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General Education in a Changing World (1965,A. Lauwerys)

General Education in a Changing World: Opening Address Joseph A. Lauwerys International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l'Education, Vol. 11, No. 4, General Education in a Changing World. (1965), pp. 385-403.
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T h i s was the general theme of the second meeting of Comparative Education Society in Europe, held at Berlin 8-12 June 1965. T h e opening address and the concluding remarks of the President of the Society and the m a i n papers read at the meeting, are published below.1)



The theme of the Conference was chosen in the certainty that educators everywhere would think it important and significant. Educational traditions, at least in high income countries, were shaped in a period when only a small fraction of the population went to school for more than four years -if they went at all. This elite was taught reading, writing, a little mathematics, some history and geography. They acquired a fair knowledge of the Latin classics, sometimes the Greek as well. There was no question of including science, natural or physical, in the ordinary curriculum: the subject had no importance in life or industry until the beginning of the nineteenth century. This restricted educational diet was usually supplemented in the home. Here the young men might listen to good conversation about politics, religion, and philosophy. They would have access to books and would hear music. Many completed their education by travelling, learning about life in general while acquiring a command of foreign languages. There was no difficulty in maintaining a common universe of discourse among upper class Europeans. Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Russians had much the same background and the same sort of interests. When they disagreed with one another, they knew what it was they disagreed about: there was rarely absolute failure to communicate. During the last two hundred years this situation has changed radically. The quickly increasing numbers of pupils who crowd into the secondary schools and universities are drawn from all classes of the people - there is neither social nor cultural homogeneity. Most of them want to begin earning their living between 17 and 23 years of age: so the influence of vocational intentions is strong even at the secondary level. Furthermore, a very large proportion need specialised knowledge - say in the sciences 1) A full report including the contributions made in several symposia and in the discussions, will later be published by the Comparative Education Society in Europe.



before the end of what, a century or two ago, was thought of as the general course of liberal studies. In consequence, difficult problems arise. First : is it possible to maintain a common universe of discourse, a common culture, if the leaders and the elite are fragmented into dozens of special and limited areas of interest and concern? Secondly: does the traditional content of liberal and general education, offered to young people between the ages of 12 and 19, form a fertile ground for the development of the specialised skills upon which modern industrial society depends? And we could add a third problem, of equal importance. In a world of separated specialists is it possible to maintain among the educated a passionate concern for the proper functioning of institutions which guarantee and protect individual freedoms and humane behaviour ? In the search for solutions to problems like these, Comparative Education can aid in two ways. First, by helping us better to understand the nature of the problems and the general principles which can guide us when we seek answers to them. Here, a remark may be hazarded. I t is often said that Comparative Education must compare. Very well - but why? Is it sufficient simply to let the comparisons stand side by side? Evidently not: the aim of comparison is to move towards the statement of general principles. Let us therefore seek, by the comparative method, the theory of general education. Let us try to understand what this particular aim and purpose implies, what it seeks to achieve. Secondly, by studying what our colleagues in other lands do, we may get ideas helpful in our own national environment - but we shall be able to borrow usefully and constructively only if we understand the basic principles. If crops are to be successfully grown in new climatic and geological environments, biological science is needed. Otherwise harm may be done through clumsy importation - as, for instance, with the rabbits in Australia, or the blackberry in Chile. Here, then, are the chief reasons for choosing the theme of "General Education." I t is agreed that all children and young people should be taught without regard to their future vocational intentions up to a certain age - some say 14, others 18. What are the chief arguments put forward to justify this view? If it is accepted, then what should be the curriculum of primary and middle schools? What aims should be pursued? What methods of teaching should be used? And beyond the age of say 18 should an attempt be made to correct specialisation and its defects? Does the ideal of "liberal education" still have any relevance ? Clearly, nineteenth century answers to these questions are no longer satisfactory. In the first place, this is an age of mass education. Secondary



schools and colleges now draw recruits from all levels of the population, from crowded working class homes, poor in cultural resources, as well as from professional and upper class ones. In the second place, subjects which, like physics, had little importance a century ago now have to be included in the currjculum - so the problem of how to plan the content of liberal education has become more complex. Yet in general there are some old ideas which can still be accepted. Most of us, perhaps all of us, would still gladly agree with the most general statement of the aim of liberal education, namely that the objective is to train all future citizens in the use of freedom through the attainment of wisdom. All of us, whatever our national or cultural backgrounds, think that all men and women can and should be made to appreciate the value and importance of seeking truth, of pursuing beauty and of loving goodness. But perhaps we begin to feel doubt when we go further and consider what used to be said regarding the means to be employed in the pursuit of such aims. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was conceded that the right instrument was the study of the best that had been thought and said. The field, so it was argued, must be mainly philosophical or literary: attention being centered on the principal mode of communication between human beings, namely language, written or spoken. The elementary course, so it was thought, must aim at teaching people to think straight, to speak well, to write correctly. After this should come the study of the liberal arts; that is, those chosen by free men - not constrained to think about earning a living - because they led to greater freedom and to more wisdom. While these general aims are still accepted almost everywhere, there are great differences in the ways in which attempts are made to realise them. I t seems as if the historical experiences of each national and cultural group, its social structure, the technology and commerce upon which it relies, have combined to affect and modify the formulation of the problems and the shape of the answers given. And thus, today, the approach to general education differs from country to country because those who guide the schools and those who teach in them make proposals which are, more or less unconsciously, affected by the history of thought and by the philosophy current in their own cultural environment. Teachers who have read Descartes are likely to behave differently in their classroom from those who have been influenced by Dewey. Educators brought up in lycies and in the Sorbonne are likely to hold views different from those who attended a High School in the USA and one of the great State Universities. Nevertheless, this point must not be carried too far. The problems of modern civilisation and modern education are



