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An unstudious nation

by
09 September 2016

September 8th, 1916.

THERE is a singular irony in the closing of the British Museum at the very moment when the reform and development of national education are being advocated everywhere. If the saving of a little money is pleaded as the excuse, it might be well to consider whether economy could not be better enforced in other directions, so that the work of those whose business is in study should not be interrupted. As a contemporary observes, the actual saving effected by the closing of the Museum would cover the cost of about three minutes of war, but the loss to the studious public ought also to have been considered. The incident gives point to the remarks which Sir Arthur Evans made from the chair of the British Association on Tuesday. He charged the whole nation with having sunk into a state of intellectual apathy beyond any other Western nation. “The dull incuria of the parents is,” he said, “reflected in the children, and the desire for the acquirement of knowledge in our schools and colleges is appreciably less than elsewhere.” It would seem, then, that any scheme of reform for our national education must depend, not upon re-arranged curricula, improved salaries, the reduced size of classes, and, in a word, on improved organization, but on the awakening of the people out of that intellectual apathy of which Sir Arthur Evans complains. With our newspapers reduced to snippety paragraphs and silly illustrations, and the substitution of moving pictures for reading, a new generation is arising that will have no mind for study and solid reading.

 

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