Typos p. 14 (Part I): occurence [= occurrence]; p. 15 (Part I): occason [= occasion]; p. 12 (Part III): You deserve [= "You deserve]; p. 12 (Part VI): ANGLICAN [= ANGLIAN]; p. 12 (Part VII): PADAGOGIK [= PÄDAGOGIK]; p. 13 (Part VII): PADAGOGIK [= PÄDAGOGIK]; p. 10 (Part VIII): veiw [= view]; p. 11 (Part VIII): retalliation [= retaliation]; p. 11 (Part VIII): guage [= gauge]; p. 13 (Part VII): diciplinarian [= disciplinarian]; p. 12 (Part X): intereference [= interference]; p. 12 (Part X): PÄDOGOGIK [= PÄDAGOGIK]; p. 12 (Part XI): boys schools and boys classes [= boys' schools and boys' classes]; p. 13 (Part XII): intincts [= instincts]; p. 11 (Part XIII): BRITTANIA [= BRITANNIA]; p. 12 (Part XIV): sacro-sanctity [= sacrosanctity]; p. 12 (Part XIV): Friedländer [= Friedlander]
Education in modern England
Anthony M. Ludovici
- p. 14 -
After the vainglorious boasts and prophecies which, at the turn of the century adorned all references to the Free and Compulsory Education then established; and after the high hopes entertained by the founders of the Boys' Brigade in 1884 and the Boy Scouts in 1908, which have aspired to remedying the shortcomings of the home life of the masses, the present state of adolescent and juvenile England must strike the grandfathers of to-day as somewhat surprising, not to say, mysterious.
When we hear of "a party of toughs (for no reason whatsoever except their own youthful exuberance) swearing at people and shoving them off the pavement outside a Hammersmith cinema" (NEW STATESMAN, 19.10.57), and of a gang of twenty-three youths forming up "shoulder to shoulder and forcing pedestrians into the road at Oxford" (DAILY MAIL, 30.10.57); we may feel relieved that nothing more serious than momentary inconvenience and indignant surprise were the outcome of these boisterous antics; for after all "boys will be boys!" But, as cases of grievous injury, if not of death, have sometimes resulted from being thus suddenly plunged into the stream of fast motor traffic we may reasonably entertain some doubts concerning the harmlessness of these adolescent frolics. We may even wonder whether the time has not come to draw a sharp cautionary line between a legitimate display of ebullient spirits and wanton hooliganism. For the riotousness of young blood is by no means confined to the pleasant sport of propelling peaceful fellow-citizens into the roadway. It appears to require more exciting forms of gratification.
To give but a couple of examples among many, we read that in Brighton on Oct. 17th, three youths aged respectively 20, 17 and 17, were charged with demanding money from, and severely beating up, some boys whom they waylaid on the beach. Two of their teenage victims were kicked unconscious, and a third was left almost insensible from violent punches in the face. In sentencing them to various terms of imprisonment, the Recorder (Mr. C. J. A. Doughty, Q.C., M.P.) is reported to have said, "You are more like animals than human beings." (THE BRIGHTON AND HOVE HERALD, 17.10.59).
Yes! But what makes the case all the more alarming and mysterious and, when explained as I hope to explain it in the sequel, what makes the Recorder's rebuke all the more inaccurate, is that, according to a friend of mine who was in court during the trial, had these three youths "been dressed in flannels and photographed in a public-school cricket team", no one "would have picked out their faces as those of toughs. All were good-looking; no one would have put them down, from their appearance, as mentally sub-normal".
The disturbing inference is, therefore, that, not innate hereditary villainy or savagery, but merely upbringing, both at home and at school, was most probably the unique cause of their misdemeanour in short, "Education", as it is now understood in its widest sense in England, as an all-embracing term meaning the preparation of immature humanity for its rôle in civilised society.
Only two days later, i.e., on Oct. 19th, the Press reported that a gang of 16 boys had, in the outskirts of Newcastle, opened fire with airguns on three boys cycling in an old quarry. "For fifteen minutes, volleys of gunfire pinned down the three frightened boys as they took cover behind bushes", and one lad, John Rutherford, is likely to lose the sight of one eye as the result of the affray. It appears moreover that the gang "went on firing although they knew John had been hurt". (DAILY MAIL, 19.10.59).
The repeated occurence of such incidents, of attacks by teenagers on policemen (TIMES: Oct. 16, 1959), and of other forms of unprovoked violence, is naturally causing the gravest anxiety, and many people, among them Members of Parliament and eminent lawyers, including Lord Parker, the Lord Chief Justice, are now clamouring for the restoration of birching.
"Bring back the birch!" Lord Parker exclaimed on Oct. 22nd. "There is a tremendous upsurge of crime . . . the art of crime has increased faster even than the art of detection . . . So much of the increase is in the 17 to 21 age-group" he said, that he urged magistrates "not to be afraid of giving severe and deterrent sentences. Do not let anybody persuade you" he added, "there is no such thing as a deterrent sentence there is." Addressing one woman magistrate, he said that he was "in favour of a short sentence and corporal punishment." (DAILY MAIL, 23.10.59.)
In a debate in Parliament on Oct. 27, Mr. Eric Johnson (Cons. M.P. for the Blackley Div. of Manchester), speaking in favour of the restoration of corporal punishment, expressed surprise at the Home Secretary's and other people's reluctance to re-introduce corporal punishment and he wondered whether they "had any conception of public feeling on the subject. Unless something was done he felt there was a danger of people taking the law into their own hands . . . The figures for assaults by gangs of young people appeared to make nonsense of the statistical part of the argument against bringing back corporal punishment." (TIMES, 28.10.59.)
The considerable opposition to this course comes partly from sentimentalists to whom everything, from Vegetarianism to the marriage of Whites and Blacks, is a matter of the emotions these questions call forth; and partly from people who, although well-meaning and more objective in their judgments, are ill-informed concerning the nature and effect of deterrent measures, and ignorant of the psychological factors involved in asocial behaviour. Not a few of this latter group believe that any severe corporal chastisement merely magnifies the delinquent's already burning hatred of the society he lives in.
Strange as it will seem to many of my readers, however, I take the view that the most disquieting feature about the whole phenomenon of juvenile crime, is less this increasing form of asocial conduct itself, than the fact that there should be so many apparently educated and thoughtful people, from Lord Parker down to the most humble back-bencher in Parliament, who are so far from understanding the fundamental causes of juvenile delinquency and the best means of reducing its incidence, that they can imagine that the restoration of corporal punishment could possibly be of any help in dealing with it. For, at bottom, this conception reveals a state of national ineptitude, in the matter of analysis, so perilous, and a lack of observational powers, so disproportionate to the high level of those responsible for the conception because it is always perilous for a nation to possess a high percentage of inferior thinkers
This is not to say one necessarily sides with the sentimentalists and other objectors to the restoration of corporal punishment. Because both of these groups are as misguided as those who advocate it. Indeed, the whole controversy, as it rages between these two schools, is concerned with matters removed by so many stages from the real crux of the problem, that it is as if a company of people having all suffered from food-poisoning after a certain meal, were content to discover the cause of their discomfiture and to discuss the means of preventing its recurrence, by confining their inquiries into the nature of the occason for which the meal was given.
Except for a faint glimmer of wisdom noticeable here and there in this debate between the advocates of corporal punishment and their opponents, I have been waiting in vain for any contribution from one or more of the contestants, which reveals anything like an intelligent grasp of the factors involved in the problem of youthful crime. By and large, therefore, it seems to me neither unfair nor inaccurate to conclude that the present increasing prevalence of juvenile delinquency, together with the faulty reasoning to which it has given rise, plus such early innovations as the Boys' Brigade and the Boy-Scouts, all spring from the same national source, or defect. Yes, disparate as these different facets of the problem are, or appear to be, I believe they have a common origin, and into the nature of this common origin I propose to inquire in my next articles.
- p. 12 -
The so-called "Flogging Controversy" is by no means a novelty in England. Well over nine years ago it was raging just as vigorously as it is today, and on April 28, 1950, I contributed an article about it to TRUTH, in which I anticipated much of what I propose to state in a more detailed form in this series on Education.
"What England wants swiftly," I wrote on that occasion, "is the means of checking crimes of violence," and I explained somewhat too temperately that I meant by this the "aggressive and bullying behaviour of adolescents." The higher legal luminaries, then as now, were in favour of a restoration of corporal punishment a solution I then strongly condemned; and the fact that, in the interval, no improvement seems to have come over their way of thinking, or over the situation in regard to juvenile crime, lends substantial support to the view that the attitude of both the authorities and the general public towards the problem of delinquency among the young, continues to be marked by a profound misunderstanding of the social and psychological factors involved.
It may have sounded paradoxical to say, as I did in my first article of the present series, that both the persistent increase in adolescent violence (two assaults by youths on policemen within the last fortnight: TIMES, 16.10.1959, and DAILY MAIL, 4.11.59), the controversy over the restoration of corporal punishment as a means of checking it, plus such organizations in England as the Boys' Brigade and the Boy Scouts, were alike in that they had a common origin in the same national defect. But, when I explain that, in my opinion, this national defect consists either in an inability to recognize the fundamental cause of the present plague of juvenile criminality, or else in a craven reluctance by the few who perhaps do recognize it, to face and uproot it, my equation may not appear so far-fetched after all. On the whole, however, I lean to the first alternative; for I cannot believe that if there were a few who had a magisterial grasp of the true cause of the trouble, they could, in view of the gravity of the situation, hold their peace, no matter how disinclined they might be to come out into the open with the unpalatable truths that a frank avowal of the real cause would reveal.
I remember an old Sussex gamekeeper who in the early 'twenties told me of a certain incident that occurred on a shoot held on his master's estate, which, he said, illustrated the defective training of sporting dogs in recent years. Apparently a badly-trained pointer had twice dashed headlong after a hare that the guns had started as they advanced over the stubble, and each time, its fond owner had called it back without the slightest effect. At last, when this had occurred a third time, an angry old peer who owned many acres in the country, exasperated beyond endurance and anxious to give his host a lesson,
"That need never have happened," commented the gamekeeper, "if the dog had been properly schooled from the start. But it was too old to do anything about it then." And he implied that its loss was not to be much regretted and would suitably punish its owner for his defective training of the animal.
This story reminded me of an incident, connected I believe with Diogenes. It is said that when on a certain occasion this Greek philosopher encountered an ill-behaved boy, he paid no attention whatsoever to the latter, but promptly turning to the lad's teacher, proceeded to give him a sound thrashing. Another, even more arresting story is related by the Spanish aristocrat, Juan Luis Vives who, in his INSTRUCTIONS OF A CHRISTIAN WOMAN (1523, Book II, Chap. XI), says, "There is a certain tale of a young man who, when he was led to execution, desired to speak to his mother. And when she came, he laid his mouth to her ear and bit it off. And when people that were by rebuked him, calling him not only a thief but also accursed for so treating his mother, he answered: 'This is her reward for bringing me up as she did'!" (Translation by Richard Hyde, 1540).
