chapter  5
11 Pages

Education, morals and religion

It is generally held that there is a close connection between education and morals and between education and religion. Indeed, many people in the past believed, although perhaps not so many would do so today, that the whole point of education lies in its moralising and religious force. Dr Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby, believed it to be the business of the public school to turn out Christian gentlemen. Cardinal Newman in his Discourses on university teaching emphasised the integral part which religious studies must play, as he saw it, in any system of liberal education. The great significance given to religious teaching in this country is reflected in the provision that such teaching should be regarded as compulsory in all schools covered by the Education Act of 1944. The assumption that education should be concerned with the moral life of the pupil is one that few teachers and parents would care to contest. In its strongest form the conviction would be that moral and religious teaching are essential to education, in that education is not really possible without them. We may note here that such a view would constitute a theory about education, that is, the theory that education necessarily involves a religious and moral content. It is such a theory which prescribes that in all state schools in this country the day should include some form of corporate worship, and which convinces many teachers that they have an obligation, as teachers, to further the moral training and religious beliefs of their pupils. The philosopher of education may point out here that such a theory may rest on, and derive its plausibility from, a stipulative use of the term ‘education’, whereby the inclusion of a moral and religious element is made a part of the meaning of the term. Whether or not this is a useful move to make will be examined briefly in this chapter, which takes a philosophical look at the theory, to test its credentials as a theory of education.