Original Source: Education and the Social Order, 1932, chapt. 12: Competition in Education
普通の教師は、まず子供達の想像力を抹殺する( kill in )仕事に着手する。教師には、子供の想像力は － 特に競争が厳格な優劣の順位（ order of merit ）が必要とされる場合には－ 手におえない不都合なものと思われる。・・・
( The first thing the average educator sets to work to kill in the young is imagination. Imagination is lawless, undisciplined, individual, and neither correct nor incorrect; in all these respects it is inconvenient to the teacher, especially when competition requires a rigid order of merit. ...
The same sort of thing happens to many boys and girls in school. If they are compelled to tackle problems that are definitely beyond their powers, a kind of bewildered terror seizes hold of them, not only in relation to the particular problem in question, but also as regards all intellectually neighbouring territory. Many people are bad at mathematical subjects all their lives because they started them too young. Of the capacities tested in school, the power of abstract reasoning is the latest to develop, as may be seen from the data collected in Piaget's valuable book on Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, A pedagogue, unless he is very psychological and very experienced, cannot believe that children are as muddle-headed as they are: so long as the right verbal responses are obtained, it is supposed that the subject is understood. ... To prevent this kind of misfortune, it is necessary that teachers should have some knowledge of psychology, considerable training in the art of teaching, and a certain freedom to relax the curriculum where necessary. To know how to teach is at present thought desirable in those who teach the poor, but the sons of“gentlemen” are still taught by wholly untrained teachers. This is one of the unpredictable results of snobbery.
Chapter XII Competition in Education
Of the dominant ideals of the nineteenth century, some have survived into our age, and some have not. Those that have survived have, for the most part, a more restricted field of application in our day than they had a hundred years ago. And of these the ideal of competition is a good example. It is, I think, a mistake to regard the belief in competition as due to Darwinism The opposite is really the case . it was Darwinism that was due to belief in competition. The modern biologist, while he still believes in evolution, has much less belief in competition as its motive force than Darwin had; and this change reflects the change which has come over the economic structure of society. Industrialism began with large numbers of small firms all competing against each other, and at first with very little help from the State, which was still agricutural and aristocratic. Early industrialists, therefore, beheved in self-help, laisser fairer and competition. From industry, the idea of competition spread to other spheres. Darwin persuaded men that competition between diflferent forms of life was the cause of evolutionary progress. Educationists became persuaded that competition m the class-room was the best way to promote industry among the scholars.
Belief in free competition was used by employers as an argument against trade-unionism, and is still so used in the backward parts of America. But competition between capitalists gradually dimmished. The tendency has been for the whole of one industry to combine nationally, so that competition has become mainly between nations, and much less than formerly between different firms within a given nation Meantime, it has naturally been the endeavour of capitalists, while combining themselves, to hinder combinations as much as they could where their employees were concerned. Their motto has been: “United we stand, divided they fall.” Free competition has thus been preserved as a Great Ideal in all provinces of human life, except in the activities of industrial magnates. Where the industrial magnates are concerned, the competition is national, and therefoie takes the form of encouraging patriotism.
In education, the ideal of competition has had two kinds of bad effects On the one hand, it has led to the teaching of respect for competition as opposed to co-operation, especially in international affairs ; and on the other hand, it has led to a vast system of competitiveness m the class-room, and m the endeavour to secure scholarships, and subsequently in the search for jobs This last stage has been somewhat softened, where wage-earners are concerned, by trade-umomsm. But among professional men it has retained all its unmitigated severity.
One of the worst defects of the belief in competition in education is that it has led, especially with the best pupils, to a great deal of over-education At the present day there is a dangerous tendency, in every country of Western Europe, though not in North or South America, to inflict upon young people so much education as to be damaging to imagination and intellect, and even to physical health. Unfortunately, it is the cleverest of the young who suffer most from this tendency, in each generation the best brains and the best imaginations are immolated upon the altar of the Great God Competition To one who has, as I have had, experience at the umversity of some of the best minds of a generation, the damage done by overstrain in youth is heart-rending The educational machine in the United States is in many ways inferior to those of Western Europe, but in this respect it is better than they aie. Able young postgraduates in America seldom have the breadth of culture or the sheer extent of erudition that is to be found in the same class in Europe, but they have a love of knowledge, an enthusiasm for research, and a freshness of intellectual imtiative which in Europe have usually given place to a bored and cynical correctness. To learn without ceasing to love learning is difficult, and of this difficulty European educators have not found the solution.