Vives, commenting on this incident, says: "It lieth more in the mother than men ween to make the conditions (i.e. mould the character) of the children. For she may make them whether she will, very good or very bad . . . O mothers, what an occasion for you unto your children, to make them whether you will, good or bad!"
There is an obvious lesson to be learned from these three tales about a Sussex gamekeeper, a badly-behaved Greek boy, and a Spanish criminal going to his death. For although the particular incidents may not be known to everybody, their equivalent cannot fail to have formed part of everyone's experience and been familiar to mankind for thousands of years. Nor does it seem necessary to point out that this lesson is to the effect that correction and discipline may come too late in a creature's life to serve any useful purpose that, after a certain age, which varies of course according to the kind of living creature concerned, its effect in modifying conduct and moulding character is in inverse ratio to the degree of maturity attained; and that to thrash a dog of say three or four years, for instance, as I have too often seen male and female dog-owners do, when their "pet" has misbehaved, is no more than gratuitous and futile brutality. The proper recipients of such thrashings, as Diogenes would certainly have pointed out, are such dog-owners themselves.
We now begin to perceive the enormity of the error committed by the advocates of a restoration of corporal punishment for the correction of youths and adolescents well beyond the tender and impressionable years of infancy and early childhood, and to appreciate how ominous it must be for a nation when its élite can include exalted members who are capable of this error and of pressing their view upon the legislature. For, fundamentally, it indicates, not only their radical misunderstanding of what should be meant by a sound education, as a means of moulding character and conditioning conduct in a youngster so as to fit him for a free life in civilized society, but also their still more serious misunderstanding of the proper timing of discipline in the life of young creatures, whether animal or human. People who are ready apodictically to maintain that you cannot put horses or dogs through their paces too soon, and that if one is to be a good horseman, tennis-player or shot, one cannot begin too early in life, will in the same breath speak of that general education which prepares us for civilized society, as if it were totally emancipated from the laws which govern the acquisition of skill and expertise in games, arts and sciences.
Owing to the vulgar conception of education as a means of acquiring merely enough factual knowledge to enable one to earn a livelihood a conception against which the greatest minds of Europe, from Locke and Kant to Herbart and Freud, appear to have laboured in vain modern people, falsely indoctrinated regarding almost every question, tend to place Education in a class by itself and to regard it as divorced from the exigencies of all such gruelling experiences as apprenticeship for the more difficult skills. Its most essential feature, which is its training for decent conduct in civilized society, is wholly forgotten; and that explains how it is that the modern world has grown utterly careless of Education's most vital stage the period from infancy to adolescence, when all the essential folds are ironed into the character of the individual human being or animal, never to be entirely obliterated, even if he could live a millennium.
Hence modern society's frivolous unconcern about the quality and competence of the mothers of the nation, i.e., that section of the community alone responsible for the earliest training of the rising generation. Hence the modern world's unpardonable carelessness about the fitness of mothers for their momentous task, and about the principles they should observe in discharging their most important duties. Hence too, therefore, the foundation of such organizations as the Boys' Brigade and the Boy Scouts, which look away from motherhood and aspire to remedying the shortcomings of the home life of the masses, not by improving this home life but by removing children from it!
For if, at the time when these institutions were founded, there were, quite justifiably, grave doubts concerning the quality of the home life of the masses for moulding desirable character, the proper and only effective way of dealing with the problem, would have been to take steps to regenerate the home-life of the masses and inculcate upon the adults of the nation who were actually, or hoped soon to become, parents, those principles and exigencies of early education, which, although they must be restricted to the home, are the most important of all. Above all, it was essential to see that the parental influence and example especially the mother's should be the best possible in the circumstances; because to her had to be entrusted the period of infancy, up to about seven years, when the most important character-folds of a growing human being are acquired.
To pretend that institutions outside the home could make good what was wanting inside the home, was merely burking the issue; it was a form of escapism, which obviously held out no hope whatsoever. And the fact that the nation was satisfied that the best possible course had been adopted, although the home-life of the masses, except for its material conditions, was left unaltered, shows how profoundly the problem had been misunderstood. No wonder things have gone from bad to worse. Only those who still fail to appreciate this can feel astonished at some of the revelations recently provided by the inquiry into the affairs of Carlton Approved School.
Giving evidence in Bedford before the investigating committee on November 6th, the Head Master declared that "there had been deterioration in the type of boy received, and that they were more anti-authority and prone to physical violence." He said, "what he might call 'good boys' were not allowed to exercise their influence, and boys who showed their interest by working well were
In my next article I propose to deal with the connection between this state of affairs and the whole question of parenthood and particularly motherhood in modern England.
- p. 12 -
Almost daily, fresh evidence comes to hand of the deplorable lack of insight into the problem of juvenile delinquency, shown by the more highly cultivated people of the nation. Two more examples of this lack appeared on Sunday, Nov. 8th. The first was a newspaper report about a Berkshire magistrate, Mr. Leonard Hackett, Chairman of the Wokingham Bench, who, in sentencing a 15-year-old boy, accused of theft and indecency, said: You deserve a thrashing that will leave you senseless for 48 hours." (SUNDAY EXPRESS, 8.11.69).
Naturally, loud protests greeted this comment, and Viscount Kilmuir, the Lord Chancellor, is said to be inquiring into the case. But, from the start, we may be sure that no action will be taken by the Lord Chancellor's department, which will reveal any better understanding of juvenile delinquency, its cause and cure, than that shown by Mr. Hackett himself, or by those who expressed their horror at his remark. Indeed, it is unlikely that any one of these objectors will display any greater awareness than he does of the fact that, as Mr. Frank Richardson has observed: "The need for corporal punishment is usually in itself a confession of failure." (PARENTHOOD AND THE NEWER PSYCHOLOGY, 1926, p. 148). Failure in what and on whose part? Failure in the early moulding of character in a young human being, on the part of those who were responsible for his upbringing.
The second example was supplied by a B.B.C. broadcast at 9.15 p.m. on the evening of Nov. 8th (ASKING THE WORLD), in which an international panel of learned gentlemen replied to questions put to them by members of the public. One question related to the cause of the recent increase in juvenile delinquency, and not one of the members of the panel had the foggiest notion about it. In fact, the discussion that developed out of their attempts to explain it, was utterly destitute of any understanding of the fundamentals of the question. For some time they debated whether T.V. might possibly be promoting criminal tendencies in the young; which sufficiently illustrates how wide of the mark they still were.
This blindness on the part of the cultivated and the general public is all the more surprising, seeing that scientific psychologists and sociologists have for many years now been repeating ad nauseam that the most important factor in the genesis of moral depravity and criminal behaviour in the young, is lack of proper control and guidance by parents in the earliest years of childhood, plus the bad example they constantly give to their children by their defective self-control, their self-indulgence, inconsistency, and untruthfulness, and their habit of being over-tolerant and unaccountably irascible and tyrannical by turns.
Thus, Guilfoyle Williams (PSYCHOLOGY OF CHILDHOOD AND MATURITY, 1946, p. 48), referring to the mistakes of parents in dealing with their children in the early years, says: "Little wonder that many a personality has been warped for life by the faults of the parents, particularly the mother"; and, regarding the self-assertiveness, conceit and over-weening claims so characteristic of the typical juvenile delinquent, he says, these traits "arise from the conception of the individual formed when self-consciousness first developed as a child of three or four years of age; they originate in a wrong atmosphere in the home and in a wrong attitude of the parents, particularly the mother." (Op. cit. p. 188).
C. W. Valentine, discussing difficult children (THE DIFFICULT CHILD AND THE PROBLEM OF DISCIPLINE, pp. 9192), says, "The mother is more usually the lax disciplinarian . . . it is usually the mother who does the extreme spoiling of the child, which is liable to make him a difficult child."
Madeline Kerr, writing of a district in Liverpool, and of a street in which "every house has a boy away at an
In a Report of the year 1954, issued by the Commissioners of Prisons, both broken homes and poverty are said to have nothing whatsoever to do with causing juvenile delinquency. "Lack of parental control is obvious and still more of parental example," say the Commissioners. "Too many prisoners reach their 18th birthday without having been taught the elementary principles of right and wrong." The Governor of Wormwood Scrubbs Prison, in his evidence on Juvenile Crime, also declared that most of the youths charged "claim to live in good homes and to be earning good wages." He confirmed the view that lack of parental control and instruction was the principal root of the trouble and pointed out that what the delinquents had wanted was "steady positive guidance." (TIMES and DAILY MAIL, 20.8.55).
One authority, Dr. R. S. Illingworth, Professor of Child Health at the University of Sheffield, goes so far as to maintain that even so-called "Backward Children" and those mentally handicapped, owe their defects to the mistakes of their parents. "It is easy," he says, "to ascribe much of the bad behaviour of backward children to their inherent retardation, when in fact it is due to parental mismanagement and lack of discipline." (BRIT. MED. JOURN. 2.7.55: Article, "The Retarded Child").
When, therefore, we are told by Dr. Jos. V. Walker (HEALTH OF THE CITIZEN, 1951, Chap. X) that our society hardly understands the word "Discipline", can we wonder that young people brought up in such a society should be utterly beyond control by the time they reach adolescence, and should become gaolbirds before they are 25?
Finally for it is impossible to quote all the testimony supporting the claim that it is that part of "Education" which the child receives especially from early infancy to his seventh or eighth year that determines the kind of creature he will be in adulthood here is the opinion of one who for some time was Chief Clerk of the London Juvenile Courts. This gentleman, Mr. F. T. Giles, in his book, THE JUVENILE COURTS (1946, p. 98), says: "If there is one conclusion more than another to be drawn from the psychological examinations, it is that many of the young people appearing before the courts, would never have done so had they been luckier with their parents."
Writing some 400 years ago, Montaigne flatly denied that parents were fit persons to educate their children (ESSAIS, Livre I, Chap. XXXVI). But this is much too sweeping; for we know of many great Europeans who owed their qualities, both of character and workmanship, to the upbringing their parents, and in some cases their mothers alone, gave them. What then has come over modern parents in the West, and particularly over modern mothers, which has made them a menace rather than a boon to their children?
Unpopular as the point of view may be, I venture to suggest that what has happened is that, never before in the history of our race, have mothers been so dominant in the homes of the masses and yet so destitute of a sound tradition and wise principles concerning the educational needs of their children, more especially in the early years. Seemingly unaware of the immense responsibility that falls to their lot, and of the vital importance of that stage in education which covers the years from early infancy to the threshold of adolescence, they tend to leave everything to chance and, what is worse still, to let themselves go, whether in fits of unreasoning adulation and benevolence, or of bad temper and bullying, without once reflecting on the example they are giving to their child, or on the character they are slowly but surely moulding in him.
