H. G. Wells Declares Modern Education Fails to Cope With Complex Modern World
H. G. WELLS advances in Public Opinion some new ideas on the subject of education. After stating that too much time is spent on historical trivialities such as the amours of Charles II and the bickerings of England and Scotland, he continues:
Archaeologists have been piecing together a record of the growth of the primary civilizations and the developing roles of priest, king, farmer, warrior, the succession of stone and copper and iron, the appearance of horse and road and shipping in the expansions of those primordial communities. It is a far finer story to tell a boy or girl, and there is no reason why it should not be told. Swinging down upon these early civilizations came first the Semitic-speaking peoples and then the Aryan-speakers. Persian, Macedonian, Roman followed one another, Christendom inherited from Rome and Islam from Persia, and the world began to assume the shapes we know today.
This is a. great history, and also in its broad lines it is a simple histon,-—upon it we can base a lively modern intelligence, and now it can be put in a form just as comprehensible and exciting for the school phase as the story of our English kings and their terrestrial, dynastic and sexual entanglements.
For the next five-and-twenty years the ordinary man all over the earth will be continually confronted with systems of ideas. They are complicated systems with many implications and applications. Indeed they are aspects of life rather than systems of ideas. But we send out our young people absolutely unprepared for the heated and biased interpretations they will encounter. We hush it up until they are in the thick of it.
Our young people need now a more detailed and explicit acquaintance with world geography, with the different types of population in the world and the developed and undeveloped resources of the globe. The devastation of the world’s forests, the replacement of pasture by sand deserts through haphazard cultivation, the waste and exhaustion of natural resources, coal, petrol, water, that is now going on, the massacre of important animals, whales, penguins, seals, food fish, should be matters of universal knowledge and concern.
Then our new citizens should be given an account of the present phase of communication and trade, of production and invention, and above all they need whatever plain knowledge is available about the conventions of property and money. Upon these conventions human property stands, and the efficiency of their working is entirely dependent upon the general state of mind throughout the world.
We know now that what used to be
called the inexorable laws of political
economy and the laws of monetary
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Continued, from page 25
science are really no more than rash
generalizations about human behavior,
supix>rted by a maximum of pompous
verbiage and a minimum of scientific
observation. Most of our young jx?ople
come on to adult life, to employment,
business and the rest of it, blankly ignor-
ant even of the way in which money has
changed slavery and serfdom into wages
employment and how its fluctuations in
value make the industrial windmills spin
They are not even warned of the significance of such words as inflation or deflation, and the wage earners are the helpless prey at every turn toward prosperity of the savings-snatching financier. Any plausible monetary charlatan can secure their ignorant votes. They know no better. They cannot help themselves. Yet the subject of property and moneytogether they make one subject because money is only the fluid form of property— is scarcely touched upon in any stage in the education of any class in our community.
By adolescence the time has arrived for general ideas about one’s personal relationship to the universe to be faced. The primary propositions of the chief religious and philosophical interpretations of the world should be put as plainly and impartially as possible before our young people. They will be asking those perennial questions of adolescence—whence and why and whither. They will have to face, almost at once, the heated and exciting propagandas of theological and sceptical partisans—pros and antis.
As far as possible we ought to provide a ring of clear knowledge for these inevitable fights. And also, as the more practical aspect of the question, What am I to do with my life? I think we ought to link with our general study of social structure a study of social types which will direct attention to the choice of a métier. In what spirit will you face the world and what sort of job do you feel like?
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