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Bertrand Russell:

‘education as the power of independent thought'

by Chris Shute £7.49 (inc UK pp) 978-1-900219-21-1  (pp)

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Those devoted to the idea of belief as the purpose of education must first extinguish imagination:

The first thing 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.”

But belief is attractive:

“All sorts of intellectual systems - Christianity, Socialism, Patriotism etc. - are ready, like orphan asylums, to give safety in return for servitude.  A free mental life cannot be as warm and comfortable and sociable as a life enveloped in a creed.”

Bertrand Russell valued the fact that he had been educated at home:

“I am glad I did not go to school.  I would have had no time for original thought, which has been my chief stay and support in troubles.”

But, paradoxically, he set up a school for his own children. This venture was not as successful as he had hoped.  He noted that one reason was that he overestimated the amount of time children need to be in the company of other children.  There is an opportunity-cost.  Whilst in the company of peers of equal immaturity, lack of wisdom, experience and reflection. you cannot be in the company of others who might help you grow.


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