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Literature must, however, be used in the right way, and not treated conventionally. The practical use of literature in education distinguished from the pedantic - to give a perception of the difference between convention and reality. The sphere of morals in school life is limited by practical considerations with which we cannot here deal, but it is evident that if science and literature can be ably and enthusiastically taught, the child's natural love of goodness will be strongly encouraged and great progress may be made in the strengthening of the will.To inquire into the position occupied by English (Language and Literature) in the educational system of England, and to advise how its study may best be promoted in schools of all types, including Continuation Schools, and in Universities, and other Institutions of Higher Education, regard being had to - Sir HENRY NEWBOLT, LL. The vast importance to a nation of moral training would alone make it imperative that education shall be regarded as experience and shall be kept in the closest contact with life and personal relations. The facts and needs of the situation as briefly outlined above did not form the starting point of our inquiry, but they forced themselves irresistibly upon our attention from the moment when we first began to consider the present position of English in the educational system of the country.
Many of our great Public Schools, as the Natural Science Committee have pointed out,* though founded originally in the interest of poor scholars, are not open to poor scholars today because the scholarships and exhibitions which they offer are not, as a matter of fact, within the reach of boys from the elementary schools. 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. 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. The most valuable for all purposes are those experiences of human relations which are gained by contact with human beings.
Under this general term are included experiences of different kinds; those which are obtained, for example, by manual work, or by the orderly investigation of matter and its qualities.
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.
Need for wide recognition of the value of a liberal education and of English as the only Literature available by which all may hope to obtain it. Literature, the form of art most readily available, must be handled from the first as the most direct and lasting communication of experience by man to men.
In this respect the classical tradition fails to do justice to English. It must never be thought of or represented as an ornament, an excrescence, a mere pastime or an accomplishment; above all, it must never be treated as a field of mental exercise remote from ordinary life.
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.