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School society nation popular essays in education

Robert Owen (1771-1858), social and educational reformer, remains a controversial and enigmatic figure. Having profited enormously from enterprise in the early Industrial Revolution he set about trying to remedy its excesses through environmental, educational, factory and poor law reform. Synthesizing reformist ideas from the Age of Enlightenment and drawing on his own experience as an industrialist he constructed (1816), a rallying call for widespread social change, with education at its core. New Lanark, the test-bed for his ideas, became internationally famous.

School Society Nation: Popular Essays in Education …

And is there any one so blind to the realities of life as to imagine that the emoluments of a private schoolmaster have in general any substantial connection with the merit and efficiency of his teaching? In the first place, he has a direct pecuniary interest in neglecting all studies not cared for by the general public, or by the section of it from whom he hopes for patronage. In those which they do care for, a little trouble goes much farther in aiming at a mere appearance of proficiency, than at the reality. The persons whom he has to satisfy are not experienced examiners, who take pains to find out how much the pupil knows, and are judges of it; but parents, most of whom know little of what is taught at schools, or have forgotten what they knew; many of whom do not test their child’s knowledge by a single question, it being enough for them that he has been at what is called a respectable school—and who desire no better than to take for granted that all is right, and that the certificates or prizes which the children bring home from the master are the earnings of desert, not bribes for the good word of parents. These are not the mere abuses, but the natural fruits, of the trading principle in education; accordingly, the disclosures of the Schools Enquiry Commission have been as damning to the character of the private, as to that of the endowed, schools. When the pupil himself reflects, too late, that his schooling has done him no good, the impression left upon him, if he is one of the common herd, is not that he was sent to a bad when he ought to have been sent to a good school, but that school altogether is a stupid and useless thing, and schoolmasters a set of contemptible impostors. It is difficult to see, in the operation of the trading principle, any tendency to make these things better. When the customer’s ignorance is great, the trading motive acts much more powerfully in the direction of vying with one another in the arts of quackery and self-advertisement than in merit. Those parents who desire for their children something better than what the private schools afford, and do not find that something better in the endowed schools as at present conducted, sometimes combine to form the subscription schools commonly called proprietary. This private election, as it were, of a schoolmaster, by a rate-paying qualification, is an improvement, as far as it goes, for those who take part in it; but as it is only had recourse to by parents who have some perception of the badness of the private schools, it makes the case of these last, if anything, rather worse than before, by withdrawing that small portion of parental influence which would really be exercised, and probably exercised beneficially. And the worth even of the Proprietary Schools depends on that of the high public institutions which are the trainers of schoolmasters, and whose certificates or honours are the chief evidence, often the only tolerable evidence available, to guide the proprietors in their choice.

The liberal school: a gateway to a plural society/Abid Hussain

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It is not with this express purpose that the Commissioners have made the recommendation; it is because they believe that in itself it would be the greatest improvement in national education to which the endowments provided for the superior departments of instruction could possibly be applied. The work would be further carried on by the endowments of the Universities; which are already partly expended in scholarships, to aid the maintenance of those who have shown themselves worthy, but would not otherwise be able, to pursue the studies of the University. There are other important uses, which need not here be discussed, to which University endowments may be, and to some extent are, very suitably applied: for instance, the maintenance of professors, and in some cases the encouragement of students, in kinds of knowledge never likely to be sought by more than a few, but which it is of importance to mankind that those few should have the means of finding; such as those ancient languages which are chiefly valuable philologically; comparative philology itself, which has of late years yielded such a harvest of interesting and valuable knowledge; historical erudition in many of its departments; and, it may be added, the highest branches of almost all sciences, even physical: for the speculative researches which lead to the grandest results in science are not those by which money can be made in the general market.

