Its abandonment would do much to smooth the road of education, it would make it possible to secure for the child a living interest and a sense of purpose in his work, and it would replace the old wasteful system of compulsion and mere obedience by a community of interest between pupil and teacher. This community of interest would be felt instinctively and immediately by the pupil, but it is very necessary that it should be consciously understood by all those responsible for the education of the young. This theory has now been critically examined and declared to be of less wide application than was thought.
A quasi-scientific theory has long been accepted that the process of education is the performance of compulsory hard labour, a 'grind' or 'stiffening process', a 'gritting of the teeth' on hard substances with the primary object not of acquiring a particular form of skill or knowledge but of giving the mind a general training and strengthening.
At a later stage we shall endeavour to trace the historical process by which the present divorce between education and reality has come about; in the meantime we note the results.
If there were any common fundamental idea of education, any great common divisions of the curriculum, which would stand out in such a way as to obliterate, or even to soften, the lines of separation between the young of different classes, we might hope to find more easily the way to bridge the social chasms which divide us.
We may recognise that it is at present more difficult than it was some centuries ago to educate the children of rich and poor side by side in the same schools, but this makes it only the more to be regretted that there is no source of unity to be found in the teaching provided by the different types of school.
It is not the storing of compartments in the mind, but the development and training of faculties already existing.
It must be realised that education is not the same thing as information, nor does it deal with human knowledge as divided into so-called subjects.
In this respect we have even fallen away from an earlier and better tradition.
He might have added that a system of education which disunites classes cannot be held worthy of the name of a national culture.
The intercourse of the classroom should be for the student, especially in the earlier stages of development, the most valuable of all, since it is there that he will come under the influence of not one but two personal forces, namely, the creative power of the author whose record he is studying, and the appreciative judgment of the teacher who is introducing him to the intimacy of a greater intellect. Not only must the true nature of education be clearly understood, but it will be a matter of equal importance that the teacher, at any rate, and the student, as soon as may be, should have clear and well founded ideas about morals, science and art.