much the same everywhere - urbanisation, impact of the new technology, the explosion of knowledge, increased geographical and social mobility, rising standards of aspiration, and so on. I n consequence, there is likely to be a good deal of resemblance between the reform proposals made for the schools of Kiev and Los Angeles, Birmingham and Lyons, Diisseldorf and Milan. Everywhere there will be talk about the introduction into secondary curricula of modern mathematics and physics, about the application of activity methods and group work, about the uses of visual aids and television. There is a marked confluence of views as a result of the growing resemblances between the great urban centres which increasingly dominate the life of nations. Nevertheless, difference~ style of and approach remain because the assumptions made are themselves the outcome of cultural history. Let us insist, therefore, that in what follows, an attempt will be made to delineate in broad outline some of these semi-conscious assumptions and not the nature of the proposals now put forward or considered in Europe or America. Traditional Concepts of General Education

England Liberal education to the English means above all the attempt to foster the development of personality through the training of moral character. In one of his sermons (about 1835) Dr. Arnold of Rugby stated his aims: "What we must look for in this school," he said, "is first - first in order of importance not merely first - is first religious and moral principle; secondly, gentlemanly conduct ; thirdly, intellectual ability." I n those days when money opened the door of the university, and high position usually ensured access to good posts, most English parents shared that view. They cared little for scholarship or learning. No doubt they were pleased to know that their children were being taught Latin and mathematics, but their real hopes and wishes were of a different kind. In T o m Brown's Schooldays, old Squire Brown meditates. He is just about to send the boy to school, what shall he tell him? "Shall I tell him," he says, "to mind his work and say he is sent to school to make himself a good scholar? Well, but he isn't sent to school for that, at any rate, not for that mainly. I don't care a straw for Greek particles or for Latin grammar. No more does his mother. What is he sent to school for ? If he
l) Someof thesectionswhichfollow are a development of material briefly dealt with in an article published in the International Review of Education, No. 3, vol. V, 1959.



will only turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a Christian, that's all I want." Now the social and technological changes of the last hundred years have profoundly modified this outlook, but its essence remains. Even now, most English headmasters, and many parents, would accord very high priority to the training of character, to the fostering of manly virtue, and would consider that a teaching of subjects was only instrumental to such ends - and this even though their practice often belies their statements. Of this more in a moment. The education given at Rugby, and in most English public schools, which fulfilled the nineteenth century ideal of general education, was in part conducted in the school chapel, in part on the playing fields, in part in the common rooms, but the lessons there picked up were supplemented and given shape in the classroom. The main intellectual instrument was the teaching of classics; that is, of Latin and Greek literature. I t would be wrong, however, to think of it as mainly linguistic. A good teacher like Arnold lost no opportunity of broadening the horizon of his pupils, especially when these had reached the top form, the sixth form, the pride of the school, filled with youngsters of 17 and 18, all of whom would soon move on to the university. With these elect few Arnold would discuss the history, the geography, the social conditions, which lay at the back of the book they were studying. Whenever possible he would draw lessons of moral, social, or political importance. The whole theory is expressed in the report of the Schools Enquiry Commission, which enquired into the eight old public schools in 1864.
"There should be some one principal branch of study invested with a recognised and, if possible, a traditional importance, to which the principal weight could be assigned and the larger share of time and attention given. This is necessary in order to concentrate attention, to stimulate industry, to supply to the whole school a common background of literary interest and a common path of promotion. The study of the classical languages occupies this position in all the great English schools. I t has the advantage of long possession, an advantage so great that we should certainly hesitate to advise the dethronement of it, even if we were prepared t o recommend a successor."

