.
3. But Denmark and its surrounding countries excel in the very areas we need improvement.
4. Therefore, the People's High Schools of Denmark are
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more worthy to be our model than the Continuation Schools of Germany.
5. They are more worthy because a broad education that makes knowledge of God its first priority results in worthy character, right actions, higher intelligence and more initiative.
But we can't take someone else's medical prescription. Grundtvig's Schools are for students aged 18-25, but we're dealing with students in the more challenging age bracket of 14-18. Also, the Denmark Schools are boarding schools. Since they're so dependent on agriculture, it works for most of their young people to live five months of the year every winter at one of the schools. But that's not the case here. Our country is mostly manufacturing.
But we're blessed to have been given 7 or 8 hours a week for the purpose of educating our youth. How shall we adapt Denmark's model to our situation? How can we make the most of those hours to make the best use of the student's time? If we take the easiest way, we'll just use that time to let the student do what he does all week--work 7-8 more hours for his employer, either directly by showing up at his job and producing more output, or indirectly by increasing his skill with more training. But that would be betrayal. No ethical employer really wants to take away with one hand what it gives with the other. Besides, employers trust their own staff to train their workers sufficiently. As I said earlier, it doesn't usually take much training to learn the skill to do a particular job. It's how the skill is done that matters, and that takes practice--which means more hours working on the job. Continuation Schools shouldn't exist to give technical job training. They should be for the kind of education that doesn't come from vocational classes. After all, evenings after work will still be as free as ever for technical classes, or working out at the gym, or other recreation.
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If we truly believe that the mind needs its nourishment, and that using the mind isn't the same thing as feeding it, then we'll see that this gift of 7-8 hours a week must be dedicated to things of the mind.
If we resolve to give youths some mental meat to chew on, some real mind food to digest and assimilate, then we'll find that the flood gates will be opened. An ocean of possible things to learn will overwhelm us--and we only have eight hours a week. We'll need to compromise in one of two ways if we want to make good citizens in such a limited amount of time. Good citizens need to have rational, solid opinions about things like law, duty, work, and wages. So one way is to pour opinions into them by way of lectures from the teacher, so that they'll adopt his opinions as their own. With so much to learn and such a limited time frame, the information will need to be selective. The youths are 'poured into like a bucket,' and, as Carlyle says, 'that's not exhilarating to any soul.' In that way, some knowledge is taught, and teachers and education authorities are satisfied. But the students leave school at the end of their time not fully satisfied. They're bored at work, bored in their free time, and they spend their weekends doing trivial, empty things. They become people who are excited, instead of cautious, about the prospect of a strike. If that's the outcome of our Continuation Schools, then we will have failed our youth.
That's really the challenge of education for all ages. There's so much to cover in so many fields of knowledge in order to live intelligently and with moral insight. The method of learning just one thing, but learning it so well that you can handle any kind of knowledge may work on an academic level, but it won't work if our vision is to 'Enlighten the Masses.' That method
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assumes that the mind, like the physical body, can develop in various areas with the right exercise. But recent educational thought shows us that the mind is more than that. It's independently active, it exists in everyone, and it only asks for one thing: nourishment. Feed the mind what it needs, and it will take care of all the things it needs by itself. As a well-fed worker is capable of doing his job, a well-nourished mind can do its job--it can know, think, feel, and make wise judgments in most cases. The good, noble-minded person is the one who has been fed with the mental food that's appropriate for him.
This kind of view of education naturally includes religion. It isn't just because 'his God instructs him and teaches him,' but because all knowledge falls under three types. First is knowledge of God, which is gotten first-hand from the Bible. Second is knowledge of mankind, which comes from history, poetry, stories; the customs of cities and nations, civics, the laws of self-government and morality. Third is knowledge of the wonderful world around us. Every youth should know something about the flowers in the field, the birds in the air, the stars in the heavens, the many fascinating wonders that happen every day. Every student should have some knowledge of physics, although chemistry can be reserved for the few students who are inclined that way or are headed for a career that needs it.