The first thing the average educator sets to work to kill in the young is imagination. Imagination is lawless, undisciplined, individual, and neither correct nor incorrect; in all these respects it is inconvenient to the teacher, especially when competition requires a rigid order of merit. The problem of the right treatment of imagination is rendered more difficult by the fact that, in most children, it decays spontaneously as interest in the real world increases. Adults in whom imagination remains strong are those who have retained from childhood something of its emancipation from fact ; but if adult imagination is to be valuable, its emancipation from fact must not spring from ignorance, but from a certain lack of slavishness. Farinata degli Uberti held Hell in great contempt, in spite of having to live there for ever. It is this attitude towards fact that is most likely to promote fruitful imagination in the adult.
To pass to more concrete considerations, take such a matter as children’s drawing and painting. Most children, from about five years old to about eight, show considerable imagination of a pictorial kind if they are encouraged but otherwise left free. Some, though only a small minority, are capable of retaining the impulse to paint after they have become self-critical. But if they have been taught to copy carefully and to aim at accurate representation, they become increasingly scientific rather than artistic, and their painting ceases to show any imagination. If this is to be avoided, they must not be shown how to draw correctly except when they themselves ask for instruction, and they must not be allowed to think that correctness constitutes merit. This is difficult for the teacher, since artistic excellence is a matter of opinion and individual taste, whereas accuracy is capable of objective tests. The social element in school education, the fact of being one of a class, tends, unless the teacher is very exceptional, to lead to emphasis upon socially verifiable excellences rather than upon such as depend upon personal quality. If personal quality is to be preserved, definite teaching must be reduced to a minimum, and criticism must never be carried to such lengths as to produce timidity in self-expression. But these maxims are not likely to lead to work that will be pleasing to an inspector.
The same thing, at a slightly later age, applies to the teaching of literature. Teachers tend to teach too much, and to make up silly rules of style, such as that no sentence should begin with “and” or “but.” Definite rules of grammar must of course be observed, though even grammar is more elastic than most teachers suppose. Any child who wrote:
And damned be him that first cries hold, enough
would be reproached not only for profanity but also for bad grammar. In regard to literature, as in regard to painting, the danger is lest correctness should be substituted for artistic excellence. The teaching of literature should be confined to reading, and the reading should be intensive rather than extensive. It is good to know by heart things from which one derives spontaneous pleasure, and it is totally useless, from the standpoint of education in literature, to read anything, however classical, which does not give actual delight to the reader. The literature that is read with avidity and known intimately moulds diction and style, whereas the literature that is read once coldly merely promotes pseudo-intelligent conversation. Pupils should, of course, write as well as read, but what they write should not be criticized, nor should they be shown how, in the teacher's opinion, they might have written it better. So far as writing is concerned, there should be no teaching.
Passing from imagination to intellect, we find somewhat similar considerations relevant, together with certain others connected with fatigue. Fatigue may be general or special ; the former is to be considered in connection with health, but the latter should be borne in mind by all who are engaged in intellectual training. Readers may remember Pavlov's dog, who learnt to distinguish ellipses from circles. But as Pavlov gradually made the ellipses more nearly circular, there came at last a point -- where the ratio of major and minor axes was 9 : 8 -- at which the dog's powers of discrimination gave way, and after this he forgot all that he had previously learnt on the subject of circles and ellipses. The same sort of thing happens to many boys and girls in school. If they are compelled to tackle problems that are definitely beyond their powers, a kind of bewildered terror seizes hold of thenm, not only in relation to the particular problem in question, but also as regards all intellectually neighbouring territory. Many people are bad at mathematical subjects all their lives because they started them too young. Of the capacities tested in school, the power of abstract reasoning is the latest to develop, as may be seen from the data collected in Piaget’s valuable book on Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, A pedagogue, unless he is very psychological and very experienced, cannot believe that children are as muddle-headed as they are: so long as the right verbal responses are obtained, it is supposed that the subject is understood. Arithmetic and mathematics generally are learnt at too early an age, with the result that, in regard to them, many pupils acquire the artificial stupidity of Pavlov's canine student of geometry. To prevent this kind of misfortune, it is necessary that teachers should have some knowledge of psychology, considerable training in the art of teaching, and a certain freedom to relax the curriculum where necessary. To know how to teach is at present thought desirable in those who teach the poor, but the sons of“gentlemen” are still taught by wholly imtrained teachers. This is one of the unpredictable results of snobbery.