At the time, the claims of a possible successor to the classics were in fact being urged very strongly. Michael Faraday, the great physicist, was showing by his lectures and demonstrations how the scientific study even of humble subjects, like a candle, could be made into the occasion for rigorous intellectual training. With astonishing eloquence T. H. Huxley was defending the view that the notion of providing a liberal education without science was shortsighted and anachronistic. He asked "whether

the richest of our public schools might not well be made to supply knowledge as well as gentlemanly habits, a strong class feeling and eminent proficiency in cricket." He received powerful support from Herbert Spencer, who claimed that scientific knowledge of life and of nature was more important than any other knowledge, and who demanded that science should, therefore, be allotted the chief role in the curriculum. Unfortunately, the scientists at that time were unable to agree on just what science should be taught, nor could they explain convincingly how its teaching at the school level could be made into a discipline as humane and as liberating as the study of the actions and motives of men and women. Science, a study of the material universe, could not compete successfully with literature a t a time when the skills of the administrator and of the industrial leader were not based on technological competence, but almost solely on the understanding and management of men. Hence, the result of the conflict between classics and science was solved by admitting the latter to a modest place in the school's timetable, a modest entry into the school through the tradesmen's entrance; say, an allotment of time of two or three hours a week. The dominance of the classics in our English schools, however, was sapped by two other developments: first, the growth of interest, perhaps itself the outcome of increasing foreign travel, in modern languages as well as in history and geography. As the years went by an ever greater proportion of university students specialised in such studies and found in them occasions of intellectual and aesthetic delight. In addition, employers were quite ready to offer managerial posts to young men with that sort of background. Nowadays, only a small proportion of Arts students in our English universities devote themselves to classics. The rest study English and English literature, modern languages, history, or geography. In recent years, some even venture into psychology or sociology. The second major influence came from the rapid growth in size and importance of schools which originally catered for the middle and upper working classes, schools like those we called the higher grade or higher elementary schools. These had a much more practical and utilitarian approach than had the old grammar and public schools. They had always aimed at providing knowledge capable of being applied in industry or commerce. They, therefore, now began to stress subjects like physics or chemistry, and paid relatively little attention to the ideals of liberal or general education. In a word, ever since the time of Arnold there has been a clamour for the introduction into the curriculum of our schools of more and more subjects. This might have led to a situation like that which exists in Germany or Holland - an over-crowded timetable, and young people


39 1

studying as many as twelve or more subjects up to the age of 18 or 19. This solution was impossible in England. The belief that there should be "some one principal branch of study" persisted and is still whole-heartedly accepted. Most educators consider that young people really should come to grips with not more than one or two subjects and learn to master them. So what was done was to move towards a limited form of specialisation. Schools began to be organised into sides. At the age of 13 or 14 the young boy or girl had to decide whether to go over to the classical, or to the modern, or to the science, or engineering side. This tendency towards early specialisation was then intensified by the structure of the examination system and of the university scholarship examinations. I t was then carried further still by the evolution of our universities. There perhaps the most potent factors were the rapid growth of the new provincial nineteenth century universities, and the appointments of large numbers of professors in all the new specialisms which have arisen during the last hundred years. The movement towards specialisation in a multitude of separate disciplines and subjects has had important effects on the old English attitude to education, that of Arnold and Squire Brown. The immense changes which have taken place in England since the end of the Victorian era have greatly diminished the wealth and power of the upper classes. Brains, ability, hard work are now keys to success, and the way to measure them, so it is thought, is by due process of examination. The path upward is marked by a succession of drastic milestones, the 1 1-plus, the Ordinary Level General Certificate, the Advanced Level General Certificate, scholarship examinations, Part I of the BA, Part I1 of the BA, Master's Degree, PhD. But what is most easily tested in an examination is, of course, knowledge of fact verbally expressed. So today learning does count, and for many Arnold's order of priorities is reversed. Growing attention is paid by parents and by heads of schools to questions of curriculum and method and choice of subject. Even the most famous of our schools now boast more of their success in the examination hall than of prowess on the playing field. Huxley's proposed reform has been achieved. The English elite, alas, is becoming as intellectual and as learned as its continental colleagues. Education is being valued in terms of things learned rather than of traits of character developed. Needless to say, this clash between old ideals and new facts produces disquiet and discomfort. As a rule examinations themselves are attacked and their effects considered pernicious. That is, as usual, the tool or instrument is blamed, not those who use it. Overtly, the older aims of



education are still proclaimed, but in fact the new and mighty idols are worshipped with a sense of shame.

France Let us compare and contrast the above with the background of French thinking - I repeat and insist not with what is nowadays being said and proposed in France but the old traditional French views. As a rule the phrase used is czlltzlre ge'ne'rale and the theory, so it seems to me, h a . been deeply affected by the Cartesian reinterpretation of scholastic philosophy and logic. I like to call it a reinterpretation, because although Descartes was profoundly affected by Bacon and considered him in a sense his master whom he tried to learn from, his whole approach to the problem of the acquisition of knowledge is, of course, one which in a sense way the scholastic belief in logic and method, while Bacon's approach was a vastly more empirical and experimental one. Typically enough, a French educator thinks, or at least used to think, that what is true is that which can be vividly and absolutely comprehended and apprehended. That which the mind can conceive with sharp and absolute clarity must in some sense or other be true. Furthermore, and this is certainly a view which the French, I believe, always hold strongly, truth and goodness are closely related. That is, to see the truth is to love the good. The pursuit of truth is the common enterprise of mankind. And the truth must be pursued through the rigorous and consistent application of the highest of all human virtues, namely, reason. All education depends upon communication. I t must, therefore, operate through that faculty which is common to all men, reason, which distinguishes man from the animals. Education must base itself upon rational elements or cease to be education. Seen from such a point of view, the aim must be to develop in the pupils the power of reasoning correctly and to the point. As Stendhal put it, " V o i r sec et clair dans ce qzci est." The faculty of reason is best trained, so it is thought, through the growth of skill in the use of highly structured languages which are themselves the expression of logic: mathematics, French, Latin, in that order. The sciences provide bodies of knowledge organised by the application of logical ideas and theories. The latter may be important, the former are accidental, mere facts or illustrations. Evidently the application of this approach to education involves stressing above all the careful inner examination of mathematical principles and of extracts from literature chosen because of their clarity and cogency. To the superficial observer this may appear dry, abstract, and formal. In truth, however, the objective of French education is and remains moral and social.