Here we stand on the verge of that new life for our country that we all want. We're faced with infinite possibilities on either hand--both the vast amount of knowledge in the universe, and the incalculable ability of the mind to learn. One thing we're sure of: we don't have time for short cuts. Training muscles and experiencing through the five senses may be necessary, but that's not the way the mind grows. And lectures from a teacher are rarely assimilated. The only true education is self-education--it's only when the student applies his own mind to learn that the mind is affected.
But we aren't without hope. A promising new field
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lays before us. Thousands of children even now are showing what incredible things they can do, and they do those things happily, without being coerced. They've taken charge of their own education, and they're hungry to learn simply for the sake of knowing. They want to know about things in all three categories that I listed earlier.
The fact is, a wonderful discovery has been entrusted to us. This discovery is the greatest thing to happen to education since the invention of the alphabet. Listen again to what Coleridge said, on page 106 of this book, about where great discoveries come from. He makes no distinctions about what kinds of minds receive divine great ideas. In fact, he doesn't even describe them as particularly great minds. They were just 'prepared beforehand to receive' the great ideas. If you'll forgive me for saying so, I believe that my mind has been prepared for a great idea. On the one hand, I've been hindered when it comes to academic achievement, yet, on the other hand I've had some degree of academic success. I've gradually come to realize that this capacity and incapacity aren't uncommon. Maybe that's one of the keys to education. More preparation came to me because of the unusual position I was in to test and learn to understand the minds of children. I'm anxious to tell you what my great discovery is because our methods are so simple and so obvious that people tend to grab them randomly and say, for instance, that lots of reading 'is a good idea that we've all used, more or less.' Or narration 'is a good idea, but not very original.' Yes, it's true--we've all read, and we know that narration is as natural as breathing. The value of narration varies in proportion to what's being narrated. But what we've failed to see until now is that a craving for knowledge (curiosity) exists in everyone. All people have the ability to focus their attention without measure. Everyone prefers knowledge in a literary form. People should learn lots of different things about all the different
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thoughts that humans reflect on. But learning can only happen if the person's mind participates in an active 'act of knowing.' Narration encourages this kind of actively involved self-learning, and it also assesses it. Later tests can record what was learned. You might say, 'that's nothing new.' And you're right, I don't think that any natural law seems very original or innovative. We already think of flying as pretty routine. Yet, although there may be no astonishing surprises when we look at natural laws, the results of following them can be very astonishing. We willingly submit these methods to the test of results.
'Everything isn't for everyone,' was the sad conclusion that Grundtvig, the Danish patriot and prophet, came to. He was probably thinking about the impossible obstacles that uneducated people would face with a limited vocabulary and lack of literary background. So he said 'everything isn't for everyone' in the same way that one of our own prophets says that higher education is only for the elite. Grundtvig came to the conclusion that books weren't meant for the masses. So instead, the youth of his country listened to lectures delivered by enthusiastic men who had their country's literature and history at their fingertips and could articulate it with their own personal flair. A lot of good resulted, but minds spoon-fed from a teacher's lecture will never be as stable as those who cut and chew their own mind food.
But what if it were for everyone? What if Comenius's great hope of 'all knowledge for all people' was in the process of coming true? This is exactly what we've seen happen in thousands of cases. Even in cases where the children were mentally handicapped, we've seen that any person can understand the appropriate book (one that's suited for his age) but the book has to be in literary (story) form. Students don't need anyone to explain what the story means to them and their attention doesn't wander when they're occupied this way. They can master a number of pages so well after just one reading that they can tell it back immediately, or even months later,
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whether it's Pilgrim's Progress, one of Bacon's essays, or a Shakespeare play. They add their own individual touches so that no two students tell it back in quite the same way. A natural side effect of this is that students learn to write and speak with confidence and flair, and they can usually spell well, too. This art of telling back is real education, and it's very enriching. We all do it naturally. We go over the points of a conversation or sermon or article in our mind. We're made so that only those points and arguments that we go over in our mind are the ones we retain. Haphazard listening and reading might be refreshing and entertaining, but it's only educational here and there, the random times that our attention is strongly engaged. When we go over information in our mind, we don't just retain it, we also come to understand it better. Every incident stands out, every phrase takes on new meaning, each link in an argument seems more firmly linked to the next one. What's happened is that we've taken an active part in the 'act of knowing' and what we read or heard has become a part of us. We assimilate it by rejecting what our mind doesn't need. Like the famous men of ancient times, we've discovered 'the knowledge best suited for people,' and we're surprised to find that people need the very best knowledge, conveyed in the very best form. Are we like the teachers in the Bible who were reprimanded because they took away the key of knowledge? They didn't enter themselves, and they kept those who wanted to enter from coming in.