Fatigue damages the actual quality of the intellect, and is therefore very grave. Less disastrous, though still seriously harmful, is the discouragement of interest in intellectual things which results from the fact that much of what is taught is (or at least seems) wholly useless. Take any average class of a hundred boys : I should guess that ninety of them learn only from fear of punishment, nine from a competitive desire for success, and one from love of knowledge. This lamentable state of affairs is not inevitable. By means of short hours, voluntary-
lessons, and good teaching, it is possible to cause about 70 per cent, to learn from love of knowledge. When this motive can be invoked, attention becomes willing and unstramed, with the result that fatigue is greatly diminished and memory greatly improved. Moreover, the acqisition of knowledge comes to be felt as a pleasure, with the consequence that It is likely to be continued after the period of formal education is ended. It will be found that more is learnt in the shorter hours of voluntary lessons than in the longer times of enforced and inattentive boredom. But the teacher must adapt the instruction to the pupils' sense of what is worth knowing, and not attempt to bully them into an insincere pretence that ancient rubbish has some occult and mysterious value.
Another intellectual defect of almost all teaching, except the highest grade of university tuition, is that it encourages docility and the belief that definite answers are known on questions which are legitimate matters of debate. I remember an occasion when a number of us were discussing which was the best of Shakespeare's plays. Most of us were concerned in advancing arguments for unconventional opinions, but a clever young man, who, from the elementary schools, had lately risen to the university, informed us, as a fact of which we were unaccountably ignorant, that Hamlet is the best of Shakespeare's plays. After this the subject was closed. Every clergyman in America knows why Rome fell it was owing to the corruption of morals depicted by Juvenal and Petronius. The fact that morals became exemplary about two centuries before the fall of the Western Empire is unknown or Ignored English children are taught one view of the French Revolution, French children are taught another ; neither is true, but in each case it would be highly imprudent to disagree with the teacher, and few feel any inchnation to do so. Teachers ought to encourage intelligent disagreement on the part of their pupils, even urging them to read books having opinions opposed to those of the instructor. But this is seldom done, with the result that much education consists in the instilling of unfounded dogmas in place of a spirit of inquiry. This results, not necessarily from any fault in the teacher, but from a curriculum which demands too much apparent knowledge, with a consequent need of haste and undue definiteness.
The most senous aspect of over-education is its effect on health, especially mental health. This evil, as it exists in England, is a result of the hasty application of a Liberal watchword, “equality of opportunity.” Until fairly recent times, education was a prerogative of the sons of the well-to-do, but under the influence of democracy it was felt, quite rightly, that higher education ought to be open to all who could profit by it, and that ability to profit by it depended in the main upon intellect. The solution was found in a vast system of scholarships depending upon scholastic proficiency at an early age, and to a very large extent upon competitive examinations. Belief in the sovereign virtues of competition prevented anyone from reflecting that boys and girls and adolescents ought not to be subjected to the very severe strain involved. If the strain were only intellectual it would be bad enough, but it is also emotional : the whole future of a boy or girl, not only economically, but socially, turns upon success in a brief test after long preparation. Consider the situation of an intelligent boy from a poor home, whose interests are almost wholly intellectual, but whose companions care nothing for books. If he succeeds in reaching the university, he may hope to make congenial friends and spend his life in congenial work; if not, he is doomed not only to poverty but to mental solitude. With this alternative before him, he is almost certain to work anxiously but not wisely, and to destroy his mental resiliency before his education is fimshed.