The endowments destined by the founders for purely elementary education were not within the scope of the Commission: and respecting these there is no difficulty, as they evidently ought to be applied in aid of that general plan for making elementary instruction universal, which statesmen and the public almost unanimously agree that it has become a duty to provide. The endowments with which the Commissioners were concerned were those that were intended to give an instruction superior to the elementary. These they propose should be taken, large and small together, to form, not indeed one common fund, but funds common to each of the districts into which the country is divided for registration purposes; each of these funds to be managed as a whole, and made to go as far as it can in establishing good and large schools for that district. This most judicious proposal is in accordance with one of the great educational principles with which Mr. Chadwick has so perseveringly identified himself—that there cannot be good teaching at a moderate expense in small schools. In a small school the same master is obliged to teach too many things, and to teach the same thing simultaneously to scholars differing too much in their degree of advancement; to the detriment necessarily of some, and generally of all. The schools proposed by the Commissioners are of three different grades, adapted not to adventitious differences in the quarter from whence the pupils come, but to the number of years which their parents are able and willing to spare for their instruction before they enter into active life. But the most important of all the Commission’s recommendations, showing an appreciation of the duties of society in the matter of education, the most enlightened that ever yet proceeded from any public authority in the United Kingdom, is that of which I have now to speak. The State does not owe gratuitous education to those who can pay for it. The State owes no more than elementary education to the entire body of those who cannot pay for it. But the superior education which it does not owe to the whole of the poorer population, it owes to the of them—to those who have earned the preference by labour, and have shown by the results that they have capacities worth securing for the higher departments of intellectual work, never supplied in due proportion to the demand. It is therefore proposed by the Commissioners that the principal use made of the endowments should be to pay for the higher education of those who, in the course of their elementary instruction, have proved themselves to be of the sort on whom a higher education is worth bestowing, but whose parents are not in a condition to pay the price. The fruits of such a proposal, under any tolerable arrangements for carrying it into effect, would be almost beyond human power to estimate. The gain to society, by making available for its most difficult work, not those alone who can afford to qualify themselves, but all those who would qualify themselves if they could afford it, would be but a part of the benefit. I believe there is no single thing which would go so far to heal class differences, and diminish the just dissatisfaction which the best of the poorer classes of the nation feel with their position in it. The real hardship of social inequalities to the poor, as the reasonable among them can be brought to see, is not that men unequal, but that they are born so; not that those who are born poor do not obtain the great objects of human desire unearned, but that the circumstances of their birth preclude their earning them; that the higher positions in life, including all which confer power or dignity, can not only be obtained by the rich without taking the trouble to be qualified for them, but that even were this corrected (to which there is an increasing tendency), none, as a rule, except the rich, have it in their power to make themselves qualified. By the proposal of the Commissioners, every child of poor parents (for, of course, girls must sooner or later be included), would have that power opened to him, if he passed with real distinction through the course of instruction provided for all; and the feelings which give rise to Socialism would be in a great measure disarmed, in as much of them as is unreasonable or exaggerated, by this just concession to that in them which is rational and legitimate.

The Philippines boasts to be the only Christian nation in Asia

High School Education in America Essay - High School Education in America Education in ..

From these various considerations I do not seek to draw any inference against the possibility that Communistic production is capable of being at some future time the form of society best adapted to the wants and circumstances of mankind. I think that this is, and will long be, an open question, upon which fresh light will continually be obtained, both by trial of the Communistic principle under favourable circumstances, and by the improvements which will be gradually effected in the working of the existing system, that of private ownership. The one certainty is, that Communism, to be successful, requires a high standard of both moral and intellectual education in all the members of the community—moral, to qualify them for doing their part honestly and energetically in the labour of life under no inducement but their share in the general interest of the association, and their feelings of duty and sympathy towards it; intellectual, to make them capable of estimating distant interests and entering into complex considerations, sufficiently at least to be able to discriminate, in these matters, good counsel from bad. Now I reject altogether the notion that it is impossible for education and cultivation such as is implied in these things to be made the inheritance of every person in the nation; but I am convinced that it is very difficult, and that the passage to it from our present condition can only be slow. I admit the plea that in the points of moral education on which the success of Communism depends, the present state of society is demoralising, and that only a Communistic association can effectually train mankind for Communism. It is for Communism, then, to prove, by practical experiment, its power of giving this training. Experiments alone can show whether there is as yet in any portion of the population a sufficiently high level of moral cultivation to make Communism succeed, and to give to the next generation among themselves the education necessary to keep up that high level permanently. If Communist associations show that they can be durable and prosperous, they will multiply, and will probably be adopted by successive portions of the population of the more advanced countries as they become morally fitted for that mode of life. But to force unprepared populations into Communist societies, even if a political revolution gave the power to make such an attempt, would end in disappointment.

