Saturday, 16 June 2012

Not the latest from the education debate

"If men will grant for a moment, and for the sake of argument, that, as some insist, our compulsory rate-supported system of education is wrong; that it is injurious to the domestic life of the poor; that it reduces the teacher to the position of an automaton; that it provides a quality of teaching utterly unsuited to the wants of a labouring population which certainly requires some form of technical training; that, here, it is brought face to face with its own incompetence, for some of the highest practical authorities declare that the technical education given in schools is a farce; that therefore it bars the way to all free arrangements between parents and employers, and to the only system of technical education which deserves the name; if this or even a part of it is true, if at best our educational system is a make-shift not altogether intolerable, how terrible are the difficulties to be overcome before we can retrace our steps and foster into vigorous life a new system, whose early beginnings have been repressed and strangled by the overgrowth of Government monopoly.

Those who still have an open mind should consider carefully this aspect of the question. Each addition to the responsibility of the State adds to the list of ill-contrived solutions of difficulty, and to the enlargement of the sphere of a stereotyped regimentation of human life. Inseparable from this obnoxious growth is the repression of private experiment and of the energy and inventiveness of human character. Instead thereof human character is degraded to a parasitic dependence on the assistance of the State, which after all proves to be but a broken reed."

Thomas Mackay, writing in the introduction to 'A Plea For Liberty' (1891), a collection of essays fighting the fallacies of the Fabians.

No comments: