We have come so far down the trail of thinking that people go to school in order to become foot-soldiers in the economic battle, as if paid employment were the sole meaning of life, that we scarcely understand what Aristotle meant by saying “we educate ourselves so that we can make a noble use of our leisure”. In contrast to this remarkable view, today’s dull-witted, pedestrian, pragmatic view seems to be that the educational minimum must be whatever is enough in the way of literacy and numeracy to operate a check-out till. That was what a recent secretary of state for education and hammer of the classics, the alauricular (I bet he does not know what that means) Charles Clarke, publicly thought.
The debate, sponsored by the independent think tank Agora and The Guardian as part of their rethink series about education in the 21st century, had Prof. Adrian Monck & Simon Woodroffe answering in the affirmative, with Prof. Grayling & Stephen Bayley took the other (victorious) side. For those unable to be in London on April 8, a summary of the debate is here.
And the prior debate was “Should ‘elite’ remain a dirty word in education?”. Delicious stuff. More here and here (scroll down).
The last debate in the series, “Religion is the greatest threat to scientific progress and rationality that we face today”, took place today. According to Agora’s website (scroll down), a video podcast of the event “will appear on our website. If you would like to be notified when it becomes available, please email us.”
Just a bit more of Prof. Grayling to close,
There are those – surely, in other countries and times only? – who would like most in the population to be drones, not too questioning or well-informed, not too apt to criticise, and easily persuadable about things, especially at election times when a few promises about tax cuts and the like can do away with the need to ask people to think (in this case, who to vote for). The reason why such a reductive and manipulative view is wrong is precisely the reason why a broad liberal education, an education for life and not just for work, matters.
Filed under: Education