While the evil is obvious to every one who has experience of teaching in a university, the remedy is not easy to devise. It is probably undesirable, and certainly financially impossible, to give a university education to everybody; consequently some method of selection is necessary, and the method must depend chiefly upon intellectual proficiency. It would be better if the strain were not so concentrated as it is when it depends upon an examination, and if teachers could select a certain proportion of their pupils on the basis of their general impression. No doubt this would lead to a certain amount of toadying and favouritism, but probably these evils would be less grave than those of the present system. It would be well to select those who were to have a university education at the age of twelve, after which they should not be subjected to competition, but only to reasonable conditions of industry. And at the age of twelve they should be selected rather for intelligence than for actual proficiency.
This is a merit in the intelligence tests, which are too little used in England, though in America they are relied upon to an extent for which there is, to my mind, no scientific justification. Their merit is not that they are infallible ? no test can be that ?
but that they bring out more or less correct results on the whole, and that they do not demand the exhausting and nerve-racking preparation which is reqmred for the usual type of exammation.
In urban areas, and wherever there is a sufficient density of population, there ought to be special schools for very clever boys and girls, as there already are for the mentally deficient. A beginning has been made in this direction in America,(* See Gifted Children, by Hollmgworth, Chapters IX and X ) but as yet only on a small scale.
Some of the results are interesting. For example : a boy whose intelligence quotient was 190 (100 being the average) was found in an ordinary school, where he had no friends and was regarded as a fool. He was transferred to a special class for boys with median intelligence quotient 164, where he was quickly recognized as a leader and “was elected to many posts of trust and honour ” A great deal of needless pain and friction would be saved to clever children if they were not compelled to associate intimately with stupid contemporaries. There is an idea that rubbing up against all and sundry in youth is a good preparation for life. This appears to me to be rubbish. No one, in later life, associates with all and sundry Bookmakers are not obliged to live among clergymen, nor clergymen among bookmakers. In later life a man’s occupation and status give an indication of his interests and capacities. I have, in my day, lived in various different social strata ? diplomatists, dons, pacifists, gaol-birds, and politicians ? but nowhere have I found the higgledy- piggledy ruthlessness of a set of boys. Intellectual boys, for the most part, have not yet learnt to conceal their intellectuality, and are therefore exposed to constant persecution on account of their oddity. The more adaptable among them learn, in time, to seem ordinary and to put on a smooth and vacuous exterior, but I cannot see that this is a lesson worth learning. If you walk through a farmyard, you may observe cows and sheep and pigs and goats and geese and ducks and hens and pigeons, all behaving in their several ways: no one thinks that a duck should acquire social adaptability by learning to behave like a pig. Yet this is exactly what is thought so valuable for boys at school, where the pigs tend to be the aristocracy.
The advantages of special schools for the cleverer children are very great. Not only will they avoid social persecution, thereby escaping much pain and emotional fatigue and all the lessons in cowardice which cause clever adults often to prostitute their brains in the service of powerful fools. From a purely intellectual point of view they can be taught much faster, and not have to endure the boredom of hearmg things that they already understand being explained to the other members of the class; moreover, their conversation with each other is likely to be of a sort to fix knowledge in their memory, and their spare-time occupations can be intelligent without fear of ridicule. Nothing can be urged against such schools except administrative difficulties and that form of democratic sentiment
which has its source in envy. At present, every clever boy or girl feels odd; in such an environment this feeling would disappear.
One of the difficulties of every large educational machine is that the administrators are, as a rule, not teachers, and have not the experience required for knowing what is possible and what is impossible. When a man begins to teach, unless he teache. s selected groups of specially intelligent pupils, he finds with surprise that young people learn much less and much more slowly than he had supposed. A subject may be well worth knowing, but nevertheless not worth teaching, because in the time available most pupils will learn nothing of it. The tendency of those who construct a curriculum without having experience of teaching is to put too much into it, with the result that nothing is learnt thoroughly. On the other hand, the experienced teacher is apt to have a different bias, which is just as undesirable : he tends, largely because he must place pupils in order of merit, to prefer those subjects in which there can be no doubt whether the pupil has given the right answer. The long vogue of Latin grammar has been partly attributable to this source. Arithmetic, for the same reason, is overvalued; in British elementary schools it takes up far more of the time than it should. The average man should be able to do accounts, but beyond that he will seldom have occasion for sums. What he may have learnt of complicated arithmetic will be of no more practical use to him in later life than would the amount of Latin he could have learnt in the same time, and of far less use than what he could have learnt of anatomy and physiology and elementary hygiene.
