Commentaries and Legislation

There appear to be two opposing models of education; the idealist and the utilitarian.  The idealists stem from the classical theorists from the Socratic school and more recently writers such as John Dewey and John Holt (see below) who feel that you educate to help the person.   The utilitarians see education as a tool to create wealth in society and so concentrate on the skills required by industry.  This page has two lists, one for each model.  As yet, I have not found any literature which claims the utilitarian model produces better education.   However, there is a lot said about how to mitigate the effects of traditional English/Welsh educational practice (click here).  Those commentators, such as Socrates, who have also contributed to the study of education have been listed on both pages.

Commentaries (how it ought to be)

This includes political/social commentary as well as those who comment on educational practice.

Commentator Year Source Overview Video Link
Socrates Elenchus or Socratic method ~400BC Euthyphro and Ion both by Plato. The Socratic method of teaching involves a discussion in which hypotheses are eliminated by exploring all their ramifications and finding any contradictions or inconsistencies.  If either is found then the hypothesis is rejected, a new one formulated and then tested.  This cycle, Socrates believed, would lead to a better understanding of the world.  Poor behaviour, he argued was just the result of not understand the implications of this behaviour - it was an educational issue. YouTube
Aristotle On Education ~340BCE Charles Hummel (1999) on the works of Aristotle Aristotle equated education with being civilised and happy.  He saw an education in both the arts and sciences as being a political tool to bring about a happy and self-fulfilled society. YouTube
John Amos Comenius Didactica Magna 1657 Didactica Magna All children, regardless of the circumstance of their birth, should have an education based on their abilities and individual learning preferences. YouTube
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Development of reasoning 1762 Emile Current educational practice stifles education because it seeks to regiment the material, its presentation and method of understanding.  Creativity is discouraged by rote learning. YouTube
Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori Montessori education 1910 Pedagogical anthropology Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace and in their own way so that they enjoy their education.  The method assumes that children learn by doing. YouTube
John Dewey Social behaviorism 1938 Experience and Education This constructivist theory says that all learning happens through unique and individual experience, rather than by rote learning (the prevalent view at the time).  This experience then leads to a growth (learning and social awareness).  All learning should be in context, i.e. learn about flowers by looking at them in the field rather than in a textbook. YouTube
John Holt Unschooling 1964 Unschooling web site Unschooling - Children like to learn, but do not like to be taught.  They can be taught by guiding rather than by dictat.
How Children Fail
Paul Goodman Compulsory Mis-education 1964 Compulsory Mis-Education and the Community of Scholars. Education is run as a repressive social system rather than to educate the young as Thomas Jefferson would have wanted.  He envisaged an educational system in which there were schools with 25 pupils, one teacher, a housewife, a university graduate and someone who had just finished schooling. YouTube
Herbert Kohl The Open Classroom 1967 Teaching the Unteachable This and his subsequent work advocate education as a tool to empower poor and handicapped children to achieve and therefore escape their surroundings.  He saw children being stigmatised by their circumstances of birth and railed against it. YouTube
Paulo Freire Critical pedagogy 1968 About Pedagogy of the Oppressed Challenging the ways of teaching, both by the teachers and by the students.  Both staff and students have to feel free to criticise and question both the style and the content of the material being taught. YouTube
James Herndon The Way It Spozed To Be 1968 The Way It Spozed To Be He examines what is still the root problem of ghetto schools: their failure to reach the kids, their obsession with rote learning, and imposed discipline, which only drives kids further into apathy and rebellion. YouTube
George Dennison The Lives of Children 1969 The Lives of Children "As an educator he promoted the idea that relationships, not instruction, promoted real learning. As such schools needed to be places where freedom of choice created the trust that allows for a full relationship between teachers and students. These ideas were considered radical because they questioned compulsory attendance and the focus on external student behavior to enhance student management. Since the focus on controlling student behavior interferes with relationship, his work suggests a preference for small schools and an implied criticism of large schools, especially in their ability to be effective with high risk students. He believe teaching was an art, not really a science and, as such, it was never technique that caused learning to occur, but rather the full complexity of individual relationships between students and teachers that were not reducible to the predictability of technique. Further, he felt that much of significant learning occurs strictly within the students individual motivation and between students, when the teachers are wise enough to stand aside and allow it to occur.", Wikipedia article on George Dennison No video ... yet
Ivan Illich Deschooling society 1971 Deschooling Society The educational institutions have more to do with teaching conformity than providing an education. YouTube
Charles E. Silberman Crisis in the Classroom 1971 Crisis in the Classroom Silberman argues that urban and rural schooling in the USA consists of rote learning driven by adults not appreciating the dull, dreary nature of the school day and by Principals following the system. No video ... yet
Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger Situated Learning 1991 Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger (1991) Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press Learning is based on and through relevant and engaging learning activities.  This is a constructivist approach. YouTube
Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities 1991 Savage Inequalities Kozol argues that segregation is alive and well in the educational system in the USA (and by implication, in other countries too).  He cites the resources provided as the cause of these inequalities. YouTube
John Taylor Gatto Dumbing Us Down 1991 Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling Schooling confuses pupils, teaches them their place in society, makes them intellectually dependent and shows that they will always be supervised. YouTube
Sir Kenneth Robinson Enhancing creativity 2013 Finding Your Element: How To Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life Current educational practice stifles education because it seeks to regiment the material, its presentation and method of understanding.  Creativity is discouraged. YouTube


English\Welsh Educational Legislation

(how it works)

Legislation sourced from the excellent Education in England web site which goes into much more detail.  Legislation before 1870 tended to concentrate on enabling education.  It was only with the 1870 Elementary Education Act that the process of education was being proscribed.

Church school history sourced from the equally valuable GEL web site.

Name of Act Year Overview Video Link
Elementary Education Act 1870 This brought in primary education for all children aged between 5 and 13. YouTube