chapter  VII
THE COMMUNITY
Pages 17

Total education demands the co-operation of the whole community. It turns to account, in the interests of children, their need of a community, and it employs (and may be devises) various forms of community-life to satisfy that need. It makes use of the environment, both natural and social, in which a child finds himself, takes the actual situations with which he is confronted in living the common life, and tries to lay bare their educational values. It may find material for education in the most unlikely places, as William Cobbett found it in the sandpit : this sand pit was the spot where I was receiving my education, and this (i.e. country life and sports) was the sort of education; and I am perfectly satisfied that if I had not received such an education, or something very much like it ; that, if I had been brought up a milksop, with a nursery-maid everlastingly at my heels, I should have been at this day as great a fool, as inefficient a mortal, as any of those frivolous idiots that are turned out from Winchester and Westminster School, or from any of those dens of dunces called Colleges and Universities. 1

Let me begin with the mobilization of the nation's resources in this service. In the hundred years preceding the outbreak of war in 1939 financial provision for education out of the public purse increased from an expenditure of £2o,ooo per annum to an expenditure of approximately a hundred million : this figure will be roughly doubled when the Education Act of 1944 is in full operation. These sums represent that portion of its income which the nation is prepared to invest in posterity. They are spent in two ways : on the one hand the material facilities for education are provided in schools and colleges ; the money is spent on bricks and mortar, equipment, playing-fields, and the staff needed to make the best use of these : on the other hand, grants on an increasingly adequate scale are provided to enable all children to take advantage of these facilities, whatever the financial means of their parents. It is clear that increased expenditure on the one count must always, unless the money is to be thrown away, mean increased expenditure on the other. We find ourselves in what is a virtuous, and not a vicious, circle: having spent public money on buying the schools for the boys, we make further demands on the public purse to buy the boys for the schools. This is as it should be : we commit ourselves to a mounting spiral, because we believe in education. A striking example of this is to be found in the provision, under the 1944 Act, of " free " secondary education for every boy and girl in the country : while fees may still be charged in certain schools, for those parents unable or unwilling to pay them there are to be other schools available where no fees will be charged : this is fina~cing secondary education on a total scale. The " totality" of the measure, moreover, has another aspect. There is, of course, no such thing as " free " education : if fees are abolished, the only difference to the parent is that instead of paying for the education of his children in a concentrated form while they are actually at school, he pays in the less concentrated and more indirect form of increased rates and taxes throughout his lifetime ; he contributes, moreover, to the education of the children of the . whole community. It is thus that the nation marshals its financial resources for the benefit of the rising generation : whether the expenditure is adequate, when regarded as a proportion of the total national income, or when compared with expenditure on

other objects, may well be doubted; but it is more adequate than ever before, and an increasing number of the general public are learning to regard it as not only a duty but also a profitable investment. Important, however, as this is, the mobilization of man-power is more important still. The recruitment of the professional teacher from a much wider field than in the past, and his training on much more liberal lines, will be considered in a later chapter : 1 the effect should be the manning of our schools with a more human and a more vital body of teachers than we have been accustomed to expect, a strengthening of its ranks from perhaps unexpected quarters, and a general rise in the quality of teaching. But altogether outside this professional army, there is available to us a large body of what the Americans would call " teacher-potential ", and it is the business of total education to realize this potential and to make use of it. The more narrow and professional education is allowed to become, the more likely it is to fail : on the other hand, the closer its conta.cts with human beings in the infinite variety of their occupations, and the greater the interest and support it may command among ordinary men and women, the more likely it is to succeed. This pool of capacity, wisdom, and experience is to be found in home and church, in factory and workshop, on the land and on the sea, in shop and counting-house, and wherever men and women are prepared to give their time and attention not only to the processes whereby they earn their bread-and-butter, but also to the processes whereby the welfare of their children is promoted. It can only be drawn upon when all these are ready to co-operate with the school. It· must be made possible for parents to learn about the upbringing of children : the children themselves, as they pass through the enlightened school of to-day and the more enlightened school of to-morrow, and in particular as they learn there the elementary lessons of nutrition and hygiene which their elders never learnt, will have much to teach their parents ; and when they in their turn become the fathers and mothers of a great to-morrow, ·they will be able to teach their children much that the school teaches to-day, and the home will regain something of its educational function. Much may be learnt also in adult classes : in Soviet Russia the Universities offer Parents' Courses, of two years' duration, in the bringing up of children. The parents must be brought into the schools, and not only on " Open Days " or on special occasions, but as

99 a normal practice : there is no reason why they should not be present at lessons, as they are in Russia. Parents' Associations are capable of considerable development, both in their numbers and in their activities : a national Federation or Council of Parents' Associations could exercise a very real influence on national policy in education. In the future every school is to have its Board of Managers or Governing Body, and there will be an increasing demand for men and women to serve on these : here will be new opportunities for parents to make their voices heard, and to bring the home into the school. Not less important will be the opportunities open to them on Local Education Authorities (whether as elected or as co-opted members) and particularly on Divisional Executives ; the whole raison d'etre of these is the preservation of local interest in education, and it will be a bad day for education if work on these bodies ever comes to be regarded as the business of the professional : the Act regards it as the business of the general public. The general public, however, will be able to make it their business only with the goodwill of their employers, and the man-power for such service can only be provided by the co-operation of industry, commerce, and the professions : will these be prepared to see that their employees enjoy the time and the means for the performance of this public duty ? Much will depend on the answer to that question.