Friday, July 13, 2007

Malplaquet or cooking ?

Why is it now thought that education should prepare us for real life ? Why should schools teach cooking and mortgages and, God help us, national identity ? Perhaps real life can prepare us for real life and schools teach us the things that our real lives cannot show us ?

Bertrand Russell, a progressive educationalist in his day running a relatively free school, nevertheless maintained that intellectual subjects require an unnatural degree of application which can only be an acquired habit, which our normal lives will not inculcate.

I quote freely from Prof Donald Trefusis, created by Stephen Fry:

"This new England we have invented for ourselves is not interested at all in education. It is only interested in training, both material and spiritual. Education means freedom, it means ideas, it means truth. Training is what you do to a pear tree when you pleach it and prune it to grow against a wall...Education is what you give children to enable them to be free from the prejudices and moral bankruptcies of their elders."

What would Russell and A S Neill and W B Curry of Dartington Hall and everyone else who has tried to do something different have made of a national curriculum ? Away with it and soon.


Jeremy Hargreaves said...

David do you think that maybe when you are quoting approvingly a caricature as expressing your own view, it's time to pause for thought for a moment...

David said...

Trefusis goes on to say "Well, I'm old and smelly and peculiar and I've no doubt everything I said is nonsense." and then "Oh dear, listening back I can't help feeling that some of you may have got the impression that...well, it's only because I care."
I am happy to find myself closer to the fictional Trefusis and the real Russell than this Boston chap. I do really think the national curriculum is a thoroughly bad idea.