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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

DURING the past fifteen years instruction in school and college has
undergone a drastic reorientauon m Germany and Italy Its expressed
aim is to consokdate and to promote the sentiments and institutions of
the totalitarian state During the same period no country with an
ostensibly democratic iorm of government had an educational system
designed with equal singleness of purpose to promote the democratic
way of life. In England school education is the List bulwark of caste
privilege. In Britain, as in Scandinavia, university education is a
patchwork made up partly of relics from the catholic authoritarian
tradition of medieval Europe, partly of vocational specialities reluc-
tantly added to meet the demands of modern technics
The basic defect of British education beyond the elementary school
level—at which it has an intelligible and necessary function as an
insurance policy against national illiteracy—is that selection and
presentation of materials for teaching of subjects most relevant to the
constructive tasks of modern society is largely m the hands of experts
whose main preoccupation Is to produce other experts like themselves
We learn our mathematics with scant reference to its scientific appli-
cations We learn natural science without regard to the impact of
scientific discovery on the society in which we live We struggle with
one or more modern languages m complete indifference to the part
which language differences play in providing fuel for international
misunderstanding and without the slightest concern for the problem of
communication on a planetary scale in an age of potential plenty.
Like that of its predecessor. Science for the Citizen^ the project of
The Loom of Language is based on the conviction that the orientation of
studies in our schools, universities, and Adult Education Movement
does not provide a sufficient equipment for the constructive tasks of the
society in which we live, that radical changes in the scope and methods
of education arc a necessary condition of continued social progress,
that such educational reforms will not come about unless there is a
vigorous popular demand for them, and that mere precept or contro-
versial criticism is not likely to stimulate popular demand for reform
unless the plain man can examine substantial examples of instruction
vitalized by a new infusion of social relevance Like other primers for
the Age of Plenty, The Loom of Language does not set out to add to the
number of popular books written to stimulate superficial interest