It is true that, as things are, they get little if any help in their momentous task, from the institutions of the modern State. Whereas there are many sources from which they can obtain information about an infant's proper diet and general management in the matter of health and hygiene, no wise influence presides over their own behaviour in its presence, or over their method of directing their child's own behaviour in order to fit it for the society it will ultimately enter as an adult. In this sense, most young children to-day are left to the mercy of their mother's momentary impulses and moods; to her ignorant conception of what is "kind", although the kindness in question may relate only to the immediate present and hardly ever to the future. And since modern society grants women almost carte blanche in all their decisions, both domestic and even political, there is in all mothers to-day a consciousness of being in the right, even when they are most in error, which precludes the acceptance of sound advice, although it may be available.
Dr. Jos. Walker maintains, and I think with justice, that, in contemporary Britain, "the community is feminine in its outlook and under the predominant control of women's opinion." (Op. cit. Chap. II). This means that in the home the one member of the family most constantly tempted to forget the future of the child, in order for the moment to win its favour; to make sure (quite mistakenly, by the bye) of retaining its love, and to indulge her own preference for pleasing rather than momentarily thwarting her beloved (for it is far easier and more pleasant to spoil and cosset than to observe consistent, firm and sound principles of training, with an eye persistently kept on the kind of character it is desirable ultimately to mould) this one member of the family, I say, is the mother; and with the feminine dominance which Dr. Walker recognizes as the prevailing note of our society, there is no force, no powerful and authoritative counter-influence, to mitigate the damage her misguided management may cause, especially as any form of consistent training which vigilantly watches for serious deviations, must bring about many clashes and conflicts with the very creature her child whom she is most anxious to shield from unpleasantness. No wonder the self-indulgent and unguided mother of to-day so often fails!
If some may object that as there have always been only mothers to rear the infants of the masses, why should the consequences of the temptations I have enumerated suddenly have become so serious that the victims, prosecutors and judges of delinquent offspring should now be ignoring, not only the teaching of their greatest sages on Education, but also the wisdom of ages in regard to the vital importance of early conditioning, in order to press the lash and the birch once more into the hands of their magistrates, I should reply in the terms of my first article, that all these perplexing and uncivilized phenomena spring from the same fundamental failing: the loss of a complete understanding of what "Education" means.
In my next article, I propose to deal in greater detail with the function of the mother in any civilized programme of training.
- p. 11 -
In Juvenile Courts I have often watched with dismay the mothers who daily file in to inform the magistrate that their adolescent son or daughter, in custody for some misdemeanour, is "quite beyond control."
Usually, these mothers are utterly bewildered by the circumstances that have brought them and their offspring to court. Convinced that they have been the best of parents, always anticipating every wish of their untractable children, always forgiving, and lavishing on them every possible care, they cannot understand why their reward should be to come to a court of law to bear witness against their idols.
Yet, to judge from their manner and appearance, they might all have played the maternal rôle in hundreds of deplorable incidents I have witnessed on the streets and in trains, buses and coaches. One typical example must serve as the pattern of their customary behaviour:
Opposite me, in a railway carriage, is a young woman with a vigorous little boy of four at her side. Suddenly this child struggles to his feet and, turning to the window, solemnly spits on it. His mother reprimands him and tells him to sit down. Making no attempt to sit down, he just glances roguishly round at us, presumably to make sure we are as tame and harmless as his mother. A moment later, he again spits on the window and, with deep interest, watches his saliva slither down the pane. "Now that's very naughty!" his mother exclaims. "I told you to sit down. If you do that again, you won't have an ice when we get to Ipswich!"
Quite unruffled, he surveys us again, smiles quite happily, remains standing and, a moment later, discreetly and quietly, spits on the window again. This time his mother really looks as if she meant business. She lifts him up, drops him violently on the seat and says: "All right then! Now you shan't have that ice!"
Strange to say, he shows not the slightest sign of contrition or even depression at this announcement, but surveys us once more quite happily and begins some fresh mischief, to which, so far, no maternal threat attaches. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note, that all the more stupid adults in the carriage, the older women especially, laugh and smile approvingly at him. For such resilience under the weight of a dark threat is "very funny", and the child notices the reaction of these idiotic adults to his behaviour.
But worse has yet to come; for to follow such a mother, as I have often had occasion to do, is to discover that the very first thing she does on reaching her destination, is to buy her insubordinate son the ice she had said she would withhold.
At home the unfulfilled threat would be a clout or a smack.
Now, it is essential to bear in mind that, although the misdemeanour in the incident related, seems trivial and socially negligible, it acquires a much more sinister aspect when we remember that to the child in question, his mother represents his only social environment. She is his world and the authority, law, order and usage that reign within it. Thus, he naturally grows up under the impression that in actual life punishment and discipline lie always safely round the corner, that forgiveness is always forthcoming, and that nothing prevents him from always having his way and gratifying his every wish at a moment's notice. And, as it is not unfair to claim that the little drama I have described, and all its myriad of variations and permutations, might serve as a pattern of maternal methods in the majority of English homes to-day, we cannot wonder that juvenile delinquency should have become a social problem.
Everywhere, in streets, parks and places of enter-
Far be it from me to hold a brief for Soviet Russia, but, if we accept the testimony of a correspondent in the London TIMES Mr. Martyn Goff the general temper of Russian people and their understanding of what Education demands, seem superior to our own.
"While walking down Gorki St., Moscow, recently," says Mr. Goff, "I saw a small child unwrap a toffee and drop the wrapping on the ground. Immediately, four other pedestrians stopped and pointed to it. The child's mother went to retrieve the paper, but passers-by shook their heads and indicated that the child should pick up the wrapping himself. Solemnly the little boy collected the paper and put it in a litter-vase near by (there is one every 10 yards). At once every one nodded approvingly and smiled." (TIMES, 26.7.58).
Can anyone imagine such a scene being enacted in England to-day?
Mr. Goff goes on to point out what we should do to keep our streets as clean as they are in Moscow; but, unfortunately, he makes no comment on the lesson his experience teaches on discipline. Nevertheless, his letter must have proved strange reading-matter to a nation in which, not only children, but also most adults habitually fling their litter right and left about them, no matter where they may happen to be a nation, indeed, which might be called the Mecca of Litter-Bugs.
But every one of these so-called "Litter-Bugs", remember, like the boy in the train, had a mother who, in the early years had the sole charge of her child's character; so that if ultimately Litter has become a perennial plague in England, it represents only one, and perhaps the least disastrous effect of an upbringing which to-day is wholly lacking in that form of discipline which has for its object the formation of a desirable character.
What then can have come over our modern mothers, to make them so incompetent and even dangerous as framers of their children's future destiny?
In addition to the adverse influences already indicated and, not to mention such infirmities as the excessive Narcissism of modern women, which exaggerates the self-love in their love of their offspring, or the excessive romanticism of the Age, which makes them seek compensation in the worship of their progeny when they can no longer worship or be worshipped by their husbands; certain major factors, too universal and generally accepted to be noticed by the crowd, tend to make of modern mothercraft something inferior.
The first and perhaps the most important of these factors, is the comparatively recent fashion, inaugurated over a century ago by the wholly false Wordsworthian view of children (disclosed in his magnificent but doctrinally erroneous poem: INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY), which, with increasing emphasis, has gradually produced the exorbitant exaltation of "little children", that has marked the six or seven latest decades of European, and chiefly English, history. The harm this blind adulation of children has done to Education is incalculable. Its true nature has been recognized only by the few. As long ago as 1790, Schiller saw it coming and shrewdly analyzed it as a romantic moral enthronement of juvenility as such. What he did not see, however, was that, by its moral elevation of the child, it undermined the adult's confidence in his right to mould its character, for it made the adult appear the child's inferior.
Over a century later, a German psychologist, Dr. Fritz Wittels wrote: "Our present-day excessive pre-occupation with children is rooted in asceticism and is a decadent ideal." (DIE SEXUELLE NOT, 1909, Chap. III). But with this ideal permeating the atmosphere, who can blame ordinary women when, as mothers, their style as trainers is cramped by the absurd notion that their child is their moral superior?
Secondly, there is the absurd belief, current among most mothers, especially in the working class, that discipline is in some way brutal and that it alienates affection. They would but need to read Kipling's CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (which, by-the-bye, no working class women know anything about) to see how unfounded such a belief is. Indeed, if they only looked about them they would learn how invariably, in later life, the spoilt child spurns, if he does not actually dislike, his mother. Over a century ago, Sir Henry Taylor, animadverting on social trends in England, recognized this important fact; for he wrote: "A spoilt child never loves his mother." (NOTES FROM LIFE IN SIX ESSAYS, 1849, p. 123.) But wisdom is much less popular than sophistry. Thus no modern English mother believes that spoiling will alienate her child, and when at last she finds that it has done so, she blames, not herself, but the child whom she declares quite "beyond control".
Finally for I can mention only the major factors operating to pervert mothercraft two further important influences impair the modern mother's educative methods: 1) The total absence nowadays of any precision regarding standards of right and wrong, decent and indecent, noble and ignoble; and, therefore, regarding what end should be envisaged in education. This want of fixed conventions, amounting to a state little short of anarchy, naturally breeds anarchical tendencies in the nation, which increase with every fresh generation reared under modern conditions. To this should be added the lack of leadership that is, of tone-setters in the higher levels of society. For if these former tone-setters now supply any model of civilized life at all, which their social inferiors could emulate, it is usually the reverse of edifying and noble.
2) Finally, there is the obscure and hardly recognized, but very potent factor of interparental jealousy, which, especially in these days of pervasive inferiority feelings, due to the prevalence of physiological defect, becomes, despite all its secrecy, inordinately acute. Thus, there flares up between parents an unconscious, unacknowledged rivalry for the reinforcement which a child's attachment can give to crumbling self-esteem. Each parent outbids the other in favours, in leniency, in toleration and indulgence; each tries to shift on to the other the odium of correction, with the result that the child, especially if an only child, develops into a potentate, commanding every kind of privilege and licence a state of affairs quite incompatible with the building up of a steady self-controlled and civilized character.
Add to all this, the disastrous consequences of misinterpreting the teaching of the NEW PSYCHOLOGY, whereby any kind of check upon a child's conduct is frowned upon as productive of harmful "repressions", and you have a combination of adverse conditions which make the ultimate appearance of a well-trained and properly brought-up child seem something akin to a miracle.
- p. 8 -
Although it should now be fairly obvious that the fundamental cause of our widespread juvenile delinquency is to be found, at least to a very large extent, in the part played by the earliest educator of all the mother; that is, the parent who most continuously presides over the most impressionable and most formative years in every human life, from early infancy to the threshold of adolescence; it is perhaps understandable why, in these days of feminine dominance and high female prestige, either strong reluctance, or else complete blindness should account for the complete silence that reigns concerning the real author of the mischief. It is as if everyone, except the few scientific investigators I have quoted, hesitated to point a finger at the sacrosanct root of the trouble. Least of all are they prepared to do so in the U.S.A., where the mother figure always arouses feelings akin to religious ecstasy.
