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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL FUNCTION
pioneering work in mass education had been undertaken by religious
bodies, partly from altruistic motives, partly to increase the influence
of a particular church, and partly to introduce a religious and moral
buffer against popular discontent with the glaring inequalities of the
social system and the often shocking social conditions. This has
influenced our educational system to this day, so that our elementary
schools still consist in approximately equal numbers of provided
schools wholly under public authority, and of non-provided schools,
receiving grants from the State but belonging to various religious
bodies.
As a result of this class basis the normative functions of education
were (and are still) dispersed, and carried out by a patchwork of
agencies. In regard to mass education the normative function re-
mained largely in the hands of religious bodies, either in the non-
provided schools or by way of Sunday schools, bible classes, and the
like. In regard to the governing classes a strong normative influence
was introduced hi the new public school tradition initiated by Arnold
at Rugby. In addition, the Church of England had at the outset a
monopoly of religious influence in public school and university
education, a monopoly which has been only gradually and partially
broken down.
Throughout this period education has been predominantly con-
servative in its social function. The emphasis has been mainly on the
past. There has been an intensive fostering of old-established tradi-
tion, support for existing prestige and status, suspicion of new ideas,
and resistance to new methods. The long-continued education of the
governing classes has always pretended to universality. In point of
fact, it has confined itself largely to those portions of the past which
had contributed to the establishment of our own tradition; but uni-
versality has been a deliberate aim. This is exemplified in the
emphasis at the older universities on pure philosophy, and, once
science had forced its way into the curriculum9 on pure science. Any
relativist theory of education has been frowned upon, though actually
the urgent needs of society have compelled functional education at
many points—highly specialized departments of science, even of
applied science, especially in provincial universities; organizations
like the Indian Institute at Oxford; and so forth.
The need for providing the trained elites of society will remain; but
the nineteenth-century method of expensive public school and uni-
versity education cannot continue to be tolerated in a democratic
society, and in any case is destined to break down as a result of the
incidence of high taxation on the wealthier classes.
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