Are we doing that today? We understand that people have to participate in the act of knowing. Nobody can learn without involving his own mind in the process. Each person has to do his own learning for himself, but it's as pleasurable and as natural as a bird singing its song. In fact, the act of knowing is a natural function. Yet we hear of apathy that prevails in most schools, while right in front us, we see youth consumed with curiosity, if we can only figure out what they want to know and how it needs to be taught to them.
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Humanistic education (learning about mankind and what affects him) whether lessons are in English or Latin, affects behavior in a powerful way. Students like knowing these things. They can cover a lot of ground because they only have to read things once. This method has been used successfully. If our Continuation Schools are going to do any good [with the limited time they'll have], they'll have to use this method in some way.
The Parents Union School [PUS, originated 1891] was started for the benefit of children taught at home. It works like a correspondence school, with program schedules sent out every term, and exams sent out at the end of the term. When the same plan was implemented in the Council Schools in 1913, the advantages became obvious because it offered the same curriculum to children of all socio-economic classes. With this single curriculum, we saw that children from the inner cities in economically disadvantaged schools did as well as children of privileged, educated parents who were concerned and involved with their children's education.
Right now, one of our national concerns is that we have no unifying shared bond of thought, nothing in common to reflect on. Undoubtedly, with a lot of reading, some links of common interest could be created. Thus, the classroom could do as much for our national spirit as the beginning of baseball season. Our plan works smoothly in Council Schools. Here's a sample of the work being done successfully and enjoyably by the highest classes: They read English, French and History from three or four books; two or three books dealing with citizenship and morals from various points of view; several works of literature that parallel the time period being studied in history; three or four books in nature, physical geography and science; and Scripture (using mostly the Bible). Every term they have a new schedule of work, often
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continuing books from the previous term. Students in Secondary Schools, or learning at home via our correspondence school, stay in Form IV (about 9th grade) for one year, and the work at that level seems like it would work for the first year or two of the Continuation Schools, with a bit of adapting. After that, the more advanced work of Forms V and VI [about grades 10-12] could be adapted in the same way. The work isn't like the regular grind of most school work, so it would be appealing to the students. It would also provide opportunities for them in public speaking and writing essays.
Probably the best test of a broad-minded education is the number of names and proper nouns that a person can use correctly and naturally when various topics come up. We all remember a character in one of Jane Austen's novels who didn't know whether the Bermudas were in the West Indies or not because she had never called them anything in her whole life!
As an example, here's an uncorrected, alphabetical list taken from a 13-year-old's exam paper. It contains 213 proper names, and all of them were used accurately, easily and with interest.
Amaziah, Ariel, Ayrshire, Arcot,
America, Austrian Army, Artemidorus, Antium, Aufidius, Auditors,
Apotheosis, Altai Mts., Assouan, Africa, Atbara, Annulosa, Arachnoida,
Armadillo, Albumen, Abdomen, Auricles, Angle, Arc.
Burns (Robert), Bastille, Bombay, Bengal, Burke, Black Hole of Calcutta, British Museum, Benevolence, Basalt, Butterfly, Beetles, Blood-vessels, Berber, Blue Nile, Baghdad, Burne Jones.
Cowper, Calcutta, Clive, Canada, Colonel Luttrel, Cleopatra, Candace, Coriolanus, Cassowary, Cormorants, Curlews, Cranes, Calyptra, Cotton grass, Chalk, Conglomerate, Crustacea, Cheiroptera, Carnivora, Chyle, Centre of Circle, China Proper, Canton, Cairo, Cheops, Circe.
'Dick Primrose,' "Deserted Village," Dupleix, Demotic characters, Ducks, Despotic Government, Doctor Livingstone,
Deposits, Delta, diaphragm, Duodenum.