Yet, as we have seen, if we openly indict mothers, it cannot be without considerable reservations; for the many deleterious influences to which, through no fault of theirs, they are to-day subjected, and the baneful sophistries which we allow them to accept as traditional truisms, go a long way towards mitigating their individual culpability, grave as this may be.
When, however, we consider the loss the nation suffers year after year by the corruption and perversion of its young desirable life, owing to the errors committed by the chief custodians of this life during infancy and early childhood, may we not feel that, even at the cost of outraging the sensibilities of millions, the hour has struck for openly admitting the share of the mothers in causing all this havoc? What is perhaps even more important, ought we not to take immediate steps to improve their quality as educators, and to enlighten them concerning their immense responsibility?
It will be remembered that in my first article in this series, I quoted the opinion of a friend who, having witnessed the trial of three Brighton youths for acts of the grossest brutality, expressed the view that all these lads looked so decent, so comely and respectable, that no one would have put them down, from their appearance, as criminally disposed or congenitally asocial.
This is my experience too. Again and again, in Juvenile Courts, I have been struck by the correct and prepossessing manner and appearance of the young people in custody. As a correspondent to the London TIMES Mr. J. Newman Hooker referring to so-called "young thugs", recently wrote: "We must remember they were allowed by our society to grow up like this." (TIMES, 17.11.59). Precisely! These youths, whose misdeeds often belie their appearance are clearly the product of Education, otherwise they would not look so decent. But how many appreciate this fact? How many are aware of the amount of fundamentally good and precious human material which is annually allowed to go to waste, or worse still, to become a source of positive public danger,
We have argued that to-day, owing to the unlimited licence allowed to women in all classes, there is nothing and no one to oppose either their mistaken methods as mothers, or the many adverse influences which mar the exercise of their maternal arts; and we have shown how these two factors lead to the far too general and persistent spoiling of children. We have also indicated that, far from fostering and cementing filial love, spoiling has the opposite effect and much more frequently generates dislike. This arises probably through the contempt that all unreliability, inconsistency and weakness invariably inspire.
For since it is difficult to love what one cannot admire and respect, the mother who loses her dignity, authority and prestige through persistently showing herself malleable, feeble and untrustworthy, cannot fail to forfeit her offspring's love. What is more, by her untrustworthiness, she also forfeits his confidence. For untrustworthiness remains untrustworthiness, whether displayed in failing to discharge a business obligation or in failing to fulfil a threat.
It is not, therefore, improbable that, because his mother represents to the child, both the only authority he knows, and the incarnation of the society into which later on he will be plunged, he transfers to the society which he enters as an adolescent or an adult, the very same feelings he cherishes for the parent who has spoilt him. If this is so, it would explain the "anti-authority" attitude in juvenile delinquents, to which the headmaster of Carlton Approved School referred in his evidence (see the second article of this series), and their hostility to society.
Another factor that may contribute to the juvenile delinquent's defiance of authority and social order, is the passive rôle he has seen his father play in the family circle a feature of the domestic situation not yet mentioned. Many of the authorities who testified before, or otherwise contributed to, the various inquiries held concerning the cause of criminality in modern youth, have emphasized the part which they thought was played in the genesis of young delinquents by the absence of fathers from the home during the late war.
But this will hardly do; for to stress this aspect of the domestic situation is by implication to ascribe to modern fathers an authority which is far from being found in homes from which fathers have not been removed. When we bear in mind the unchallenged dominance of most mothers in the home, coupled with the gradual loss by both parents of any understanding of the extent to which sound education depends on the educator's good example, firmness and consistency, the part the modern father plays in educating his children in their tender and most impressionable years is so much inferior to the mother's as to be anything but decisive. Add to this the fact that the duration of most working-fathers' presence in the home is in any case limited to only a few hours, and that most of these are spent in sleep, and it will be seen that even when it is likely to be most salutary, the effect of a modern father's rôle as an educator of his young children, and the loss caused by his absence from home in wartime, have been grossly exaggerated, especially by those seeking for a simple, plausible and tactful solution of a thorny problem.
Thus, although the repeated claim by various authorities that the absence of fathers from home in wartime has been instrumental in producing young delinquents among the children that grew up under war conditions, is in itself an indirect but quite unintentional admission of the modern mother's incompetence as an educator, it fails hopelessly to account for the present deplorable condition of modern youth.
The only sense in which the present passive and ineffective rôle of the father in most modern homes may be regarded as contributing to the present-day "anti-authority" and lawless attitude of modern youth, is that, by impressing upon the minds of children in their tender years, the nullity or insignificance of the head of the family as a ruler (which to the young child means the head of the only society he knows), it leads them inevitably to acquire contempt for the powers that be, and thus to encourage them in their attitude of defiance and truculence.
Needless to say, these are points consistently overlooked by all the so-called "authorities" who have expressed their views on the causes of juvenile delinquency; and I suggest that the reason for this omission on their part is their largely unconscious, or socially-conditioned, reluctance to proclaim unpalatable truths, or truths which are in sharp conflict with the prevailing mood of modernity. When I say "socially-conditioned", I mean, brought about by that steady and insensible influence of an accepted convention, which, even when based on error, is so insidious and powerful, that the very people most ready to boast of their objectivity, often fail to appreciate the extent of their subjection to fashion and custom.
Thus, it is now the fashion to accept women's dominance almost as a dispensation of Providence; to regard women as in some obscure way intuitively wise i.e., wise independently of instruction, guidance or sound tradition; and, therefore, that to question this feminine wisdom, which amounts to impeccability, to come out into the open and to indict everyman's "Mother", and demand a thorough overhaul, a long overdue spring-clean, of the nation's concept of motherhood and mothercraft, is almost blasphemy. It is a form of heresy that only the few and the most intrepid dare to profess, least of all are they capable of it who like to stand before the public as respectable, orthodox and "top-drawer".
Except when it is due to complete ignorance, this explains the dead silence both on the part of Officialdom and on that of the more knowledgeable members of the general public, regarding the major cause of juvenile delinquency, whether in England or the U.S.A. It is a silence that amounts to a tacit denial of the supremely vital importance of that stage in the education of all civilized human beings, extending from their early infancy to the threshold of adolescence. In short, it is a proof that Education, as a process for preparing individual characters for civilized social life, is now seriously misunderstood and, what is even more disquieting, misunderstood by the leaders in all departments of the nation's life.
This is not to imply that the next stage in Education that extending from about the seventh or eighth year to the school-leaving age has not also very great importance, or that it cannot mar what has already been achieved during the first stage. But it should be remembered that this second stage, too, is one in which home influences continue to have primary importance. It differs from the first stage only in the fact that, added to the home influences, those of school life now acquire ever-increasing importance.
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In the schools to which the average child is sent when he reaches school age, several influences operate to despoil modern educational institutions of the power to turn out desirable citizens; and some of these influences are of recent origin.
First of all, there is the unfortunate fact that, when an institution becomes so vast that its managers can no longer recruit a personnel of vocational officers sufficiently numerous to run it efficiently i.e., in a manner that fulfils its purpose they are bound either to abandon the enterprise as impracticable, or else to recruit officers who are not all vocational, and thus to fill the gaps in the ranks of their staff with people who are really, though not admittedly, makeshifts, unfit to discharge satisfactorily the duties expected of them.
For the art of successfully educating the youth of the nation, depends as much as any other art on natural gifts of an order at least too high to be common property. Besides erudition, it needs two qualities not nearly as widely distributed and, unlike erudition, not of the sort that can be acquired. These are the power of lucidly and interestingly imparting knowledge, and that psycho-physical constitution which makes a teacher able to win the confidence, sympathy and eager co-operation of his pupils. To be a good teacher, one requires almost certainly to be able also to retain the respect of one's pupils whilst playing all the traits of a good mixer; to show leadership and friendliness without forfeiting firmness.
If this is a fair summary of the gifts of a successful educator, then it is clearly folly to suppose that a nationwide system of education could ever recruit a sufficiently large personnel to make the undertaking worth the necessary expense of time and wealth. Whether free or compulsory, no scheme of universal education can therefore hope to escape foundering on the rocks that almost shattered the mediaeval Church and is likely always to mar any vast undertaking depending on a specially gifted personnel.
In March 1954, for instance, the number of teachers in the schools maintained by local Authorities in England and Wales, was 235,000, 14,138 more than were employed in Jan. 1952. (TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLMT., 12.3.54). Can anyone believe that the population of England and Wales could possibly include so large a body of people having the attributes described, all of whom would select teaching as their profession? When we consider only the results obtained by this army of educators, we may safely infer that the authorities certainly cannot hope to enlist a personnel of such dimensions, all of whom are vocational teachers. In their quandary, therefore, what they do is to eke out the limited supply of such vocational teachers by engaging men and women whose only title to the calling of educator is their academic qualification. To the ordinary inexpert parent, this course seems reasonable enough. As we have seen, however, it is anything but a fool-proof means of recruiting an educational staff.
This alone may not account wholly for the disappointment felt in many quarters over the results achieved by a system which costs the nation something in the region of £600,000,000 a year. But that it is to a great extent responsible, nobody can doubt. At all events, complaints about the illiteracy of school-leavers have been reaching the Authorities for many years, and they have come from
The compilers of the Norwood Report of 1943 stated that "From all quarters, universities, professional bodies, firms and business houses, training colleges and many other interests, we have received strong evidence of the poor quality of the English of Secondary School pupils . . . The evidence is such as to leave no doubt in our minds that we are confronted with a serious failure of the Secondary Schools." (THE IMPORTANCE OF ILLITERACY, by M. M. Lewis, 1953, Chap. III, i).
According to a Survey compiled from the views of manufacturers in Greater London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent (3.2.54), 3 out of every 10 children leaving Secondary Modern Schools in the South East, "are not fit to work out a coal bill, because they cannot find the cost of a ton of coal at 5/- a cwt., or go to the post office for stamps, because they cannot say how many 2 1/2d. stamps can be bought for half a crown."
In a magazine article, we read that "The current reports of secondary-modern-school-leavers who can neither spell nor add and are regarded by employers as 'quite unfit' to begin a course of technical training 'would horrify.'" (THE NINETEENTH CENTURY MAG. April, 1954).
But the facts that made the storm burst with sudden fury were the findings of the examiners, for the General Education Certificate, when they reported on the examinations held in June 1953.
"All eight examiners, independently, reported that a very high proportion (of the examinees) presented the fruits of their study of acknowledged English classics in a written form that was, to a serious degree, illiterate . . . This widespread evidence of ignorance or indifference about the more elementary points of respectable English usage was distressing in itself . . . the debased English which disfigured a very high proportion of the year's scripts is proof of an enormous waste of energy, and is an offence against good taste and any kind of worth." (TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLMT. 5.2.54).
Much more evidence of the same kind could be adduced, but there is no space.