PCguy discussed it. "What I imagine," says PCguy, "is that the method of Descartes is a sort of morality, a morality of thinking, or a morality for thinking, or, if you like, everything within is morality because everything deals with conduct and the will to right conduct. And perhaps his greatest invention and the newest thing to be found with him, and the greatest proof of his genius and strength of mind, is to have wielded his thought as if it were action." Once again, here is a grand ideal, that of training men to think clearly, to pursue truth and to love it because the path of truth is also that of goodness and right conduct. But it is far from easy to express this ideal while taking fully into account the facts of social change and technological development. The French, of course, have long realised the importance and value of science in education. During the whole of the nineteenth century there was a continuous battle between those who wished to promote the sciences and those who had continuing faith in the power of the classical and literary formation of their youth. Even now the battle has not ended: it is still pursued even while the social earthquake shakes the ground beneath the feet of opposing factions. And, indeed, one should accept the notion that a liberal, general education adapted to the last third of the twentieth century must continue to aim at training men and women to appreciate the virtue of rigorous thinking, of attempting to discover through the use of reason whatever reason can discover; just as it must cleave to the English notion that character can and should be trained. Let me conclude by quoting Andrt! Gide. "Let us hope," he said on a famous occasion, "Let us hope that bruised France will not abandon her principal quality, her critical mind. I speak of the critical mind, not as being a thing in itself, but as a rather rare quality most essential for all culture and one in which France has proved supreme. I t has been displayed as much in the tragedies of Racine and the poems of Baudelaire as in the essays of La Bruybre and the novels of Stendhal. I t is not opposed to poetry, but leads subtly towards artistic expression; and yet it is this critical mind which today is most in danger and therefore it is our critical qualities and virtues which most need protection today."
3 Germany Friedrich Schneider considers that the central aim of German education is ethical and that it is concerned primarily with the moral personality and with the inner freedom of the individual. A case could be made, it seems to me, to support the view that the idea of Allgemeinbildung,while affected by the French encyclopedists in the eighteenth century, is in



reality rooted in mediaeval German mysticism transformed by the Lutheran notion of justification by faith. There is even now a belief in the notion that there exists an inner reality and unity in the cosmos, and that it can be apprehended in almost mystical manner by a process of identification, ontological, metaphysical, spiritual. This process of unification or identification with the inner nature of things can be helped in a multitude of ways: by contemplation and meditation; by communing with Nature on mountain tops or in pine forests; by listening to music, reading poetry or studying literature; by earnestly pursuing research. In a word, by coming into sympathetic contact both with the creations of God and with the permanent achievements of the human spirit: but meanings must always be sought below the surface, in the depths. Such ideas were much affected by the Encyclopedists and even more by the Romantic Revival, which often encouraged - since it was concerned largely with content rather than form - a passionate attachment to learning more and more; that is, to erudition as a proof of love of knowledge. Nationalism, too, exerted its very powerful effects. Herder, Fichte and Hegel gave expression to the idea that general education should develop a burning patriotism, a love of the Fatherland. Von Humboldt's wider and more cosmopolitan outlook was not very successful in modifying and restraining the effects of these trends. Thus we find rather widespread in the German-speaking countries more so, of course, a hundred years ago than now - the notion that Allgemeinbildung should be concerned with the whole of Nature and the whole of Man, with reason and science and art and literature, philosophy providing the focus. A noble ideal -but the danger is that these broad and generous views can easily be degraded by schoolmasters into crude and barren encyclopedic erudition, a desperate attempt to cram into the secondary curriculum a little of everything. And so young people may be set to study more than a dozen subjects, picking up knowledge of an astonishingly superficial kind - the very negation of the original aim. If it were still possible today to restrict higher secondary education to a select few, kept hard at work by devoted and intelligent parents, some good might come of this. But when the school draws its pupils from the whole mass of the population, when many of them have only restricted home backgrounds offering few cultural facilities, when, moreover, they are thinking hard about passing examinations and securing well-paid jobs, little more can be expected than verbal facility camouflaging confusion and ignorance.