The problem of over-education is both important and difficult. It is important because a clever person who has been over-educated loses spontaneity, self-confidence, and health, and thereby becomes a far less useful member of the community than he might have been. It is difficult because, as the existing mass of knowledge grows greater, it becomes increasingly laborious to know all that is relevant, both in the more complicated practical questions and in scientific discovery
. We cannot therefore avoid the evils of over-education by merely saying . “Let boys and girls run wild and not be bothered with too much learning.” Our social structure increasingly depends upon trained and well-informed mtelligence. The present world-wide depression is largely due to lack of education on the part of practical men : if bankers and politicians understood currency and credit, we should all, from the highest to the lowest, be much richer than we are. The advancement of science ? ^to take another illustration ? cannot continue at anythiag like its present rate unless a man can reach the frontiers of existmg knowledge by the time he is twenty-five, since few men are capable of profound origmality after the age of thirty. And the average citizen cannot play his part in a complicated world unless he is more accustomed than at present to view practical issues as matters to be decided by the application of trained intelligence to masses of fact, rather than by prejudice, emotion, and clap-trap. For all these
reasons, intellectual education is a vital necessity in the modern social order.
There must be suj05cient instiuction, and there must not be the evils of over-education. This demands three things. First and foremost, there must be as little emotional strain as possible m connection with the acquisition of knowledge; this requires great changes in the system of exammations and scholarships, and the segregation, wherever possible, of the cleverer pupils. Emotional strain is the chief cause of harmful fatigue ; purely intellectual fatigue, like muscular fatigue, is repaired each night during sleep, but emotional fatigue prevents sufficient sleep or makes it unrestful through bad dreams. During education, therefore, young people should, as far as is at all possible, have a care-free existence.
The second thing required is a drastic ehmination of instruction that serves no useful purpose I do not mean that children and young people should only acquire what is termed “useful” knowledge, but that they should not learn thmgs merely because they always have been learnt. I have frequently questioned young people lately finished with school as to what they had learnt of history. I have generally found that they had done English history from Hengest and Horsa to the Norman Conquest, over and over again, m each new class, and that beyond that they knew nothing. I may be exceptional, but I have never yet found myself m a situation where it was really profitable to know about (say) the relations of the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex in the eighth century. There is much in history that is abundantly worth knowing, but this is hardly ever taught in schools .
The third thing required is that all higher instruction should be given with a view to teaching the spirit and technique of inquiry rather than from the standpoint of imparting the right answers to questions. Here, again, examinations are to blame The young person who has to pass (say) an elementary examination in English literature will probably be well advised to read no single word of any of the great writers, but to learn by heart some manual giving all the information except what is worth having For the sake of examinations, young people have to learn by heart all kinds of things, such as dates, which it is far more sensible to look up in books of reference. The proper sort of instruction teaches the use of books, not useless feats of memory designed to make books unnecessary. This is already recognized as regards post-graduate work, but it ought to be recognized at a much earlier stage of education. And the pupil’s research should not be judged by the orthodoxy or otherwise of the conclusion arrived at, but by the extent of knowledge and the reasonableness of the argument This method will not only teach the power of forming sound judgements and keep alive the learner’s initiative, but will make the acquisition of knowledge interesting, thereby diminishing very greatly the amount of fatigue involved in the process. The fatigue of intellectual work is largely due to the effort of forcing oneself to give attention to what is boring, and therefore any method that removes the boredom also removes most of the fatigue.
By these methods it is possible to become highly educated without endangering health and spontaneity But this is not possible while the tyranny of examinations and competition persists Competition is not only bad as an educational fact, but also as an ideal to be held before the young. What the world now needs is not competition but organization and co-operation; all belief in the utility of competition has become an anachronism. And even if competition were useful, it is not in itself admirable, since the emotions with which it is connected are the emotions of hostility and ruthlessness. The conception of society as an organic whole is very difficult for those whose minds have been steeped in competitive ideas. Ethically, therefore, no less than economically, it is undesirable to teach the young to be competitive.