England, East India Company, Economical Reform, Europe, Emperor of Austria, Empress of Russia, Emu, Eastern Turkestan, Egypt.
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France, Frederick the Great,
Frederick William of Prussia, Flightless birds, First Cataract,
Gadarenes, Gizeh, Great Commoner, George III, General Warrants, Governor General, Grace and Free-will, Greek language, Generosity, Gulls, Granite, Grubs, Gastric juice, Globules.
Huldah, Highlands of Scotland, Herodotus, Hieroglyphics, Herons, Hoang-ho, Hedgehog, Hydrochloric Acid, Hydrocarbons, Heart.
Isaiah, India, Influence of light.
Josiah, Judah, Jehosaphat, Jerusalem, Jonas, Jonah, Jesuits, Jansenists, Japan.
Künersdorf, Kuen Lun Mts., Kioto, Karnac, Khartum, Kolcheng, Kalabari.
Lord North, "Lords in Waiting "of Love, Land birds, Lamellae, Luxor, Lake Ngami, Loanda, Lake Nyassa.
Manasseh, Mongolia, Manchuria, Madras, Mahrattas, Member of Parliament, Middlesex, Methodists, Mississippi Company, Maria Theresa, Mummies, Microscopic Shells, Membrane.
Nagasaki, Nile, Nitrogenous food.
'Olivia Primrose,' Ostriches.
Pharisees, 'Primrose (Mrs.),' Philosophers. Plassey, Pitt, Prime Minister, Pragmatic Sanction, Prague, Peace of Hubertusburg, Pity, Puffins, Penguins, Plovers, Pelicans, Plants, Polytrichum formosum, Peristom, Porphyric, Puddingstone, Pepsin, Peptone, Pancreas, Pulmonary artery, Pamir Plateau, Prairies, Pyramid, Portuguese West Africa.
Rome, Rossbach, Rosetta Stone, Rhea, Rodentia.
Sea of Galilee, 'Sophia Primrose,' Surajali Dowlali, Seven Years' War, Silesia, Saxony, Secretary, Storks, Sandpipers, Seedlings.
"The Task," Treaty of Dresden, Tullus, Trade Unions, Trustees, Treasurer, Tropical countries.
Volcanic eruptions, Vermes, Vertebrate, Villi, Ventricles, Vernae Cavae, Vicar of Wakefield, Volscians, Vice President.
Wallace, Walpole, War of Independence, Wilkes, Whitfield, Wesley, War of the Austrian Succession, Water birds, Wady Halfa.
Zonga, Zambesi, Zorndorff.
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Granted, this is the work of a Secondary student, but imagine if young people in a Continuation School who couldn't read all the books in the schedule, were able to become familiar with perhaps 100 of these kinds of names in a term. I think we'd be able to satisfy ourselves that they were receiving a liberal education then. This is just the kind of work we'd like to see being done by students in Continuation Schools between the ages of 14-16. Youths aged 16-18 should be ready to handle the kind of work done by our PUS students in Forms V and VI (grades 10-12).
I'd like to point out that it isn't just the best students who answer exam questions. Usually, every student answers every question. And I've only mentioned the more humanities-related subjects, since I figure that the Head of the Continuation Schools will undoubtedly arrange for things like Math. In fact, most students have learned enough math already because of the excellent math training they got in elementary school, that I think it would be enough for students at Continuation Schools to practice the skills they already have by keeping pretend account books.
There won't be any additional cost incurred to adopt and continue the plan I propose in Elementary and Continuation Schools, beyond the cost of the books themselves. And students could pay for those themselves so that they would gradually be building up their own little library of good books that they've read, understood and gotten familiar with. I'd like to quote Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Professor at Jena, Germany:
'When we talk about education of the people, we don't mean a special kind of education. We're not talking about a condensed collection of our own spiritual and academic knowledge, watered down to be suitable for the specific urgent concerns of the masses. We're not talking about a diluted version of real knowledge that we would then condescend to dispense to the public, like patronizing benefactors. No! Only one education exists that's common to all of us.' 'We can all unite and work together to create a spiritual world that transcends the petty routine of daily life. So then, there could be a real human education, a true education of the people.'