The difference between the motive powers in the economy of society under private property and under Communism would be greatest in the case of the directing minds. Under the present system, the direction being entirely in the hands of the person or persons who own (or are personally responsible for) the capital, the whole benefit of the difference between the best administration and the worst under which the business can continue to be carried on accrues to the person or persons who control the administration: they reap the whole profit of good management except so far as their self-interest or liberality induce them to share it with their subordinates; and they suffer the whole detriment of mismanagement except so far as this may cripple their subsequent power of employing labour. This strong personal motive to do their very best and utmost for the efficiency and economy of the operations, would not exist under Communism; as the managers would only receive out of the produce the same equal dividend as the other members of the association. What would remain would be the interest common to all in so managing affairs as to make the dividend as large as possible; the incentives of public spirit, of conscience, and of the honour and credit of the managers. The force of these motives, especially when combined, is great. But it varies greatly in different persons, and is much greater for some purposes than for others. The verdict of experience, in the imperfect degree of moral cultivation which mankind have yet reached, is that the motive of conscience and that of credit and reputation, even when they are of some strength, are, in the majority of cases, much stronger as restraining than as impelling forces—are more to be depended on for preventing wrong, than for calling forth the fullest energies in the pursuit of ordinary occupations. In the case of most men the only inducement which has been found sufficiently constant and unflagging to overcome the ever-present influence of indolence and love of ease, and induce men to apply themselves unrelaxingly to work for the most part in itself dull and unexciting, is the prospect of bettering their own economic condition and that of their family; and the closer the connection of every increase of exertion with a corresponding increase of its fruits, the more powerful is this motive. To suppose the contrary would be to imply that with men as they now are, duty and honour are more powerful principles of action than personal interest, not solely as to special acts and forbearances respecting which those sentiments have been exceptionally cultivated, but in the regulation of their whole lives; which no one, I suppose, will affirm. It may be said that this inferior efficacy of public and social feelings is not inevitable—is the result of imperfect education. This I am quite ready to admit, and also that there are even now many individual exceptions to the general infirmity. But before these exceptions can grow into a majority, or even into a very large minority, much time will be required. The education of human beings is one of the most difficult of all arts, and this is one of the points in which it has hitherto been least successful; moreover improvements in general education are necessarily very gradual, because the future generation is educated by the present, and the imperfections of the teachers set an invincible limit to the degree in which they can train their pupils to be better than themselves. We must therefore expect, unless we are operating upon a select portion of the population, that personal interest will for a long time be a more effective stimulus to the most vigorous and careful conduct of the industrial business of society than motives of a higher character. It will be said that at present the greed of personal gain by its very excess counteracts its own end by the stimulus it gives to reckless and often dishonest risks. This it does, and under Communism that source of evil would generally be absent. It is probable, indeed, that enterprise either of a bad or of a good kind would be a deficient element, and that business in general would fall very much under the dominion of routine; the rather, as the performance of duty in such communities has to be enforced by external sanctions, the more nearly each person’s duty can be reduced to fixed rules, the easier it is to hold him to its performance. A circumstance which increases the probability of this result is the limited power which the managers would have of independent action. They would of course hold their authority from the choice of the community, by whom their function might at any time be withdrawn from them; and this would make it necessary for them, even if not so required by the constitution of the community, to obtain the general consent of the body before making any change in the established mode of carrying on the concern. The difficulty of persuading a numerous body to make a change in their accustomed mode of working, of which change the trouble is often great, and the risk more obvious to their minds than the advantage, would have a great tendency to keep things in their accustomed track. Against this it has to be set, that choice by the persons who are directly interested in the success of the work, and who have practical knowledge and opportunities of judgment, might be expected on the average to produce managers of greater skill than the chances of birth, which now so often determine who shall be the owner of the capital. This may be true; and though it may be replied that the capitalist by inheritance can also, like the community, appoint a manager more capable than himself, this would only place him on the same level of advantage as the community, not on a higher level. But it must be said on the other side that under the Communist system the persons most qualified for the management would be likely very often to hang back from undertaking it. At present the manager, even if he be a hired servant, has a very much larger remuneration than the other persons concerned in the business; and there are open to his ambition higher social positions to which his function of manager is a stepping-stone. On the Communist system none of these advantages would be possessed by him; he could obtain only the same dividend out of the produce of the community’s labour as any other member of it; he would no longer have the chance of raising himself from a receiver of wages into the class of capitalists; and while he could be in no way better off than any other labourer, his responsibilities and anxieties would be so much greater that a large proportion of mankind would be likely to prefer the less onerous position. This difficulty was foreseen by Plato as an objection to the system proposed in his Republic of community of goods among a governing class; and the motive on which he relied for inducing the fit persons to take on themselves, in the absence of all the ordinary inducements, the cares and labours of government, was the fear of being governed by worse men. This, in truth, is the motive which would have to be in the main depended upon; the persons most competent to the management would be prompted to undertake the office to prevent it from falling into less competent hands. And the motive would probably be effectual at times when there was an impression that by incompetent management the affairs of the community were going to ruin, or even only decidedly deteriorating. But this motive could not, as a rule, expect to be called into action by the less stringent inducement of merely promoting improvement; unless in the case of inventors or schemers eager to try some device from which they hoped for great and immediate fruits; and persons of this kind are very often unfitted by over-sanguine temper and imperfect judgment for the general conduct of affairs, while even when fitted for it they are precisely the kind of persons against whom the average man is apt to entertain a prejudice, and they would often be unable to overcome the preliminary difficulty of persuading the community both to adopt their project and to accept them as managers. Communistic management would thus be, in all probability, less favourable than private management to that striking out of new paths and making immediate sacrifices for distant and uncertain advantages, which, though seldom unattended with risk, is generally indispensable to great improvements in the economic condition of mankind, and even to keeping up the existing state in the face of a continual increase of the number of mouths to be fed.

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