4 European Traditions These three strands - the German, the French, the English - are the most influential in the complex web which is the Western European tradition of liberal or general education. I t embodies at once a doctrine of the nature of man and a doctrine of the nature of knowledge. It stresses the views that (i) character can be trained and personality developed by example, exercise and exhortation, and (ii) that the mind can be shown how to use a good method of thinking correctly and abstractly, so as to arrive at truth; and that, moreover, only that is knowledge which is rationally organised into a system of ideas and of theories. As regards the content of general education, all three traditions accept the view - though the German stresses it most strongly - that in principle the whole of the natural, human and social worlds could be - perhaps should be - suitable for study and exploration. Put like this, in an exceedingly broad and general way, it may be that these claims would still be cheerfully accepted by educational theorists, even outside Europe. There is certainly something universal about them. But in important respects they need drastic modification and adaptation, in order to make them relevant to the needs of the world today. And in large measure they have been challenged, even rejected, both in North America and by the Communists. I t has been urged that they are too individualistic in their implicit aims, and that they pay too little attention to the pervasive influence of a society which is class-divided, materialistic, and egoistic. Furthermore, it is asserted that they are too static and are not attuned to the need for changing the structure and institutions of a society increasingly unable to satisfy the claims of justice and man's deepest aspirations.
5 General Education in the U S A Until the War of Independence education in the North American colonies was little more than a provincial variant of English practice. I t was influenced profoundly, however, by Puritan doctrines and therefore already displayed original departures from Europe. I t began to become a genuine (American) variant during the second half of the eighteenth century and was thus much affected by the physiocrats and encyclopedists. I t was then based upon a somewhat crude associationist and sensationalist espistemology and psychology, still popular among some American philosophers of education: namely, the notion that what is in the mind must have come through the senses and that, therefore, the senses must be exposed to experience if there is to be real learning. This opinion, of course, easily slips down into the view that as long as children are busy, playing



with objects or visiting factories or rambling about the woods, they are learning things just as worthwhile as anything that could be learned at a desk or in a laboratory. Middle class men have long expressed more freely in America than in Europe their repudiation of aristocratic values. Note how Benjamin Franklin wrote about what was to be taught to all in the Philadelphia Academy: "As to their studies, it would be well if they could be taught everything that is useful and everything that is ornamental." This is a typically middle class notion - not a Platonic one. "But art is long, and their time is short. I t is therefore proposed that they learn those things that are likely to be most useful and most ornamental, regard being paid to the several professions for which they are intended." During the nineteenth century the tendency to attach great importance to useful knowledge was strengthened, while the adjective was increasingly interpreted as meaning "useful in the production of material goods," "in the manufacturing process," or sometimes "useful in the organisation of a small, self-governing community of free citizens." The point deserves emphasis: the word "useful" is as broad and vague a term as "social" or "functional." As a matter of fact, no subject was as "useful" to a clever and ambitious English boy a couple of generations ago as Latin and Greek grammar. Proficiency in these subjects led towards scholarships, success in Greats, the highest posts in the administration as well as in commerce. European influences were welcomed as long as they were in tune with these tendencies; for example, that of Herbert Spencer. And also influential American philosophers nearly all stressed another notion, easily reconcilable with that of utility: process. Process of learning, process of teaching, process of testing, process of manufacturing. The idea is found in C. S. Pierce, James, Dewey, even to some extent in Emerson and Royce - not to mention the great Taylor! American programmes of general education clearly display the results of these influences: encyclopedism, stress on the useful and the social, concern with process. They often attempt to cover material drawn from many subject-fields: a challenge to traditional disciplines. They frequently consist of an investigation of "challenging problems". Processes of problem solving are looked upon as important, while there is less stress than in Europe upon rigour of demonstration, or upon mastery of traditional subjects, not one of which, incidentally, is considered essential. Attention is often paid to social competence and social adjustment. It cannot truly be said that the American tradition of general education differs completely from the European: there is a different order of



priorities, and the stress is laid upon different elements. I t is a reinterpretation, a revaluation, not an absolute rejection.
6 Communist Views on General Education The theory of polytechnical education is based upon a new doctrine of the nature of man, and a new doctrine of the nature of knowledge. The central aim is the creation of a "new man," ". . in whom spiritual wealth, high ethical standards and perfect physical fitness must be harmoniously combined. The man of the communist future will be free from the mean characteristics bred by a system of exploitation: the selfishness of private ownership, the desire to live at the expense of other people's labour, philistinism, individualism, etc." From one point of view, the theory expresses a wish to use education as an instrument for changing the conventional attitude to work and production. "One of the principal evils of the old society was the great gulf between manual and mental labour. The separation of manual work from mental work took place with the appearance of private ownership of the means of production and the division of society into hostile, antagonistic classes." This is a rejection ot the high European tradition, embodying the Aristotelian dichotomy between knowledge which is worthy of a free man because it deals with general ideas and that of a craftsman or artisan, concerned with skills of hand. The free man chooses to devote himself to theory and learning and, therefore, the subjects which are most theoretical, most removed from craftsman-like activities, are evidently the noblest, the most important, the ones which best serve liberal ideals. Those which have to do with production are less worthy. All this helps to give theoretical justification for the contempt, generally found in our societies, for manual activities carried out for pecuniary gain: a contempt which is particularly marked in countries now emerging into the new, scientific, manufacturing, technological economy. The Russians have for a long time, with great sincerity and energy, attempted to restore a measure of dignity to manual labour. They have talked ceaselessly about this, and have attempted to use the power of state institutions. Yet, on the whole, they have failed because human beings are not easily converted by preaching unless they are so ready for conversion - through the operation of social and economic forces that the preaching itself is almost unnecessary. Theoretically, since manual labour is as worthy as intellectual or clerical work, activity at the factory bench, in the drawing office, or on the farm, is as good for the education of adolescents as study in the classroom or laboratory. Yet it is always stressed by communist theorists that the