Now, as I hinted in the preamble to this article, it would be unfair to lay the whole of the blame for this widespread illiteracy on the pupils themselves. No doubt, a good deal of it may be accounted for by the steady decline of intelligence in the British Isles a fact I have already called attention to in these columns but much of it must also be due to incompetent teaching. When coaching village children in a friendly way, in various subjects, but more especially in languages, I have often found that the boy or girl I was helping was by no means as unintelligent as his or her lack of proficiency might suggest. On the contrary, after the third or fourth lesson, I have not infrequently been forced to conclude that the fault lay not in the child's brain or capacity to learn, but in the way the subject had been treated by the school teacher. Again and again, I have heard the same complaint namely, that it was impossible to follow the lesson in the classroom, or that some particular rule or principle had never been made sufficiently clear or understandable. And these experiences tended to confirm my suspicions concerning the quality of the teaching in a good many cases.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine how things could be different, and the question suggests itself whether any scheme based on the ideal of a nationwide institution requiring for its functions a specially gifted personnel, could possibly succeed any better than does our existing educational system. When, moreover, we remember that in schools, teaching is always a matter of class-instruction and not of private pupils, so that to the task of teaching, which is difficult enough in all conscience, are added the necessity of being able to command the close attention of a crowd, the need of imposing enough discipline to maintain order, and the vigilance required for detecting backwardness in certain members of the class, and helping such members forward; we have a combination of demands on a school teacher, which make his task much more complex than that of the private tutor or coach.
That thousands of school-teachers, even with the best intentions, inevitably fail, cannot therefore surprise us; and as, on the whole, their erudition constitutes in practice but one single factor in their manifold equipment, the policy of selecting male and female educators on the score of their academic qualifications alone, is immediately seen to be mistaken.
In my own school, I remember that I acquired a much better knowledge of mathematics, and did so much more easily, whilst I was being taught by my own form master, who although by no means an expert mathematician was a gifted imparter of knowledge, than I ever learnt subsequently in the class-room of the head mathematician, a B.Sc. London, who, in his subject, could have wiped the floor with my form master. Many people must have had the same experience, and it all goes to show that Education, like many other precious privileges, cannot be popularized without shedding most of the virtues that make it valuable. Is this perhaps what George Santayana meant when he said of Culture, "If profound and noble, it must remain rare; if common, it must become mean"?
Be this as it may, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the ruinous cost of modern Education yields results which are little short of contemptible; and it is to be feared that this will remain so as long as competence in the task of imparting knowledge remains an art.
So much for that aspect of Education which consists in the communication of mere factual knowledge. In my next article, I shall consider Education in its more important rôle as a moulder and builder of character.
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Locke, Kant, Herbart and Spencer, long ago did away with the idea that Education is a process of merely imparting factual knowledge. "You will wonder, perhaps," said Locke, "that I put learning last, especially if I tell you I think it the least part." (THOUGHTS CONCERNING EDUCATION, 1693, Sectn. 147). All four philosophers quite properly declared the formation of character to be the principal aim of Education.
It is all the more necessary to emphasize this point, seeing that it is really only a polite modern fiction to dignify by the term "Education" the paltry amount of knowledge which the schools impart to the vast majority of the population. For, on leaving school, the young people composing this vast majority, usually know little more than the "three R's", and often not even that. What they have learnt of history, geography, English, European and English classical literature, and perhaps French, is forgotten within a few months of their fifteenth birthday. But even if their factual knowledge were more abundant, it would still be true to say that the formation of character should be the principal aim of Education. In other words, every society should conceive Education, as Spencer observed, as the preparation of young people for their rôle as good members of the community. (EDUCATION, 1861, Chap. I). To this end, the formation of character is the first pre-requisite.
From Kant to Freud, every profound and dispassionate thinker has acknowledged the validity of this principle. Just as Kant, for instance, over 150 years ago, maintained that unless a child is accustomed throughout its growth "to submit to the dictates of reason", it will "retain throughout its life a certain wildness and savagery" ("ein gewisse Wildheit": UEBER PADAGOGIK, Dr. Willmann's Editn, p. 62); so Spencer argued that: "We are not among those who believe in Lord Palmerston's dogma that 'all children are born good'", and in a later chapter he adds: "as the child's features resemble for a time those of the savage, so, too, do his instincts." (Op. cit. pp. 96 and 121122).
Freud wholly confirmed these views and claimed that, because the child is, from the first, prompted only by the "Pleasure Principle" and has no native impulse to deviate from its dictates, it can acquire a civilized character only
As recently as 1903, for instance, George Bernard Shaw stupidly remarked that "The vilest abortionist is he who attempts to mould a child's character". (MAN AND SUPERMAN, Maxims for Revolutionists). It is true that in this matter he was supported by all those wiseacres, both professional psychologists and teachers, and ordinary parents, who, misunderstanding Freud's doctrine regarding repression, assumed that the only safe way to handle children was to let them do just exactly what they liked a policy very properly condemned by authorities such as Aichorn, Susan Isaacs, C. W. Valentine and Anna Freud, and derided in fiction by writers like Dorothy E. Stevenson (see, for instance her novels: AMBERWELL and SUMMERHILLS).
But, most unfortunately, Bernard Shaw, unlike the deluded students of the New Psychology, passed as a sage among thousands of his more shallow contemporaries; and the consequence was that his silly dictum, together with the popular misunderstandings of the New Psychology, led many parents astray. It is to these two influences, among others, that I alluded in the third and fourth articles of this series, when I enumerated the adverse factors which combine to mitigate the culpability of modern mothers in consistently spoiling their children.
It may be objected that Shaw's absurd dictum, like the misunderstanding of Freud's teaching about repression, could hardly have affected the behaviour of working-class mothers, because such mothers know little about Shaw and less about Freud. But although this is undoubtedly true, it does not alter the fact that, in the educational and psychological climate of 20th-century England, both of the influences mentioned, by infecting those people who happen to come into contact with working-class mothers and are in a position to advise and inform them, are eventually passed downwards through the social strata, and thus add to the many influences, already described, which conspire to make ignorant women unwise parents.
An example of the way in which this transmission of error may be effected, was demonstrated to me only the other day by an exceptionally competent and well-informed female Secondary School teacher. Apparently she is a very good diciplinarian and contrives always to keep her young scholars in that state of good order and calm attention most favourable for instruction. Now, on one occasion, when her school was being inspected, a more than usually benighted member of H.M. Inspectors of Schools, on entering her classroom appeared to notice with pained surprise the peace and serenity that prevailed; and, turning to her, observed in tones of marked disapproval, as if he strongly suspected her of Belsen tendencies: "The children are unusually quiet aren't they?"
She was forced to infer that because there had been no Babel of voices and other distracting noises in her classroom, he had suspected her of "repressing" her young charges and of cowing them into resentful muteness and immobility. She certainly suffered no untoward consequences from the unfavourable report she felt sure this Inspector had sent in; but this was only because her outstanding qualities as a teacher were well-known by her immediate superiors. Be this as it may, it makes one wonder whether H.M. Inspectors of Schools should not be psycho-analyzed before being appointed, if only to determine whether they might not be afflicted with some neurosis causing them to confuse good order and discipline with the sadistic imposition of arbitrary restraints.
But there are other and even more impressive channels through which the same Shavian view of education, in the sense of character-training, ultimately percolates downwards through the social strata of modern England. For, in some of the recent text-books on Education, the Maxim for Revolutionists I have quoted, is at least equalled. In MODERN EDUCATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN (1938), for instance, by Nancy Catty, M.A., who echoes, not only Lord Palmerston, but also Wordsworth, we read: "(1) A school is only free when teachers believe (a) that children are essentially good and happy people, and (b) that to acquire learning or skill is an interesting experience; and (2) when the children are learning in their own way and at their own rate." (Summary of Conclusions).
Mr. L. Jacks, Director of the Department of Education at Oxford Univ., writing on CHILD PSYCHOLOGY (1952, Chap. VII), says: "One of the most important things that this study has taught us is, that the best way to educate a child may well be to leave him free to educate himself." And, in Chap. VIII he adds, "For children at school, emancipation is the order of the day emancipation from the control of the teacher, from the compelling effects of his instruction and the domination of his mind, from the restraints of rules and the limitations imposed by discipline, from the tiresome inhibitions inspired by ideals of industry and accuracy, from everything which threatens to stand in the way of self-expression and a free spontaneous growth of personality."
Bernard Shaw à outrance! For what do we mean by a child left free to express himself, and by the domination of the teacher's mind? It all depends what the child is like, and what the teacher is like also. Such sentiments restate the Palmerston heresy. They imply that nothing but good can come of self-expression in the child, and nothing but harm from a teacher's domination. Incidentally, too, they deny the need of replacing the Pleasure, by the Reality, Principle, as a motive for conduct.
If such ideas are paramount in our educational system, or even if they hold sway merely sporadically, it means that the chance schools enjoy of correcting to some extent the effects of bad home training, is hopelessly forfeited.
How much more sane and commendable is Professor C. D. Hardie's conclusion in TRUTH AND FALLACY IN EDUCATIONAL THEORY (1942, Chap. on "Education is not like Plant-growing according to Nature") where he says he cannot agree with the view that education consists in placing the child "in the attitude of a discoverer, that is, should be left to find things out for himself, instead of accepting results on the authority of the teacher." "It certainly seems to me", he adds, "that education would be quite impossible unless it (i.e., "accepting results on the authority of the teacher") is done."
The subject will be continued in my next article.
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In an exceptionally enlightened treatise on Education issued by the Cheshire Educational Committee in 1958, we read that "The teacher's prime function is that of the positive training of character: only secondly is he the teacher of a particular subject." (THE SECONDARY MODERN SCHOOL, Chap. I, 10). As I hinted in my last article, this shows that although sporadically, owing to false indoctrination, many schools to-day forfeit their chance of correcting to some extent unfavourable home-training, some educational authorities are aware of the principal object of education.
What is more, this same Committee, repeatedly emphasizes the tremendous force exerted by imitation in the education of the young (See particularly Chaps. I, 14, and V. 21); whilst they also remind us of the immense importance of "the personality of the teacher," which they say is "paramount". (Chap. II, 5, BIV).
To those who have thought on education and observed the decisive role imitation plays in the forming of children's characters, such statements will present no novelty. Nevertheless, it is extraordinary how often the function of children's imitative faculty is overlooked in their upbringing. If it were not so generally disregarded, how account for the far too frequent neglect by parents of the factor "Example" in the upbringing of their children, and the prevalent neglect by educational authorities of what the Cheshire Committee stressed as so important "the personality of the teacher?"
Early in the 16th Century, Erasmus showed himself well aware of this factor in education. "Nature," he said, "has made the first years of our life prone to imitation, and with imitativeness she has given also tenacity in retention." Furthermore, he maintained that "Nature has planted in the youngest child an ape-like instinct of imitation"; and declared "It is instinctive with children to imitate as it is easy for them to remember." (DE PUERIS STATIM AC LIBERALITER INSTITUENDIS, 495B496A, 500A501A, 501C502E).
