« AnteriorContinuar »
EETROSPECTIVE—THE ORIGINS OF EXISTING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
Education is a subject of perennial interest. As long as there are children to be educated, the ways and means of educating them will always demand forethought and study on the part of parents and community. In that sense there is always, and always will be, an "Education question ".
But this question presents different aspects from time to time—now one, now another side of it becomes prominent. In one decade the great problem is how the State is to introduce itself into the domain of Education; in the succeeding one, how school fees may be got rid of; a later period finds the nation divided into hostile camps because parties cannot agree as to the relation of the Church to the School. Politics, sociology, religion, besides many other subjects, border on the sphere of Education, and even enter into it.
Questions of this kind, whatever their origin, soon become highly controversial; they lie in great part outside Education as it is understood by the philosophic educationist. It is true that no theory of Education laying claim to any sort of completeness can ignore, say, the relation of the School to the Church and to the State. But these problems, abstractly discussed, do not introduce questions of party and sect, as they invariably do when they become matters of discussion on the public platform.
Two inferences may be drawn from this. First, it bears testimony to the importance of Education itself. By common consent the national welfare is inseparably bound up with the interests of the school. The influence exerted by the school is so great that it is worth the while of great parties and great religious denominations to contend vigorously for the control of it. We might go further and say that, apart from all controversial or sectional interest, it is held a worthy ambition for every statesman and public man to promote to the extent of his power the prosperity and efficiency of this great means of advancing the nation's best interests.
The second inference is that through the extent and variety of the meanings attaching to Education, the use of the term is always more or less ambiguous. One must be informed of the exact circumstances before one can so much as understand what the " Education question" of the moment means.
From what has been said it will appear that the Education question is seldom a purely educational question. The contrast might be pointed thus : It is a purely educational question how moral and religious instruction is to be imparted, at what age, or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, during what period, by what agency or agencies; and so is the further problem—what the relation of the moral to the religious is or ought in the school to be. On the other hand, part of the Education question at present, in England if not in Scotland, is in what proportions the different religious sects are to be
represented on the authorities that locally control or mauage the public schools. No one will maintain that the two questions are wholly unconnected, but the connection is not always made evident. Thus " Education " and " Educational " are, in such a context, by no means co-extensive. Education itself means one thing to the teacher or the educationist, quite another to the politician or churchman. The Education question of the moment is very far from being always a purely educational question. One might go on to show how the word takes its colour throughout from the associations of the rank, occupation or ideal of those who employ it; but it is unnecessary to do so here. So much has been said only in order to make it plain that when "the Education question" is spoken of, we must be perfectly certain what is meant. That we have an Education question in Scotland at the present moment needs no proof: that its exact extent and significance are, in general, fully understood is less certain. My purpose in what follows mainly is to examine the chief factors in the educational situation, and to endeavour to discover the principles that underlie them, in accordance with