THE PLACE OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION
By W. BATESON
Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution
That secondary education in England fails to do what it might is scarcely in dispute. The magnitude of the failure will be appreciated by those who know what other countries accomplish at a fraction of the cost. Beyond the admission that something is seriously wrong there is little agreement. We are told that the curriculum is too exclusively classical, that the classes are too large, the teaching too dull, the boys too much away from home, the examination-system too oppressive, athletics overdone. All these things are probably true. Each cause contributes in its degree to the lamentable result. Yet, as it seems to me, we may remove them all without making any great improvement. All the circumstances may be varied, but that intellectual apathy which has become so marked a characteristic of English life, especially of English public and social life, may not improbably continue. Why nations pass into these morbid phases no one can tell. The spirit of the age, that “polarisation of society” as Tarde used to call it, in a definite direction, is brought about by no cause that can be named as yet. It will remain beyond volitional control at least until we get some real insight into social physiology. That the attitude or pose of the average Englishman towards education, knowledge, and learning is largely a phenomenon of infectious imitation we know. But even if we could name the original, perhaps real, perhaps fictional, person—for in all likelihood there was such an one—whom English society in its folly unconsciously selected as a model, the knowledge would advance us little.