Rousseau, in his ÉMILE, echoed this veiw. "Il faut," he said, "bien faire imiter aux enfants les actes dont on veut leur donner l'habitude," and addressing teachers, he exclaimed, "que vos exemples se gravent dans la mémoire de vos élèves!" (Livre II: "Let children imitate the behaviour of which you desire them to acquire the habit . . . May your example be graven into the memories of your pupils"). Vives (Op. cit. Bk. I Chap. I, and Bk. II, Chap. XI) whom I have already quoted, and Locke (Op. cit. Sectns. 67 and 83) also recognized the supreme importance to the child of its imitative faculty in acquiring civilized behaviour; whilst, more recently, Frank Howard Richardson has stated that imitation is "the most potent influence in child culture." (PARENTHOOD AND THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY, 1926, p. 77). Surprisingly enough, despite his many howlers in Child Psychology, Wordsworth, too, held this standpoint; for, in the very same poem whose main doctrine was censured in Article IV of this series, he wrote of the child's proneness to mimicry:
"As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation."
Yet, although these facts are familiar to most people, how few appreciate their necessary implications! How many parents spare their offspring the inevitable and often disastrous consequences of a bad example? How many educational authorities are conscious of their duty to present growing children with good models in the persons of their teachers? For, as the Cheshire Committee very properly observe, "The personality of the teacher is of paramount importance." Their concern about this matter shows that they are aware of both the imitative
But, like Carlyle's and Luther's belief in the need of a personable appearance in a parson if he is to function effectively as a spiritual leader, so this insistence on the importance of a teacher's personality, only ends in setting still further limits to the supply of a suitably gifted educational personnel. For if in addition to the other necessary attributes enumerated in Article VI of this series, a teacher, in order to be fit for his function, has also to have a desirable personality, the chances of organizing a system of education on a national scale become more hopeless than ever.
We agree of course at once, and think the Cheshire Committee, and incidentally Carlyle and Luther, are quite right; for it should be obvious enough that when once we acknowledge the importance of imitation as a factor in education, we are forced to conclude that the personality of a teacher should be such that the imitation of his manners, temper, habitual behaviour and general character, should prove to the advantage rather than to the injury of his pupils. But who would be so bold as to claim that in an organization as vast as the British Educational System, now employing 270,000 teachers, it can be possible to present the 6,600,000 pupils of the present school population with teachers possessed of the personality that can be safely and profitably imitated?
We know that it is out of the question, and we have but to visit any Private, Primary, Secondary or Grammar School, in order to satisfy ourselves once again that the ideal is unrealizable. It is true that the major part of education, qua character-formation, is effected at home; for the average child spends no more than an eighth of his life at school; the other seven-eighths in his home. "If", therefore, says Mr. G. A. N. Lowndes, "the parents are feckless, over-indulgent, prepared to accept low standards of morals or manners, slovenly in their speech, more concerned to excuse a lie than condemn it, constantly exposing the child to insecurity or causing him to witness disloyalty or bickering in the home circle, they are expecting a miracle if they imagine that the school can successfully counteract such influences." (THE BRITISH EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, 1955, Chap. IV).
The description of English children in Marie Paneth's BRANCH STREET (1944), and particularly of the parents of evacuees during the War of Polish Independence, by authors of OUR TOWNS (1943), show how vain is the hope that the influence of school life, even if all teachers were ideally endowed, could possibly avail against the persistence, year in, year out, of a bad example and defective control at home.
In her hair-raising account of a gang of London children, for instance, Marie Paneth (p. 58) says: "They have come against so many promises which were not kept, so many words given which were afterwards broken, so much insincere talk, that they are cynical to the core."
Exactly! And she makes no mention of the shocking manners, dirty habits and undisciplined behaviour of parents, all of which are fully described in OUR TOWNS (Produced by the Women's Group on Public Welfare).
No one apprised of these facts can entertain very high hopes of any improvement in the character of young people through the action of the schools. I have not yet dealt with all the adverse factors operating to defeat this part of their effort; for I have still to discuss certain features of their work which suggest both a neglect of the imitative faculty in children, and a failure to recognize the danger of presenting young people with undesirable or unsuitable models in the persons of their teachers.
But in partial mitigation of the blame attaching to the schools for failing adequately to mould the characters of their young charges, we should remember, not only what has already been said concerning the inevitable difficulties inherent in the organization of a scheme as vast as the British Educational System, but also some comparatively recent changes in the attitude of the general public towards school-teachers as a whole.
Until about the turn of the century, parents of all classes understood that, if order and discipline are to be maintained, a certain latitude must be granted to teachers for the administration of light corporal punishment in all cases of gross insubordination, impudence, sloth and recidivism in falsehood, unpunctuality and dirtiness. And, with few exceptions, the arrangement worked admirably. At all events, if a few "hard cases" came to light, it was folly to use them as grounds for the passing of "bad laws."
With the increasing domination of the home and society by women, however, this rational state of affairs was soon drastically altered to the disadvantage of all concerned. The steady softening of the national fibre, which spread to all classes as feminism progressed, led parents, especially in the sentimental working classes, to take upon themselves to regulate and control the way in which order and obedience should be maintained in school; and although they were absentees from the scene and ignorant of the problems of classroom instruction, to intervene in force and by force if any precious child of theirs complained of rough handling, however trifling. Relying solely on the onesided and uncorroborated evidence of a son or daughter, the two parents would sally forth, demand to see the teacher concerned, and then, before the unfortunate creature could explain, would give him or her violent and often maiming blows.
A friend of mine who teaches in Nottingham Mr. J. S. Neale had his jaw broken in this way. Scores of such cases have been reported, and if they tend to grow fewer, it is less because school-children's behaviour is improving than because the risks of violent retalliation incurred by teachers yielding after the most exasperating provocation, to the temptation to strike a pupil, are now so terrifying that it is simpler to let hooligans and young ruffians flourish than to try to correct them.
A typical case which vividly illustrates the conditions I have described, occurred not many years ago in Bristol. A father, Arthur Hazell, burst into Mr. Austin Bingley's classroom while he was teaching at Connaught Rd. Secondary Modern School, Bristol, and savagely attacked him. The teacher was thrown over a desk and repeatedly punched, with the result that he had two teeth knocked out and an ear drum affected.
The reason? His son, a mother's precious boy, "had been caned for shooting paper pellets through a classroom keyhole."
When we reflect that this act of stupid violence was done before a classroom of 40 boys, all "most impressionable," we can guage the recklessness of the ass, Hazell, and his cynical disregard of the damaging effect of his display on his son and the rest of the boys who witnessed it. (DAILY MAIL, 12.3.55).
But what is even more disquieting is the fact that the spirit animating this senseless parent, may be regarded as more or less universal among the adult population of modern England.
Can one wonder that anarchy is now rampant among young people in Great Britain?
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In his Pastoral Letter, read in churches on Nov. 29th, 1959, Cardinal Godfrey, Archbishop of Westminster, made remarks which might well have been intended as an addendum to my last article. Speaking of the increase in crime, he said:
"The comparatively lenient methods adopted in recent times have been generally unavailing. The evil has not been halted: crime grows apace. A start should be made with the family. Parents should be kind yet strict with their children and should not hesitate to punish them when occasion demands. Nor should they too easily accept the complaints against school discipline by taking sides with their children against teachers." (EAST ANGLICAN DAILY TIMES, 30.11.59).
Truth to tell, the prevailing lawlessness is not confined to juvenile delinquency; for the people who were adolescents only yesterday, are to-day displaying in adult misdemeanours the licence allowed them as children. We read not only of youths (as in Roc Ferry for instance) cutting off the legs of a kitten, one by one, by putting it under trains; thrusting lighted fireworks into the pockets of passers-by; bedaubing private houses with paint, and being generally destructive, violent and aggressive, but also of adult lapses often more serious because of the greater responsibilities involved.
Everywhere, in fact, we sense disorder, insecurity and risk, owing to the growing unreliability of the national character; and the anarchy that results is altering the whole manner of life in England. A trivial instance, is the case of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace. On the 17th of Oct. 1959, this guard, which all my life, and the lives of many before me, had been posted outside the railings, had to be withdrawn behind the railings "to relieve it from the attentions of ill-mannered tourists and jeering small boys." (DAILY MAIL, 17.10.59). Yet, the very day on which they were withdrawn behind the railings at Buckingham Palace, I happened to be standing at the Horse Guards in Whitehall, and watched a couple of parents look on complacently and quite unconcernedly whilst their son, a boy of about eleven, tried his hardest to disconcert one of the mounted Lifeguards by interfering with his horse's head.
When we consider that this stupidly defective discipline extends even to the dogs owned by most people to-day, we require but little imagination to foresee the complete
Lord Lucas of Chilworth revealed in the Lords on Nov. 25th, 1959, that in 1958 three times as many people were killed or injured on the roads in accidents caused by stray dogs than in those caused by drunken drivers. "Of the 2,731 accidents due to stray dogs, 2,213 were caused to cyclists, moped, motor-cycle, and scooter riders." Viscount Goschen thought that only a small percentage of people required to be taught how properly to control their dogs; but Lord Somers strongly demurred, and I wholly agree with him. (See TIMES, 26.11.59).
It is bad enough to find our Public Libraries to-day full of books that have been deliberately defaced or mutilated; that it is not uncommon to see whole pages torn out of encyclopaedias, dictionaries of quotations and railway guides; or to discover, on entering a railway carriage, that the upholstering has been recently ripped open. But a far more disquieting feature of the present lawlessness and irresponsibility is the state of the roads with the increasing toll of deaths and injuries due too often to a complete disregard of rules and regulations plainly stated in the Highway Code. Every owner-driver must know that one cannot now travel ten miles in a car without witnessing at least as many grave breaches of the rules laid down in this Code. On Nov. 30th, Mr. Marples, Minister of Transport, "lashed out at the lunatic driver." He expressed himself appalled by the road accident figures, which in October were "17 per cent. up on the same month last year." There were 655 deaths (an increase of 67), and killed and injured totalled 31,218, an increase of 4,497.
"Last year," he said, "22,000 accidents were caused by carelessness at junctions, 20,000 by careless right turns, 14,000 by speed and 12,000 by wandering concentration." (DAILY MAIL, 1.12.59).
Anyone who imagines that there is no connection between these facts and the rising tide of anarchy and licence in England, has failed to grasp the fundamental cause of the trouble. Even the railways reflect the same conditions, and on Nov. 24th the Press informed us that "Human failure is a rising cause in deaths on British Railways." This was admitted by Brigadier C. A. Langley, Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways, in his annual report to the Minister of Transport.
"Fourteen of the eighteen passengers killed in train crashes in 1958 died because drivers in two instances passed signals at danger. Train crews caused 315 accidents in 1958, compared with 310 in 1957 and were 22 per cent. higher than the 19511952 average of 262."
Tables in the Brigadier's report show that 52.5 per cent. of the year's train accidents could be attributed to human failure, compared with 47.7 per cent. for 1951'52." And Brigadier Langley added that "the trend suggests that the accidents from this cause is still rising." (DAILY MAIL, 24.11.59).
