chapter  1
13 Pages

Ambiguities in liberal education and the problem of its content

ByR. S. Peters

INTRODUCTION If one was mounting a defence of certain distinctive values in education nowadays, I doubt whether one would run up the flag of ‘liberal education’ in order to mark what one stood for. The term itself suggests the sweetness and light of the nineteenth century rather than the ‘relevance’ and ‘validity’ of the twentieth. Liberal policies, too, notoriously lack the positive cutting edge of the radical and the defensive solidarity of the conservative. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the term itself is not particularly in vogue, the ideas behind it are; for contemporary complaint is against constraints of any sort, and the unifying idea behind liberal education is that of the unimpeded and unconstrained development of the mind. The concept, therefore, is of considerable contemporary relevance whatever one says about the phrase.