chapter  6
8 Pages

Socialism and the educated working class

The main question is, what is an education, and by what criteria do we judge whether a person has been truly or successfully educated? Or indeed, by whose criteria? For the Middle Ages, a capacity to read Latin might be a reliable rule; and for Renaissance and post-Renaissance cultures, the ability to write it, too. But in the eighteenth century the question 'who is educated?' becomes an essentially contested issue. From now on, the criterion of Latin literacy is much too narrow; but one based on vernacular literacy would be much too broad. If we appealed to academic qualifications, we might have problems distinguishing the valid from the bogus; in any case, even the most liberal academic criterion would be far too restrictive. Almost no women would count as educated by that standard; and men like Mill, Dickens and Spencer would also be excluded. Even though these outsiders often treated formal educational qualifications with great respect, there were plenty of

insiders(MarkPattison,forinstance)whodenouncedacademic honoursasanenemyofintellectualexcellence.