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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL FUNCTION
In such a case, the chief movement toward relating education and
society must come from the side of society. On the other hand, a
considerable amount can be done within the educational system;
more attention can be paid to contemporary culture, to self-expression
and self-development by doing things rather than merely by learning
about them and being told what ought to be appreciated. But the
main emphasis must be on the social environment. It is here that
adult education, enlightened town and country planning, and de-
liberate encouragement by the State and local authorities of living
art, music, drama, and all other branches of cultural life, must be
called on to do most of the bridging of the gap. Nor must we forget
that purely material considerations weigh heavily. Until social
security is a reality, and the bulk of the population is guaranteed
freedom from fear and want, from ill-health and constant anxiety
about the future, they cannot be expected to display much interest
either in the masterpieces of the past or the cultural movements of
the present. The environment must be related to the needs of the
school every wffit as much as the school and the education it provides
are related to the needs of the society which provides its environment.
That is one example. Another comes from the field of religion.
Of recent months the religious organizations of this country have been
making a strong bid for a renewal of their influence in education.
This has been embodied in a manifesto issued by the Archbishops of
Canterbury, York, and Wales, with the concurrence of certain Free
Church Leaders. The manifesto comprises five points concerning the
teaching of the Christian faith in schools, which they desire to see
incorporated in the law of the land. In brief, while urging that re-
ligious instruction shall be in the hands of "teachers willing and com-
petent to give it,'* they ask that religious knowledge shall be promoted
to the status of an optional subject for the teacher's certificate, that
religious instruction shall come under official inspection, that religious
teaching may be given at any hour, and that the school day shall open
with an "act of worship." There are also rumours abroad of a
demand that non-provided schools shall be eligible for full grant, in-
stead of the present 50 per cent, of their expenses. Quite apart from
the fact that these points are bound to reawaken most of the bitter
controversies of the past, the strategy of attempting to enforce a par-
ticular form of religious belief by legislation, and of directing the
attack upon children instead of upon the adult population, seems
seriously mistaken.
If education is to be truly a function of society it should be given
the vigour which springs from unity. There are at the moment two
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