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Faddists in education

18 January 2013

January 17th, 1913.

EDUCATION has so largely fallen into the hands of faddists of the worst type that we are beginning to think that it ought to be counted a high crime and misdemeanour to be found acting in the capacity of a professor of that subject. We must, however, make an exception in the case of Miss Geraldine Hodgson of Bristol University, whose address at the recent conference of the Association of University Women Teachers at London University contained some admirable remarks on the tendency of modern times to adopt the easiest course. This tendency she easily traced to the inventors of educational systems, which have it for their object to discover and to point out to children the "primrose path" - learning without tears, pleasure without effort, and all the rest of the labour-saving, examination-dodging methods. One day Froebel is the vogue, the next it is Montessori, but the result of pushing these and other like methods to an extreme is, as Miss Hodgson justly observed, to be recognized, as elsewhere, so also in the slackening ideal of English business life. We quote her words: "The abominable work that is done in England day by day continues in many trades - the bad plumbing, the shocking building, the miserable ill-fitting clothes which some good tailors are frequently not ashamed to turn out, the colour-printing which goes abroad because our artisans are too slovenly to use properly the simple mechanism necessary for its production, the shameless dawdling of reputable shops over the execution of orders." We cannot expect our children to become good citizens, Miss Hodgson concluded, if we bring them up to shirk difficulty, to love ease, and to learn only those things in which they are pleased to be interested.


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