tendency towards vocational or professional studies, considered as endsin-themselves, is to be resisted. The courses offered in schools are to be poly- and not mono-technic in intention. The school, however, must seek its inspiration not in old and probably worn-out traditions, which may be little more than attempts to carry into the future practices and ways of thought derived from a society stratified into classes. An attempt must be made to relate the entire curriculum to the production process of the region round the school, or indeed of the whole nation. Study of the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Makarenko, and Madame Krupskaja makes it clear that a very broad view is to be taken of "the production process." I t is to include the whole intellectual and artistic as well as the material life of the people. In other words, it is part of production to dig a field, to shape a piece of metal, or to organise a factory; it is also part of production to compose a poem, to paint a picture, to invent a scientific theory. Thus, polytechnical education is certainly not merely directed towards the simpler needs of industry. Yet the ideal evidently is easily degraded into the concept that production is essentially material. Turning to the moral aspect: Marxists hope that it will be possible to move towards a morality more universal and humane than anything that can be formulated in class-stratified societies. Only among human beings where all are free and equal, where all have the same economic and social rights, can it become possible to define principles that are, in some sense, absolute. Clearly, then, Soviet educators, like their Western colleagues, fully accept the notion that the aim of the education offered to all the children of all the people must be moral and social. There is even a good deal of common agreement regarding the qualities and ideals to be promoted. I n practice, the communist theory of the curriculum begins by stressing that it must be related to productive activities. Every subject is to be considered from the point of view of the help it can give to the workers, to the builders of a socialist society. I t is to be looked upon as a tool, as a weapon in the struggle to maximise production. Science, for example, is the theory of production; mathematics is the language in which this theory is expressed. To think of subjects as purely intellectual disciplines capable chiefly of yielding aesthetic satisfaction would be to fall into the heresy of bourgeois formalism. Man is not simply homo sapiens. He is homo sapiens et faber.

7 Differences between the Traditions
The traditional European systems, together with the associated ideologies, are all based upon the idea of selection. Usually, sometime between



11 and 16 years of age, a decision is taken that some boys and girls shall continue their full-time education up to 18 or 22 years while the rest start work in factory or office. Formerly, the choice was made chiefly on grounds of birth and money; now chiefly on grounds of ability. There is a widespread notion that one of the aims of primary and lower secondary education is the discovery of talent, so that real pains can then be taken to train it. Sometimes the point is put by asking the curious pseudoquestion: "What proportion of youth is capable of benefiting from secondary or from higher education?" And one hears talk of "boys who are not suited to secondary education." Evidently, such opinions derive from an attitude towards the problem of the relative importance of heredity and environment. To many -perhaps most - Europeans heredity counts most: choose the best and then spend time and effort upon them. Americans and Communists tend to reverse this order of importance. They dislike selection - apart from self-selection. They have faith in mass education, believing that if the general level is raised, the most gifted can be trusted to emerge and to make full use of the opportunities offered. They think environment matters more than heredity. Although European societies have departed a long way from the semifeudal aristocracies of two hundred years ago, aristocratic modes of thought stressing the importance of heredity, of native gifts and endowments, are rather easily accepted. The virtues looked for in an educational system tend to be those of an aristocratic system - though these virtues are, of course, talked about in twentieth century language. The value of knowledge as a tool to be used in material production is not very much prized: "pure" research and study are preferred. Qualities of intellect, the ability to be critical and detached, the capacity to analyse, interest in abstract ideas whether they can be applied in production or not : these are the values which most European educators favour. Similarly, the majority think of the university as a place which, in principle at least, ought to be restricted to those of high intellectual calibre. I t should be - according to this view - a place where an aristocracy of the intellect pursues truth, regardless of whether it can be applied, choosing for itself the direction of its interests, deciding for itself how to occupy its time, deciding whether or not to accept pupils, feeling little direct responsibility towards society while convinced that society owes them respect and support simply because the university is the university. Even the attitude towards new subjects, parvenu middle class subjects like engineering or education, is a restrictive one. Often they are allowed in, so to speak, only through the back door and are refused full rights. The



attitude of German universities to engineering in the nineteenth century and of British universities to teachers' colleges are examples. Such ways of thinking permeate downwards from the universities into the secondary schools. Many believe that a real secondary school is the preparatory department of the university; that is, it is not simply a level of education, but a special kind of establishment. I n the USA and the USSR things are different. Here the university is thought of as an institution which owes a debt to society, a debt which it must repay by meeting social and economic needs. I t is thought of, too, as one of the instruments which the community uses for its own material and cultural improvement. I n the USA, quick response to consumer demand ensures that these aims are reached. In the USSR, policy is laid down by the Communist party, which is considered as the organ of expression of the interests of the whole people. The result in both these countries is a tendency to maximise the number of students at the tertiary level, the decision to move into it being taken in the one case by the citizens themselves, in the other by the planning organs of the state.
8 Conclzcsions

