30 years ago

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
The nature of learning was at the forefront of the mind of T Drummond Hunter, secretary of the Scottish Health Service Planning Council, who pointed out that doctors' influence on health has been greater than that of teachers on education (TESS, June 4, 1976): Surely today education is no longer about inequalities but about differences. In consequence, it must be redefined in terms of human dignity and well-being, and in terms of responsibility, capacity for joy, creativity, intellectual development and emotional growth . . .

Compulsory education cannot be scrapped overnight and, indeed, if only on grounds of something akin to public hygiene, the three Rs will be compulsory for a long time to come. "Free education", or deschooling in the sense of deinstitutionalising schools so that they can relate in a new way to society, can come only at the end of a long process of social and educational reconstruction . . .

Apart altogether from its present financial difficulties, our system of public education, like that of other industrial countries, is in deep trouble. This crisis shows itself in many ways; but it is a nettle which can and must be grasped.

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