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An Essay On The Content of Education

by Eric James

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An Essay on the Content of Education by ERIC JAMES HIGH MASTER THE MANCHESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL PREFACE ALTHOUGH THIS SHORT book is to some extent based on lectures given to audiences of teachers and education ists I hope it may interest others besides those directly concerned with education. Its object is simply to stimulate thought and discussion rather than to convey information, and if anyone, whether a teacher or not, is led by reading it to think more critically and read more deeply about the great opportunities and the no less real dangers that lie before English education, that object will have been fully realized. In a book of this size it would be out of place to make acknowledgment of the many sources upon which I have drawn. My debt to the writings of, for example, Professor Werner Jaeger and Sir Richard Livingstone will be obvious enough. But greater even than this is the obligation which I owe to the many colleagues and friends with whom I have discussed the problems of culture and education. In particularI must express my deepest thanks to my friend and former headmaster, Canon Spencer Leeson. Though there is probably much here with which he will disagree, he bears some respon sibility for it, in the sense that he was never too busy to try to help a junior member of his staff to understand the structure and purpose of education, and above all its relation to first principles. Finally, the dedication of this book to my wife is more than a formal gesture: it is the only acknowledgment I can make of the extent to which her help has made the writing of it possible. E.J.F.J. Manchester, CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE L THE GROWTH OF THE CURRICULUM II. SOME GENERAL PRINCIPLES III. THE UNIVERSITY CURRICULUM AND THE PROBLEM OF SPECIALIZATION IV. EQUALITY AND THE CONTENT OF EDUCATION V. LIBERTY AND THE CONTENT OF EDUCATION THE GROWTH OF THE CURRICULUM AT A TIME when many aspects of education are under constant and critical review, it is of the utmost importance that we should give the most serious attention to its actual content. Year by year there accumulates a vast literature concerned with the problems of education: it is studied, discussed, and written about by educationists, adminis trators, and even teachers, with an almost alarming fluency. Yet much of this largely new work is devoted to machinery and organization or to borderline studies such as psychology. Questions as to what should be taught to particular groups of children have become of almost secondary importance, if we are to judge by the amount of really serious thought that is devoted to them. The acquisition of a certain body of knowledge as one of the desirable ends of education seems to be discussed less often, and certainly less intelligently, than the means by which activities may be stimulated or particular habits of thought inculcated, although presumably activity must use some material, and thought must be about something. quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.



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