In each of the five countries considered, sustained and vigorous efforts are being made to improve the systems of education, the curriculum of schools, the methods of teaching. The overall aim is modernisation; that is, the adjustment of education to the needs of the present and the foreseeable future so that it may serve to improve material conditions and the cultural and spiritual aspirations of the people. I t is conceded everywhere that professional and vocational preparation should be postponed until, say, the age of 15; education until then being general. This leaves the difficult problem of deciding what to teach up to that age, and, in addition, how to provide general education as the complement to specialised training beyond that age. The solutions proposed vary from country to country - inevitably, since they are conditioned and affected by different attitudes and different cultural histories. Even more will there be very great differences in the ways the reforms are described, talked about, justified. One of the chief purposes of the analysis presented in this paper is to help educationists to understand and to interpret what their colleagues in other lands are saying: only then will the experience of others be valuable, only then can a mutually fruitful dialogue be started. What is needed is a drastic and radical reinterpretation of the central meaning of liberal or general education in the light of on-going scientific,


40 1

technological, economic, and political changes. Traditionally it was adapted to the needs of a society sharply stratified into social classes, each with its own rights and duties. Higher education had to develop insights and qualities of leadership in a small elite which wielded power and carried on culture. General education was concerned with maintaining a common universe of discourse among this elite. Science, as we now understand the term, was not an essential part of the common culture, nor did it play an important role in the production and distribution of material goods. The overall purpose of education remains: to provide the young with an understanding of man and the world; to develop human action and man himself; to reconcile man with his social and natural environment; to stabilise and strengthen personality; to prepare young people to discharge effectively their tasks as citizens and producers. But now our schools deal with the whole mass of the population - not with an elite only - and science is a part of the common culture. The aim of general education was summarised nearly ten years ago at a Conference arranged by the Unesco Institute in Hamburg: "General education may be defined as that part of education which is designed to help the individual to deal competently, creatively and humanely with those problems which he shares with his fellow men." This definition is in line with the ideas expressed by A. N. Whitehead when he said that three main avenues should exist in a national system of education: the literary, the scientific, and the technical curricula, each including the other two. Every form of education must give to pupils a technique, a science, an assortment of general ideas, an aesthetic appreciation. Each side of his training should be illuminated by the others. The compound result is what is called general education.

ALLGEMEINBILDUNG IN EINER SICH WANDELNDEN WELT von JOSEPH LAUWERYS, A. London Die Traditionen unseres Bildungswesens haben sich in einer Zeit entwickelt, als nur die Kinder wohlhabender Eltern hohere Schulbildung und Universitatsbildung erhielten und als die Naturwissenschaften nur eine geringe Rolle im gesellschaftlichen Leben und in der Industrie spielten. Jetzt wird Schulbildung der Sekundarstufe allen Kindern geboten, und berufliche Einfliisse haben nicht nur die Hochschule sondern auch die Sekundarschule durchdrungen; die Natunvissenschaften sind in den Mittelpunkt geriickt. Zahlreiche Formen der Spezialisierung sind in die Universitat eingedrungen. Das Problem besteht infolgedessen darin, eine gemeinsame Kultur innerhalb einer zersplitterten Elite aufrechtzuerhalten und die



