Ancient Education And Today (1961)
"In the spring of 1958 the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions declared their revolt against 'a limited culture dominated by the glory of Greece and the grandeur of Rome reflecting little of the achievement, the ideas and the philosophy of modern science'. They wish instead to see evolved a curriculum 'which nurtures all that is good in our human and national heritage and which, therefore, also reflects the importance of science in the mid twentieth century'. Now this suggestion is thoroughly Greek in character, for the ancient Greeks were pre-eminently a people who responded with courage and intelligence to the demands of the times they lived in. They too were able to conceive and construct an educational system relevant to the needs of their age, and technical teachers have no doubt realized that they managed to do this without the aid of any ancient language. The same is not quite true of the Romans, for they eventually had to learn Greek, a 'modern' language for them, partly because their education was Greek education and partly because Greek was the lingua franca of the Roman world.
All this is true. But do the technical teachers also imply that in attempting to discover what is relevant to the spiritual, intellectual, and technical needs of the twentieth century we should regard the Greek experience as irrelevant? The Greeks began European education; they asked the profoundest questions about it; they gave profound answers to their questions both in theory and in practice; they were careful to distinguish between culture and instruction, between value and fact. In brief, they gave a good number of good answers to the questions that beset us today, because they examined the nature of human beings with astonishing insight and were courageous enough to follow the logic of their thinking. Even their failures and perversities can teach us much; and their successes and wisdom we neglect at our peril. The Greeks were superb technicians and artists, and they founded the science of the west, but they resisted the dangerous doctrine that education was instruction in the making of things rather than the rearing of children so that they become good men. This insistent theme in the Greek idea, that education is what makes a man, still defines our modern problem. It reminds us that if we reject the means by which men are taught to control the machines they make, we are certainly not responding to the needs of the mid twentieth century.
No man can escape from the time and place of his birth. British children have been born into the traditions of Western Europe which come down to us in a threefold stream from Greece, Rome, and Judea, continuing to inform and nourish us, as it did our forefathers in the Middle Ages, renaissance, and modern times. We cannot escape it, but we can examine and assess its lessons and transform it to our own modern needs, rejecting and adopting as we will. This small book is an attempt to examine one part of this threefold inheritance, namely, the contributions made by Greece, Rome, and Judea to our educational thinking and attitudes. There are great contrasts in the views of the Greeks, Romans, and Jews on the rearing of children, and it is hoped that these differences have been sufficiently noted. All of them can be detected in the practice of education in our schools today. Readers familiar with the subject will, no doubt, discover many omissions, especially in the sphere of higher education, but I have been chiefly concerned with the education of children, and above all with its moral and disciplinary aspect, for in the end this is what education is really about. In the choice of material I have had the student and general reader in mind." (Preface)
Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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