The Conservative Case for Education argues that educational thinking in English-speaking countries over the last fifty years has been massively influenced by a dominant liberal ideology based on unchallenged assumptions. Conservative voices pushing against the current of this ideology have been few, but powerful and drawn from across the political spectrum. The book shows how these twentieth-century voices remain highly relevant today, using them to make a conservative case for education.

Written by a former government adviser and head teacher, the book focuses on four of the most powerful of these conservative voices: the poet and social critic T. S. Eliot, the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, the political thinker Hannah Arendt and the educationist E D Hirsch. In the case of each thinker, the book shows how their ideas throw fresh light on contemporary educational issues. These issues range widely across current educational practice and include: creativity, cultural literacy, mindfulness, the place of religion in schools, education for citizenship, the teaching of history and Classics, the authority of the teacher, the arguments for and against a national curriculum, the educational response to cultural diversity, and more. A concluding chapter sums up the conservative case for education in a set of Principles that would be acceptable to many from the Left, as well as the Right of the political spectrum.

The book should be of particular interest to educators and educational policy makers at a time when ‘conservative’ governments are in power in the UK and the USA, as well as to researchers, academics and postgraduate students engaged in the study of educational policy, or those studying educational issues from an ethical, philosophical and cultural standpoint.

chapter |11 pages


Confronting education’s group think

part 1|110 pages

T S Eliot

chapter 1|5 pages

Eliot as student and teacher

chapter 4|14 pages

Educating the Few and the Many

chapter 5|6 pages

Compulsion versus choice

chapter 6|15 pages

How we forgot about the nation state

Education for identity and citizenship

chapter 7|8 pages

Educating for prejudice (and against it)

chapter 9|11 pages

Is there any future for Classics?

chapter 10|9 pages

Creativity depends on transmission

part 2|50 pages

Michael Oakeshott

chapter 12|9 pages

School as a place apart

chapter 13|16 pages

The project to abolish ‘School’

chapter 14|8 pages

Moral, political and historical education

chapter 15|7 pages

The decline of the University

From Cardinal Newman to the 2015 Higher Education Green Paper

part 3|26 pages

Hannah Arendt

chapter 16|11 pages

Radical objectives and conservative pedagogy

chapter 17|13 pages

The need to stop and think

part 4|18 pages

E D Hirsch

chapter 18|16 pages

The pariah strikes back

Teaching for cultural literacy

chapter |13 pages


The Fifteen Principles of a conservative case for education