Education/Learning

 


 

[1791]  Wilhelm von Humboldt,  The Limits of State Action, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1993

-  "I would observe that men have reached a pitch of civilization beyond which it seems they cannot ascend except through the development of individuals; and hence all institutions which act in any way to obstruct or thwart this development, and press men together into uniform masses, are now far more harmful than in earlier ages of the world.
It seems to follow, even from these few and general reflections, that national education - or that which is organized or enforced by the State - is at least in many respect very questionable. The grand, leading principle, towards which every argument hitherto unfolded in these pages directly converges, is the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity." (p. 48)

-  "... if there is one thing more than another which absolutely requires free activity on the part of the individual, it is precisely education, whose object it is to develop the individual." (p. 48)

-  "But even though we were to deny to national education all positive contribution to culture of any kind, if we were to make it its duty simply to encourage the spontaneous development of men's faculties, this would still prove impracticable, since whatever has unity of organization invariably produces a corresponding uniformity of results, and thus, even when based on such principles, the utility of national education is still inconceivable. If it is only intended to prevent the possibility of children remaining uninstructed, it is much more convenient and less harmful to appoint guardians where parents are remiss, or to subsidize them when they are indigent." (p. 50)

-  "In fine, if education is only to develop a man's faculties, without regard to giving human nature any special civic character, there is no need for the State's interference. Among men who are really free, every form of industry becomes more rapidly improved - all the arts flourish more gracefully - all the sciences extend their range. In such a community, too, family ties become closer; parents are more eagerly devoted to the cure of their children, and, in a state of greater well-being, are better able to carry out their wishes with regard to them. Among such men emulation naturally arises; and tutors educate themselves better when their fortunes depend upon their own effort than when their chances of promotion rest on what they are led to expect from the State." (pp. 50-51)

 

[1960] Elie Kedourie, Nationalism, Blackwell, Oxford, 1998, fourth expanded edition

- "... on nationalist theory, education must have a central position in the work of the state. The purpose of education is not to transmit knowledge, traditional wisdom, and the ways devised by a society for attending to the common concerns; its purpose rather is wholly political, to bend the will of the young to the will of the nation. Schools are instruments of state policy, like the army, the police and the exchequer." (p. 78)

 

[1962]  Milton Friedman with the assistance of Rose D. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1982

-  "It is important to distinguish between 'schooling' and 'education'. Not all schooling is education nor all education, schooling. The proper subject of concern is education. The activities of government are mostly limited to schooling." (p. 86)

-  "In terms of effects, denationalizing schooling would widen the range of choice available to parents." (p. 91)
-  "If present public expenditures on schooling were made available to parents regardless of where they send their children, a wide variety of schools would spring up to meet the demand." (p. 91)

-  "... if [the parents] send their children to private non-subsidized schools they are required to pay twice for education - once in the form of general taxes and once directly." (p. 93)

 

[1965]  E. G. West,  Education and the State. A study in political economy, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded,  Liberty Press, Indianapolis, 1994

-  "In so far as the proposed government intervention is conceived in the form of our present nationalized system of state schooling in preference to the mere provision of finance in the shape of subsidies to parents or to private schools, it has to be demonstrated not only that formal schooling is in all circumstances the best possible medium of education (better then, say, a mixture of television instruction, the use of public libraries, correspondence courses and parental tuition), but also that state schools are more efficient than subsidised private ones." (p. 46)

-  "The evidence shows ... that the majority of people in the first half of the nineteenth century did become literate (in the technical sense) largely by their own efforts. Moreover, if the government played any role at all in this sphere it was one of saboteur!
  As long as the first few years of the nineteenth century it was a subject for government complaint that the ordinary people had become literate. For the government feared that too many people were developing the 'wrong' uses of literacy by belonging to secret 'corresponding societies' and by reading seditious pamphlets. Far from subsidising literacy, the early nineteenth-century English governments placed severe taxes on paper in order to discourage the exercise of the public's reading and writing abilities." (p. 48)

-  "Here then we have the paradox of a public managing to educate itself into literary competence from personal motives and private resources, despite the obstacle of an institution called government which eventually begins to claim most of the credit for the educational success." (p. 49)
-  "Perhaps some people think that the majority of Victorians would have been too poor to afford education if the government had left them on their own. If so, this is an illusion which has obviously been encouraged by the increasing dependence of successive generations upon state education financed by taxes on themselves, taxes which so often fall inconspicuously on many goods and services, and which seem to have become accepted partly by habit and partly by absent-mindedness." (p. 49)

-  "Many people would point to the dangers to political democracy of state education machinery which could easily become, as in Hitler's Germany and in some African countries today, an organ of propaganda to maintain a government in perpetual power." (p. 54)

-  "... the state in the nineteenth century was not so much the creator of new schools (the popular image) as a powerful take-over bidder of other schools, making use of its practically overwhelming resources." (p. 88)

-  "... as late as 1869, [in England] two thirds of school expenditure was still coming from voluntary sources, especially from the parents, directly or indirectly." (p. 165)

-  "[In England] the numbers [of pupils] in schools had increased from 478,000 in 1818 to 1,294,000 in 1834 'without any interposition of the Government or public authorities'."
  "It seems reasonable, therefore, to infer that when the government made its debut in education in 1833 mainly in the role of a subsidiser it was as if it jumped into the saddle of a horse that was already galloping." (pp. 172-173)

 

[1976]  Leopold Kohr,  The Over-developed Nations, Christopher Davies, Swansea, Wales, 1976

-  "A uniform and, therefore, collectivist system of education must be established if for no other reason than to train the citizen in the ability to understand in the briefest terms the directives of the great co-ordinating Big Brother as George Orwell calls the phenomenon, or the government as the rest of us call it." (p. 93)

 

[1999]  Martin van Creveld,  The Rise and Decline of the State, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999

-  "... around the turn of the century, it was claimed that the French minister of education, for example, could tell you what was being taught in each one out of a hundred thousand classrooms by simple looking at his watch." (p. 215)

-  "In Germany, Bismarck waged the Kulturkampf from 1872 on; in France a Radical government came to power in 1900 and closed all religious schools until 1914, when they were allowed to reopen." (p. 217)

-  "... democratization [of schooling] could not explain why, in virtually every country, children were increasingly forced to study the 'national' language at the expense of their mother tongue - quite the contrary. Nor can it account for the constant parading, flag-saluting, anthem-singing, and hero-worshipping that went on in many places, to say nothing of the need to 'foster loyalty to one Kaiser, one army, one navy' (Germany); assist the 'race' in its 'battle for life' (Britain); and prevent 'the power of national defence from lagging behind that of other countries' (the United States)." (p. 217)

-  "All [welfare, schooling, police] sought to achieve the same end, namely to make sure that no person and no institution should be in a position to resist any 'lawful' demands made on it by the state. The torture chamber and the concentration camp merely completed the work that the classroom  had begun :

  What did you learn at school today
  Dear little boy of mine?
  What did you learn at school today
  Dear little boy of mine?
  I learnt our country is good and strong !
  Always right and never wrong !
  I learnt our leaders are the best of men !
  That's why we elect them again and again.
  What did you learn at school today ..."

(pp. 223-224)