Posts Tagged ‘education’

Can education make us love our neighbour?

January 17, 2015

The object of universities is not to make skilful lawyers, physicians or engineers. It is to make capable and cultivated human beings.

John Stuart Mill

(education should inspire in us) a love for our neighbour, a desire for clearing human confusion and for diminishing human misery…(it should give us the) noble aspiration to leave the word better and happier than we found it.

Matthew Arnold

quoted in Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists, Hamish Hamilton, 2012, p.102

When I went to uni, the students I met (generally) wanted an education to get a high-paying job to feather their own nests. I’m not sure that 3-6 years there changed their heart to love of neighbour…


Philosophers must become kings

September 16, 2009

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.

Plato, Republic, 473 d,e, (380BC)

And these philosopher-rulers (presumably men like Plato himself), says Plato, will be ‘saviours of our society’ (Republic, 502, d)

in The Republic, Plato’s hope for change for the better in man’s lot is the application of external factors, i.e. educational, environmental and of course through eugenics (good breeding). Bad nurture causes ills he avers.

Plato, like Marx and Rousseau failed to appreciate the need to transform man by the new birth. They believed in changing society to change man instead of changing man that society would be transformed.

The consequence of this thinking is the totalitarianism that flowed through their political children: From Marx the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union etc., and from Rousseau the Terror of the French Revolution.

Don’t let ‘intellectuals’ run anything

September 13, 2009

Bertrand Russell wanted to create young people, ‘freed from fear and inhibitions and rebellious or thwarted instincts…A generation educated in fearless freedom will have wider and bolder hopes than are possible to us, who still have to struggle with the superstitious fears that lie in wait for us below the level of consciousness. Not we, but the free men and women whom we shall create, must see the new world, first in their hope, and then at last in the full splendour of reality.’ War, famine, and even death itself, he implied, could be abolished if we brought up our children correctly. Scientific psychology (i.e. behaviourism of the John Watson school) would allow us to ‘train the instincts’ to produce ‘a harmonious character, constructive rather than destructive, affectionate rather than sullen, courageous, frank and intelligent…If existing knowledge were used and tested methods applied, we could, in a generation, produce a population almost wholly free from disease, malevolence and stupidity.

His son, subject to his behaviourist methods, went mad and was unable to hold together his marriage, look after his children or even himself. He became completely alienated from his father during his adult life.

Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell: The Ghost of Madness, pp.9-10

This sentiment may have been part of the problem too: Unless care is taken, the child feels (immensely important)…Do not let the child see how much you do for it, or how much trouble you take…Above all, we should not give the child a sense of self-importance which later experience will mortify, and which, in any case, is not in accordance with the facts.


Mission Schools in South Africa

September 10, 2009

Talking about his older cousin Nelson Mandela states:  “We were both Methodists, and I was assigned to his hostel, known
as Wesley House, a pleasant two-storey building on the edge of the campus. Under his tutelage, I attended church services with him at nearby Loveday, took up soccer (in which he excelled), and generally followed his advice. Fort Hare, like Clarkebury and Healdtown, was a missionary college. We were exhorted to obey God, respect the political authorities and be grateful for the educational opportunities afforded to us by the Church and the government. These schools have often been criticized for being colonialist in their attitudes and practices. Yet, even with such attitudes, I believe their benefits outweighed their disadvantages. The missionaries built and ran schools when the government was unwilling or unable to do so. The learning environment of the missionary schools, while often morally rigid, was far more open than the racist principles underlying government schools. Fort Hare was both home and incubator of some of the greatest African scholars the continent has ever known.

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 1994, p.52

Give me four years to teach the children

September 1, 2009

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.

Vladimir Lenin

Ideas have Consequences

August 30, 2009

Schools rule the world.

Martin Luther, Table Talk

Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state. The state will take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child belongs to us already….what are you?


The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.

Abraham Lincoln

The actions of men proceed from their opinions; and in the well governing of men’s opinions consists the well governing of their actions, in order to their peace and concord.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, II, 18

The limits of education

August 5, 2009

If education were a cure-all then we need only to tell all the smokers that it was bad for their health and they would instantly give up. If education were a universal panacea then we need only get the information to unhealthy eaters and obesity would drop in a few months. If education alone were the answer then no-one would break any laws because they would understand the negative consequences of their anti-social behaviour and feel heartily ashamed of all the hurt and expense they have caused.

Jim Gourlay

Poverty and Lack of Education not the causes of terrorism

August 5, 2009

The man who captured Daniel Pearl (US journalist murdered in Pakistan), Ahmed Omar Sheikh, attended a UK public school and the L.S.E. He was a highly educated British Pakistani, yet he was associated with al-Qaeda and Harkat ul-Mujahideen.

cf. also the 9/11 leader, M. Atah, who was well educated and from a wealthy background.

Myth of Neutral Education

June 28, 2009

“… Further, it is on our heart very heavily to stir up our friends to rescue some of the scholastic influence of our adversaries out of their hands. In the common schools of England church influence is out of all proportion with the number of the Episcopal body and the proportion of the Nonconforming churches. We have too much given up our children to the enemy, and if the clergy had possessed the skill to hold them, the mischief might have been terrible; as it is, our Sabbath schools have neutralized the evil to a large extent, but it ought not to be suffered to exist any longer; a great effort should be made to multiply our day schools, and to render them distinctly religious, by teaching the gospel in them, and by labouring to bring the children as children to the Lord Jesus. The silly cry of Nonsectarian is duping many into the establishment of schools in which the most important part of wisdom, namely, the fear of the Lord, is altogether ignored; we trust this folly will soon be given up, and that we shall see schools in which all that we believe and hold dear shall be taught to the children of our poorer adherents.

CH Spurgeon, The Full Harvest, ch.10, 1973, p.161

George Whitefield on Education

November 23, 2008

Whitefield on Education

(an exchange between the renowned deist Benjamin Franklin and the evangelist George Whitefield in 1749. Franklin planned to found an academy in Philadelphia, and to this end sought to enlist the support of his friend Whitefield.)

It is true you say “The youth are to be taught “”some public religion, and “the excellency of the Christian religion in particular”; “but methinks this is mentioned too late, and too soon passed over. ‘As we are all creatures of a day, as our whole life is but one small point between two eternities, it is reasonable to suppose that the grand end of every Christian institution for forming tender minds should be to convince them of their natural depravity, of the means of recovering out of it, and of the necessity of preparing for the enjoyment of the Supreme Being in a future state … Arts and sciences may be built on this, and serve to embellish and set off this superstructure, but without this, I think there cannot be any good foundation’.

George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, Vol.2 by Arnold Dallimore, page 445