Verstandigungsmoglichkeit zwischen dieser Elite und der Masse der Bevolkerung zu gewahrleisten. Dariiber hinaus besteht die Notwendigkeit, Sorge zu tragen fur das einwandfreie Funktionieren der kulturellen Einrichtungen. Das Ziel der Konferenz ist es, auf dem Wege iiber vergleichende Methoden zu einer Theorie der Allgemeinbildung zu gelangen, die dem letzten Drittel des 20. Jahrhunderts angemessen ist. Natiirlich behalten viele alte Ideen ihren Wert. Diese sind in den verschiedenen groBen Kulturbereichen verschieden ausgedriickt worden. So hatte z.B. fur die Englander die liberal education charakterliche Erziehung im moralischen und sozialen Sinne zum Hauptziel, und die klassischen Sprachen dienten als Mittel zu diesem Zweck. Die Franzosen versprachen sich vie1 von der Denkschulung und starkten gleichzeitig die Achtung vor der Wahrheit und dem Prinzip der Moral. Die Deutschen erkannten ein ethisches Ideal an und richteten sich auf die moralische Personlichkeit und auf die innere Freiheit des Individuums. Zwei hauptsachliche Revolten gegen die Vorherrschaft der traditionellen europaischen Anschauungen haben sich ereignet, namlich in den USA und in kommunistischen Landern. Beide betonen den Wert der Erfahrung und Technologie, der Wirtschaft und der Anwendbarkeit von Wissen. Beide neigen dazu, Kontemplation und "reine" Forschung gering zu schatzen. Sie glauben beide mehr an den EinfluB des Milieus als an Erbanlagen. I n jedem der fiinf Lander, die betrachtet wurden, werden kraftige Versuche gemacht, die Allgemeinbildung zu reformieren. Vorschlage, die gemacht werden, unterscheiden sich besonders im Hinblick darauf, wie die Reformen beschrieben, diskutiert und gerechtfertigt werden. Die vergleichende Erziehungswissenschaft kann uns dazu verhelfen, das, was andere sagen, zu verstehen und zu interpretieren. Infolgedessen kann ein fruchtbarer Dialog entstehen, und es wird sich zeigen, daB das, was in verschiedenen Landern vor sich geht, viele gemeinsame Ziige aufweist. Allgemeinbildung kann heute definiert werden als der Teil der Bildung, welcher darauf abzielt, dem Individuunl zu helfen, sachgerecht, schopferisch und menschlich mit den Problemen fertig zu werden, die er mit seinen Mitmenschen gemein hat. Jede Form von Rildung muB den Schiilern eine Wissenschaft, eine Technik, eine Auswahl von allgemeinen Ideen und ein kiinstlerisches Verstandnis vermitt el^. Jede Seite der Ausbildung sollte von den anderen Seiten her beleuchtet werden. Das Gesamtergebnis ist dann das, was man Allgemeinbildung nennen kann.

L'EDUCATION GENERALE DANS UN MONDE QUI SE TRANSFORME London par JOSEPHA . LAUWERYS, Les traditions de 1'Cducation se sont formCes B une Cpoque oa seuls les enfants des gens aisCs continuaient leur Cducation secondaire et supkrieure, et oh les sciences jouaient un r61e peu important dans la vie sociale et industrielle. Aujourd'hui, 1'6ducation secondaire est pour la plupart ouverte B tous, et des influences d'ordre professionnel s'infiltrent non seulement dans 1'Cducation supCrieure mais aussi dans 1'6ducation secondaire; les sciences sont devenues une activitB centrale; la spkcialisation a pCnCtrB I'universitC sous des formes multiples. Par conskquent, le probleme se pose de savoir comment maintenir une culture commune A cette Blite fragrnentke et comment sauvegarder la communication entre cette Clite et la masse du peuple.



En outre, il est nkcessaire de maintenir un intkrkt en ce qui concerne le fonctionnement des institutions civiques. Le but de la conference est de chercher moyennant la mkthode comparative une thkorie de 1'Cducation gknkrale qui s'appliquerait au dernier tiers du XXe siecle. I1 va sans dire que beaucoup d'idkes traditionnelles seront toujours valables. Ce sont des idbes qui se trouvent, sous forme diffkrente, dans toutes les grandes cultures. Par exemple, l'kducation libkrale des Anglais avait pour but central la formation d'un caractere moral et social, et le moyen principal d'atteindre ce but ktaient les langues classiques. Les Fran~ais mettaient leur foi dans la formation de la facultk de raisonner et en m&metemps dans le developpement du respect de la vkritk et du principe moral. Les Allemands acceptaient un ideal d'une morale et s'intkressaient B la personnalitk morale et A la libertk interieure de l'individu. I1 y a eu deux rkvoltes principales contre la predominance des vues europkennes traditionnelles: celle des Etats-Unis et des pays communistes. Les deux mettent l'accent sur l'expkrience, la technologie, les sciences, l'utilit6 d'avoir des connaissances. E t les deux ont tendance B minimiser la contemplation et la recherche "pure." 11s croient plutBt B l'influence du milieu qu'A celle de l'hkrkditb. Dans chacun des cinq pays en question de grands efforts sont entrepris pour reformer l'kducation gknkrale. Les propositions faites quant B ces reformes varient, surtout dans la manikre dans laquelle elles sont dkcrites, discutees et justifikes. L'Bducation comparke est en mesure de nous faire comprendre et de nous aider A interpreter ce que les autres disent. I1 pourra en resulter un dialogue fructueux pour ceux qui y participent. E t on se rendra compte du fait qu'il y a beaucoup en commun dans ce qui se passe dans les differents pays. L'education gknkrale moderne pourrait Ctre dkfinie comme cette partie de l'kducation qui est appelke B aider l'individu B affronter de faqon compktente, crkatrice et humaine les problemes qu'il a en commun avec les autres Ctres humains. Toute forme d'kducation doit donner aux kleves une science, une technique, une skrie d'idkes gknkrales, des criteres d'apprkciation esthktique. Chaque aspect de la formation doit &trekclairk par les autres aspects. Le resultat est ce qu'on appelle 1'6ducation gknkrale.