Apparently, the problem of human error is being investigated by the British Transport Commission with advice from a specially appointed Medical Research Council Committee. But why this crowbar to swat a fly, when it must be obvious to the most casual observer of present-day life in England, that what is causing all this unreliability, irresponsibility, lawlessness and anarchy in the nation is that, for the last three-quarters of a century and with increasing intensity, generation after generation of men and women have been allowed to grow up without a trace of wise and consistent discipline? Did not Dr. J. V. Walker, in 1951, speaking of discipline, say of our English world that it is "a society that hardly understands the word"? (HEALTH AND THE CITIZEN, Chap. 10). And who could prove him wrong?
I make no idle boast when I say that at least thirty years ago, when I was growing painfully aware of the increasing anarchy, disorder and confusion in the Western World, I told my family circle that we must expect an era of great danger in all the public services and activities depending on accuracy, application, concentration and care in fact in all those departments of modern life, whose safety can only be secured by operators of well-disciplined character.
Indeed, in view of the unbridled pursuit of the Pleasure Principle, which for two or three generations now has been allowed to govern the lives of most human beings, to have prophesied any other sort of outcome would have been tantamount to staking on a miracle. Those who, like George Bernard Shaw and other Leftists, including above all the Feminists, expected any other consummation, must have been entirely wanting in any understanding of what constitutes a sound education.
Owing to the unending multiplication of mechanical contrivances, on the safe functioning of which public security depends, this is an age in which the character-formation of the population could hardly have been too carefully planned or too strictly controlled to turn out sound, conscientious and responsible men and women, rigorously conditioned by the Reality Principle.
In short, it might be claimed that, whereas up to the year 1800, say, some laxity in character formation might quite safely have been permitted and practised, never has the converse policy been more desperately needed than it is to-day.
Yet, to be fair to the people of the past, I think we must admit that smaller though their need for a sound national character was, they produced it with far greater success than we are able to do in these days of Feminism and the adulation of immaturity. As we have seen, it is by no means only in juvenile delinquency that our faulty educational system is revealed, and although the high incidence of crime, general lawlessness and unreliability in the older age-groups may mask the real root of the trouble and lead many to assume that harsher treatment of adult offenders may be the solution, what J. H. Bagot, in his valuable monograph JUVENILE DELINQUENCY (1941, p. 13) says, remains incontrovertible: that "Most confirmed criminals begin their careers in childhood."
"Any measure," he adds, "which could be devised to strengthen parental control generally would effectively reduce the number of children appearing in court." (p. 60). And I would add: just as it would reduce the number of our road and railway casualties and all the other evidences of lawlessness in every department of our present life.
Can, therefore, Robert T. Lewis possibly have been right when he maintained that "the hand that rocks the cradle can wreck the world"? (ROMULUS, 1924, p. 21) I think he was abundantly right; and when that hand has done its utmost by faulty child-management to wreck the world, the schools, even under ideal teachers, can do little to repair the damage.
I have adduced some of the reasons why this is so; and, in my next article, I propose to submit further reasons why our present-day schools cannot be expected to rectify the character of a child or adolescent, which from the start has been warped and perverted.
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At the risk of unduly multiplying my witnesses, this article may well be opened with an impressive passage from the work of one of our greatest authorities on Juvenile Crime. Writing on this matter, Dr. Cyril Burt has maintained that, "Of all the environmental conditions, indeed of all the conditions whatever, that find a place in my list of causes, the group showing the closest connection with crime consists of those that may be summed up under the head of defective discipline." (THE YOUNG DELINQUENT, 1944, p. 96.)
J. H. Bagot, concurring, 'emphasizes the "want of calm and consistent discipline" as the cause of youthful crime, and informs us that already in 1934, "the proportion of recidivists in crime, whose discipline was defective, was 78 per cent." (JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, 1941, p. 77).
As has been shown in previous articles in this series, when once the habit of undisciplined behaviour has been acquired at home, the Schools especially the Primary and Secondary Modern are given an impossible task when they are expected to mend characters that have been warped from the start, especially owing to the fact that, as we have seen, they have anything but a free hand.
It is notorious that the private and independent Schools, to which the well-to-do send their sons and daughters, succeed much better in this respect and are much more free than the Primary and Secondary Modern Schools to perform valuable feats of salvation with pupils whose home upbringing has been faulty. For there is abundant evidence to the effect that the mothers of the so-called "Upper" (i.e. "moneyed") classes to-day, are no whit better than their financial inferiors in the matter of child-discipline. If, therefore, as Kant found in Germany some hundred and seventy years ago, "the children of working- and lower-middle-class mothers are more badly brought up (mehr verzogen) than the children of the so-called 'Gentry'," (UEBER PADOGOGIK, Prof. Willmann's Edit. p. 78), it is because the teaching and administrative staffs in Independent Schools brook no intereference from parents in their methods of imposing discipline.
We never hear nowadays, nor do I believe we ever have heard, of an irate father, egged on by his infuriated wife, bursting in to the classroom of an Independent School and smashing the jaw of the teacher, because their precious son had been caned the day before. And this complete immunity from possible savage attacks by sentimental working- and lower-middle-class parents, naturally gives the Independent Schools a much freer hand.
This is not to say that these Schools always succeed in breaking in boys and girls who at home have acquired vicious habits of insubordination, self-indulgence and the unbridled pursuit of the Pleasure Principle. For we have only to read our newspapers in order to know that this is not the case. But the fact that they enjoy much greater freedom than the other schools in applying remedial measures where gross parental mismanagement has wrought havoc with a child's character, is unquestionable.
I have also called attention to what is perhaps the most disquieting feature of the present state of affairs, which is that the juveniles who ultimately drift into" crime, are by no means necessarily the worst elements in the population, either mentally or physically. Indeed, as Dr. Lucien Bovet asserted in 1951, "A large proportion of children and adolescents appearing before the Courts have no major physical or psychological abnormality." (PSYCHIATRIC ASPECTS OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, Summary and Conclusions, 2, i). So that when these juveniles turn to lawlessness, they constitute in their deteriorated condition, a grave substantial loss to the nation. They are often excellent material that has been allowed to go to waste.
Nevertheless, bad as such cases are, there can be no possible excuse for missing or endangering our chances of salvaging them. Yet, it must be admitted that present methods, as also teaching staffs, in both Primary and Secondary Modern Schools, too often increase, instead of correcting, the character deterioration started at home.
As I hinted in a previous article, besides the inadequate attention paid to character-formation in the schools, and the inordinate emphasis on imparting factual knowledge, there is a tendency constantly to neglect the effect of the imitative faculty in children and to discount its powerful rôle in determining behaviour. The consequence is that the Authorities are inclined to be much too uncritical of the models they set before the children in the form of teachers. We have examined some of the circumstances which now compel them to exercise less discrimination than ideal educational exigencies demand; but, as we shall see in a moment, there are still many lapses on their part in this respect, which are not dictated by necessity.
It may be objected that, in many cases, the parents themselves have forestalled the schools in placing deplorable models before their children. This is of course true; but this is unfortunately the wretched fate of the children concerned and we can do little about it; whereas in the personalities of the teachers we have a factor that provides an opportunity for critical selection, which, although limited, could be seized much more often than it actually is.
Appreciating the importance of imitation and example in education, Dr. Meyrick Booth, for instance, insisted on the qualification "Mature Maleness" for teachers of boys (YOUTH AND SEX, 1932). But, although this stipulation omits many of the attributes already enumerated as essential in a good teacher, it is one which, as things are to-day, cannot be too easily complied with. So that in this matter alone, and at the very outset of our inquiry, we meet with a check, and our hopes of adequately equipping our unwieldy educational system have to be modified accordingly. Kant maintained that even the Will is developed and exercized in children through imitation (Op. cit., pp. 69, 86, 95); and for this reason alone we may well question the wisdom of allowing boys, even in the Primary Schools, to be taught by women. For, however learned, well-mannered and charming she may be, how can a woman serve as a suitable model for young males? Probably for this reason, Erasmus, who
In ancient Sparta, boys at the age of seven left the company and tutelage of women entirely, in order to come wholly under the influence and supervision of men; and here again the intention was probably as much to give them fitting models for imitation as to train them in masculine arts and skills.
Regarded from this point of view, Co-educational Schools are to be deprecated; and in Chap. VIII of Dr. Meyrick Booth's YOUTH AND SEX, cogent reasons are advanced in support of this attitude. The Co-educational Schools of America, where feminine domination and the very prevalent teaching of boys by women have certainly become a notorious source of all kinds of mischief (including staggering increases year by year in Juvenile Delinquency), provide no very convincing argument in favour of the system, and to the extent to which such schools place the wrong models before the children of both sexes (female teachers for boys and male teachers for girls), they are most unlikely to turn out adolescents and young adults with desirable characters, who are equipped to play a normal or even a decent rôle in society. In his book, ENGLAND CONQUERS THE WORLD (1937, Chap. II), Norwood Young remarks, probably quite truly, that "American lawlessness begins in the nursery." As at present constituted, American schools are hardly likely to correct these early evil influences. For it is not merely that boys are presented with the wrong model in emotional and temperamental reactions, and in psycho-physical behaviour in general, when they are being taught by a school-mistress; but also that they are subjected to a form of discipline not emanating from that intuitive insight into their native impulses and motivations, which a teacher of their own sex, without effort or strain, instinctively commands. They thus, insensibly, become imbued with values, attitudes, prepossessions and reasonings foreign to their nature, and run the risk of continuing to identify the society, into which they will subsequently enter, with their mother-figure, now extended by the mother-substitute their schoolmistress.
In my next article I shall describe the conditions in the British Educational System which illustrate the erroneous policies discussed in this article.
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In her book, MALE AND FEMALE (1949, Part IV, Chap. XVIII), Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, vehemently inveighs against the practice of employing female teachers for boys. She maintains that "men have been largely driven from teaching in the United States" and declares that Education "has lost much if not more than it has gained as men departed not only from the primary grades . . . but from the higher grades, where boys have suffered because taught by women." Long before this, Miss Cowdray, an English school-teacher and Principal of the Crouch End High School, had already condemned the policy of employing women teachers for boys, and was consequently opposed to co-educational schools. (See WASTED WOMANHOOD, 1933).
Now, either through dire necessity, or indifference to the need of providing for the imitative faculty in children and its function in education, the British Educational System tolerates women teachers in boys schools and boys classes to a much greater extent than would seem wise. The part necessity plays in determining this policy may be seen when the totals of male and female teachers actually available are compared.
In 1957, for instance, the Ministry of Education reported that, in 1956, out of a total of 254,800 teachers in England and Wales, 159,100 were women and 95,700 were men i.e., a female majority of 63,000. In the 1958 Report, out of a total of 287,447 teachers, 174,292 were women and 113,155 were men i.e., a female majority of 61,137.
