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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE  MODERN WORLD
socially adapted function will increasingly be denounced as vandals,
denying to the people access to the full universality of culture, while
the advocates of scientific planning will be told that they are under-
mining individuality and initiative. Those who advocate a more
international background will be accused of lack of patriotism, and
those who look for an adjustment of the Churches' theological out-
look and institutional basis to modern conditions will be branded as
immoral and anti-religious. Such accusations are a measure of the
fear which the vested interests concerned are feeling, and can all in
the long run be adequately met by a rational presentation of the facts.
What we must be on our guard against are attempts at turning the
clock back in educational practice—not merely because turning the
clock back means delay and waste of time and energy but because of
the danger of introducing unreality into our educational system.
An educational system properly planned as a social function, in
close relation with contemporary social needs and trends, and with
the aspirations, conscious and unconscious, of the society which it is
designed to serve, will be a powerful aid toward social unification,
social self-consciousness, and social advance. The converse is also
true; an educational system which is seriously unrelated to the society
in which it is attempting to function will hinder social unification and
advance. What is more, this lack of social relation will recoil back
on to the educational system itself, and will invest it with a sense of
unreality which will cause the majority of boys and girls to look
askance at the education provided for them.
This applies in two main fields—that of ideas and that of material
conditions. Let me take two examples. Attempts to introduce the*
children of working-class families to a so-called universal or standard
culture, when this is essentially a culture of the leisured classes in past
epochs, and there is scarcely a trace of a living culture in their own
social environment, are doomed to failure. Apart from a few unusual
individuals, and some temporary enthusiasts, children tend, by a per-
fectly healthy reaction, to reject contact with this sort of culture as
having no vital meaning either for themselves or for the communities
of which they form part. It becomes looked on as something high-
brow and unreal, to be dropped as soon as school days are over, or
at least as something to be kept to oneself, something to be rather
ashamed of, when brought face to face with the prevailing standards
and outlook of the hard and ugly industrial world. The values
accepted inside the school do not correspond with those of the sur-
rounding world; and not unnaturally the world's values generally
prove the stronger.
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