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Eucken gives an accurate assessment of the task before us, but he doesn't offer any way to accomplish it. The only possible way to accomplish it is with the methods I've described to provide a liberal, broad-minded education. The method has already been discovered, and doesn't need to be worked out again. After all, the electric telegraph didn't need to be discovered twice.
In spite of all our protests about utilitarian education, our method actually does serve some utilitarian purpose after all. No other education pays off such dividends as the humanities. Consider this point. Instability, labor unrest, and discontent among wage-earners is a serious threat to our social life. They say that you have to act where you are. And the class of people who are involved where they are, whether it's in some diplomatic outpost of the British Empire, or an estate within England, or in Parliament, is the class that received their education from the Public Schools--the students who received an education in the humanities. No doubt there will be strong protests about the deadwood and decadence of these men, although no one can deny that they're the ones doing our national work. Their faults are many and obvious, but, still, the public work that's done for our benefit is mostly done by these men, and they can hardly be called progressive. Could there be some mistaken ideas about our fixation on progress? Are we confusing progress with motion, assuming that wherever we see activity, there must also be improvement? Yet much of the activity we see is like the waves of the ocean, always churning, but never going anywhere. What we really need is the still progress of growth that comes when a tree sends strong, solid roots downward, and results in abundant fruit growing upward. This is what progress in character and conduct is like. It doesn't come from environmental manipulation, or pressure to conform. It can only come from the inner growth of ideas received by the mind with deliberate, active involvement.
It's possible that the limited time provided will only allow a little bit of these mind-growing ideas to be offered in Continuation Schools. But a little goes a long way, as our Public School graduates prove. A final analysis concludes that it isn't
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Latin or Greek, or competitive sports programs or athletics, or an enhanced environment that bring the stability and efficiency we want to see in all classes of people. It's the humanities, taught and read in our own language.
I said before that we have a great gift with which to make some changes: we have seven or eight hours a week. In that time, we might get in, page for page, or book for book, as much education in the four years between ages 14-18 as our educated public officials got in their schools. This education would encompass all of the humanities--poetry, history, essays, plays and philosophy. I admit, classically educated students learn it in classic languages while we propose teaching it in plain English. Yet, no matter how much we may revere Greek literature, we have to admit that English literature is second to none. We can give our youth the thoughts and ideas of the best minds, and we can ensure that students do their part in applying their attention so that their own effort bears fruit, resulting in skilled ability, noble character and proper behavior. With the time we have, we can't make Rhodes scholars of the students, but those who earnestly desire that will find a way to continue their education. If there's any benefit in toiling over grammar, well, they'll have to forego that. But the inspiration and joy that come from entering into an intellectual world that has all kinds of pleasant things to relate to is something that every student should have. It's like a wellspring of healing, and a fountain of joy.
The value of a cohesive thought bonding the people can't be calculated. What we want is to give the whole nation a common background of thought, similar to what students at exclusive Public Schools get. Those students have read the same books, so they're all familiar with Pitt, Fox, 'Dick Swiviller,' 'Mrs. Quickly,' the daffodils, clouds and nightingales that poets have seen, and a thousand other various and trivial-seeming scenes and sayings that somehow combine
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to create a backdrop that puts today's current opinions and events into perspective. Therefore, like the Public Schools, we have our students reading the same books. They read them just once, but so intensively, that they never forget them. For the rest of their lives, phrases and inferences they come across will dawn on them with the kind of 'light that never touched sea or land.' We hope that the Public Schools will soon begin teaching some classics in English. Then during elections, candidates will have a better reason for getting elected than their own self-interests. During government assemblies, there's a lack of any literary or historical quotes in English. Is that due to the fact that the public can't be counted on to recognize any reference outside of their old schoolbooks? If that's the case, we can change it once and for all. Whatever the masses read, the upper educated classes will have to read, too. Then there will be national peace and unity created by a common bond of intellectual life.
Goethe said, 'The most dreadful sight in the world is ignorance in action.' And isn't this the dismaying sight that we see every day? The common masses rule today, and who can dispute their right? But let's give them the chance to also be wise in philosophy, so that they can be fit to rule. It's a hopeful sign that the people themselves are seeing their lack and demanding the education in humanities that they see as their salvation.
Read about England's History of Education, Middlesex