Skip to main content

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

See other formats

SCIENCE can concern itself with education not merely in regard
to the scientific content of formal education or to the inculcation
of scientific method and of the scientific attitude in general, but by
considering education itself as a subject for scientific treatment, as a
function of human social existence. In such a treatment two con-
trasted approaches can be made: from the point of view of society as
a whole, and from that of its component individuals.
From the first point of view, education is the function by virtue of
which the social tradition, both in its general and in its specialized
aspects, is reproduced and enabled to evolve. It includes the trans-
mission of a common language, of a common minimum basis of
knowledge and skill; of the common traditions and ideals of society,
and of certain norms of behaviour. It further includes the trans-
mission, via limited minorities, of specialized skills and techniques,
craft and professional, and of certain general aspects of tradition via
special elites. So from another angle education may be said to con-
cern itself with the training of three sections within society—the
elites, the specialists, and the residual mass.
The chief changes in educational theory which have emerged in the
last half-century can be broadly summed up as follows: First, an
increased emphasis on the evolutionary or change-facilitating function
of education as against its conservative or change-resisting function.
Secondly, and intimately connected with the first point, increased
concern with the future, and with the possibility of approximation to
ideal but scientific standards; and obversely a decreased concern
with the past and with the imposition of ideal but non-scientific
(philosophical or religious) standards derived from the past. Thirdly,
a decreased stress on the rigid normative function of education,
which aims at imposing, as early as possible in life, certain orthodox
patterns of thought, morality, and behaviour; and conversely an
increased stress on its liberating function, through the encourage-
ment of the scientific spirit, of individual thought and development,
and of independence of action. Fourthly, recognition of the need,
in any developed democratic society, for education to help in pro-
viding a high degree of social stimulation and social self-conscious-
ness. Fifthly, recognition of a sane relativity as against a sham
universality, of the fact that education is not only inevitably
conditioned by the limitations of time and place but should be
s*                                     267