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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL FUNCTION
take many forms, from play to poetry, from mud-pies to acting; it can
and should be encouraged from the earliest years. It has two related
but distinct functions. It may help to rid the child of haunting re-
pressions that are inhibiting its healthy development. But expression
can be normative as well as creative. It can help the child to find
outlets for itself, and so avoid new frustrations; it can also in many
cases relate the individual to larger social groups or to compre-
hensive ideas, thus providing channels for sublimation and helping
the narrow, irrational, and unconscious emotional-ethical system of
infancy to develop into the broader, more rational and more conscious
system demanded by adult existence. I have no doubt that both the
normative and the therapeutic possibilities of creative activity should
be given a much larger part to play in our educational system.
Another special problem is that of the adolescent, and in particular
the sensitive and gifted adolescent. At the moment, we do our best to
make the worst out of our human material by ending mass education
at 14 or 15, and demanding of the majority of our children that they
shall begin facing the world and its problems in that most difficult and
critical of all periods of life, early adolescence. The raising of the
school-leaving age to 16 and the provision of part-time education up
to 18 are probably more important on this than on any other account.
Meanwhile, there is the special problem of the education of the elite.
One of the major defects of the world to-day is the dearth of men of
imagination, intellect, and sensibility in high places. In the majority
of cases, such men seem to lack the drive and confidence needed for
public life. The result is that the tough and blatant, the unimag-
inative, or the pushing types too often rise to the top. There are
exceptions, of courseóDr. Nansen and Field-Marshal Smuts spring to
the mindóbut they are all too rare. In many cases it is during
adolescence that the diffidence of self-distrust of the gifted but
sensitive type either originates or becomes firmly established.
Can this unfortunate state of affairs be remedied? There is a good
deal of evidence that it can, by means of measures deliberately de-
signed for the purpose. First comes the need for confidence in one's
physical capacities; then the need for confidence in one's capacity for
perseverance and, in the process of success, for overcoming the fear of
failure and of being found wanting; and finally the need for feeling
oneself useful, wanted, appreciated.
Methods such as the Scout training and the revised County Badge
scheme, with its "projects*9 as well as its all-round athletic tests and its
expedition tests, go a long way towards laying the foundations of the
necessary psycho-physical self-reliance. The all-round physical re-
281 -./;