[The following passage is taken from the Moncure Conway Leture for 1922. The lecture, Free Thought and Official Propaganda, was delivered by Bertrand Russell.]
It must not be supposed that the officials in charge of education desire the young to become educated. On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence. Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge, reading and writing, language and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgements for themselves. The first of these we may call information, the second intelligence. The utility of information is admitted practically as well as theoretically; without a literate population a modern state is impossible. But the utility of intelligence is admitted only theoretically, not practically: it is not desired that ordinary people should think for themselves, because it is felt that people who think for themselves are awkward to manage and cause administrative difficulties. Only the guardians, in Plato’s language, are to think; the rest are to obey, or to follow leaders like a herd of sheep. This doctrine, often unconsciously, has survived the introduction of political democracy, and has radically vitiated all national systems of education.
The country which has succeeded best in giving information without intelligence is the latest addition to modern civilisation, Japan. Elementary education in Japan is said to be admirable from the point of view of instruction. But in addition to instruction it has another purpose, which is to teach worship of the Mikado—a far stronger creed now than before Japan became modernised. Thus the schools have been used simultaneously to confer knowledge and to promote superstition. Since we are not tempted to Mikado-worship, we see clearly what is absurd in Japanese teaching. Our own national superstitions strike us as natural and sensible, so that we do not take such a true view of them as we do of the superstitions of Nippon. But if a travelled Japanese were to maintain the thesis that our schools teach superstitions just as inimical to intelligence as belief in the divinity of the Mikado, I suspect that he would be able to make out a very good case.
Click HERE to reach
the associated topic for this webpage.
For more topics click HERE.