These female majorities show the difficulty the Authorities must have in staffing the schools, and probably account for the employment of at least some of the women in boys' schools and classes. For the deficiency of men teachers and the fact that the sex ratio of the teachers is conspicuously different from that of the child population, make no other solution possible. In 1958, for instance, when women teachers outnumbered the men by roughly 21 1/3% of the total of teachers the number of boys and girls in the population was almost equal (5,290,000 boys and 5,043,000 girls between 5 and 14 years of age;
The figures arouse the suspicion that the reckless and shortsighted clamour by the Feminists for "Equal Pay" has so closely approximated the remuneration of men and women teachers that whereas it strongly attracts the women who, in the ordinary way, are not potential bread-winners for a family, it has ceased to attract the men who, if they wish to lead a normal life, are bound to become such bread-winners.
Nevertheless, even after allowing for all these difficulties, the extent to which, in England and Wales, boys are now taught by women, indicates that much indifference must prevail regarding the potent effect on character-formation of the imitative faculty in children not to mention other mischievous consequences of women-teachers for boys. For, though we confine our attention only to the part played by the clamour for "Equal Pay" in causing the excess of women teachers, it is surely significant that when this clamour was at its height, no one raised the fundamental objection to the innovation, which was that it would inevitably lead to the staffing of many boys' schools with women. Evidently, then, this was either not foreseen, or it was regarded as neither deplorable nor ominous. In either case, it indicated that there is too little awareness among the public and the Authorities of the undesirability of women teachers for boys. On the contrary, it is now customary, if not de rigueur, to demand legislative action if women are found to be absent from any department whatsoever of the nation's life.
Thus, the statistics of the Educational System suggest that the present conditions lead at least to one situation which must contribute some share, however small compared with home influences, to the production of lawless and unbalanced children, if not always to juvenile delinquents; and this share comes in part from the policy of appointing women-teachers for boys' classes. As we have seen, it is by no means the only flaw in the system, which arises from the failure to provide for the imitative faculty of young people in the most impressionable years of their life; but it is a prominent one. For, as Margaret Mead has observed, "boys suffer when taught by women." And if we ask how they suffer, the answer is, in character development, owing to the loss of that correction to homebred faults, which good schooling might give them. Incidentally, this suggests yet another advantage enjoyed by the independent schools especially our more famous Public Schools and Private Preparatory Schools, from which Public Schoolboys are mostly recruited for in these schools the tuition is always in the hands of male teachers.
To what extent, then, are boys at present being taught by women in the Preparatory, Secondary Modern, and Grammar Schools? For it is important to remember that boys remain at Primary Schools until they are eleven i.e., four years later than the ancient Greeks thought it advisable to place them wholly under male influence, and six years later than Erasmus said they should be taken from the care of their mothers.
According to the latest returns, mistresses teaching in boys' schools and classes, number:
In Primary Schools, 889;
In Secondary Modern, 160;
In Bi- and Multi-lateral, Comprehensive and Other Secondary Schools, 19.
If, therefore, we allow 34.6 boys per class-room in Primary; 25.4 in Secondary Modern, and 17.8 in Grammar Technical and other Schools (which are the averages at least for Ipswich), we obtain a total of 44,241 boys now being taught by women a total which, however, does not cover the co-educational schools, where most classes are taught for part of the time by men and part of the time by women. Moreover, in Mixed Primary and Secondary Schools, for junior pupils and pupils of all ages, a total of 32,000 women are now teaching (as compared with 20,833 men), so that the total of boys now receiving tuition either wholly or partially from women teachers, must exceed by scores of thousands the figure I have given above.
These are disquieting facts, and when, in addition, we bear in mind that the Authorities are unable to exercise much discrimination when passing male recruits into the service, and cannot afford to exclude personalities which under more favourable circumstances they might reject as unsuitable models to be set before children for imitation, it will be seen that our present Educational System cannot help falling far short of contributing all that it might contribute to the work of forming the character of its pupils.
It would be unfair to ascribe all of the present lack of discipline and sense of responsibility, not to mention the lawlessness, in the nation, to the conditions in the schools; for as I have already pointed out, young people spend only about one eighth of their lives at school, and the rest of the time either at home or in the streets or playgrounds in the company of their friends. Besides, we have seen that the Primary and Secondary Schools, at least, no longer have a free hand. The sentimental Liberal influence, which has invaded every department of the national life (including even its colonial policies, as Lord Kinross abundantly shows in his book, THE LORDS OF THE EQUATOR, 1938), has so crippled the school-teacher as a disciplinarian in the schools in question, that what little influence they might exert in forming the character of children, correcting the errors of home management, and training them to be guided more by the Reality than by the Pleasure Principle, is defeated by the restrictions that the Authorities, and even more the general public, impose on their methods.
How much longer, whether at home or abroad, this "sentimental Liberal" attitude, as Lord Kinross describes it, will continue to cramp the style of educators in the character-training of young people, it is impossible to judge, especially as its duration will probably be contingent on the persistence of feminine dominance. But we may now confidently prophesy that unless it does not soon make way for more sensible, realistic and sterner methods, we can only expect lawlessness, crime and irresponsibility to prevail in every department of the national life.
Writing about the native of Africa, Lord Kinross says: "The child must evolve on a basis of respect and responsibility: respect for his parents which develops into respect for himself; responsibility towards his parents, which develops into responsibility for others." Under the old régime "the African began to learn this mutual responsibility and respect. Under the present régime he is losing it. He respects one quality above all others in a master; and that is strength. It is the one quality which his present master is afraid to display . . . The European need not be a Fascist to bring up the African in the way he should go. But equally he need not be a sentimental Liberal . . . a parent can be stern without being brutal." (LORDS OF THE EQUATOR, Part IV, Chap. VI).
Much of this applies equally to the child of civilized communities; although in his case, I should like to add "consistency" to the qualities which above all inspire respect.
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An essential branch of Education, especially in this Machine Age, is the cultivation of Taste; not merely (1), the end result supposed to be achieved by familiarizing the young with all that is best in Literature, the Drama, the Graphic and Plastic Arts and Music, and by giving them standards of quality in Manners, Speech, and even in the products of Manufacture; but also, and above all, (2) the training of their eye in the aesthetics of the human form, so as to enable them to Judge with approximate accuracy the Health, Carriage, Bodily Proportions, probable Character, and Stamina, of their fellows. Thus, they may be helped to discriminate wholesomely and prudently when the time comes for them to decide on their Choice of a Mate and even on the Choice of their Associates.
The fact that this latter form of Taste cultivation is to-day shamefully neglected, may be inferred by anyone who troubles to observe the sort of couples who too often, alas!, enter into the holy estate of Matrimony; and, with a self-complacency hardly credible in an enlightened Age, assume that, as types, they are worth duplicating, if not triplicating, and are entitled to add their contribution to their nation's posterity.
On the other hand, in their efforts to cultivate Taste in sense (1), except for Manners and Speech, elaborate provision is made. Whether it is always wise may be
Indeed, we may wonder whether in this respect our modern educational system is any more successful than were the schools of 150 years ago; and we are reminded of Byron's complaint about the loss of enjoyment he suffered, even in reading the best authors, including Shakespeare, through '"the habit of having them hammered into us at eight years old, so that when we are old enough to enjoy them, the taste is gone and the appetite palled." (CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE, 1818. Note to Canto IV, LXXV).
Here again, many present-day forces tend to defeat the Educational Authorities' endeavours to cultivate the Taste of the rising generation. In both popularized music and dramatic works, the Press and the Cinema, quality is often so low and the appeal so vulgar that children insensibly acquire standards too depraved to make them fastidious when subsequently they are in a position to choose their own sources of entertainment. The loud and prolonged applause which even the most jejune and vulgar B.B.C. variety programmes invariably receive, argues a very easily satisfied, not to say uncultivated, Taste in the men, women and children composing their audiences; and to say this is by no means either hypercritical or highbrow. Indeed, although I may often have wondered at the relish with which listeners appear to accept such spiritual pabulum, I have found it impossible not to admire the uncanny skill with which the producers of these programmes are able to gauge to a nicety the depths of inanity and coarseness to which they may safely sink without forfeiting the approval of their audiences.
Whether the literature, particularly fiction, obtained by children and adolescents from public libraries, is designed to elevate and chasten their literary taste, I cannot say. But if the level maintained by the popular B.B.C. and T.V. programmes is not surpassed, the taste of the multitude of juniors is hardly likely to be cultivated in this branch of aesthetics.
Anticipating as he often did, the discoveries of a later Age, Schopenhauer emphasized the importance in education of accustoming the young mind to the facts, needs and laws of Reality (to-day understood as converting the Pleasure into the Reality Principle as a guide to conduct), and deprecated even the reading of fiction by the young. "Above all things," he said, "we must strive to lead them [i.e., the children] to a clear grasp of Reality." ("Vor allem sei man darauf bedacht sie zu einer reinen Auffassung der Wirklichkeit anzuleiten"). Thus, he disapproved of fairy tales and all fantastic romances. He even wished novel reading to be forbidden, and specifically condemned such books as GIL BLAS, the works of Lesage, THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD, and some of the novels of Walter Scott. (SÄMMTLICHE WERKE, Dr. Grisebach's Edit. Vol. IV, Chap. VI and Vol. V Chap. XXVIII). On the other hand he recommended the reading of history and biography.
Rigidly followed, this advice might deprive children of many of the most artistic prose works in European literature; but it is probable that Schopenhauer meant it to be followed only in moderation.
Finally, to return to (2) the training of young people's eyes in the aesthetics of the human form, like the cultivation of their taste in the arts, this is really a matter of equipping them with the means of discriminating wisely between what is desirable and what is undesirable, and thus to look critically about them before they leap into close human fellowships. By this I do not mean that they should be given hard and fast rules about particular types of beauty, as for instance that depicted in the Elgin marbles; but that they should be taught certain minima of Health, Vigour, Normality of Proportions, and Bodily Sweetness (i.e., the quality of newly-planed wood or of a freshly plucked rose, which the Germans express by the word "Appetitlichkeit") below which it is precarious to descend.
For this reason, the principles currently foisted on English public opinion by politicians, the Press and certain publicists, to combat all forms of "Racial Discrimination", are strongly to be deprecated. For to teach young people, as they are undoubtedly being taught to-day, to abandon discrimination in judging other human beings, amounts to undermining one of the most precious impulses of human nature. Yet, deplorable as this teaching is, we have documentary evidence that it is now being encouraged, if not insisted upon, in all schools, and by the highest Authority.
At the 15th Session of the Human Rights Commission held in New York in March and April 1959, the last article "on the declaration of the rights of the child," which was considered and approved, read as follows:
"The child should be brought up in an atmosphere which will prompt understanding and tolerance and friendship among peoples, and national, racial and religious groups, and aversion for all forms of discrimination." (The Italics are mine: A.M.L.)
The reader will note the impudence with which the Commission speak of the "rights of the child" in respect of these recommendations, so that the average reader may be led to believe that their object is above all to serve the interest of children. Also to be noted is the deceptively harmless opening section of the article, so as to gild the pill of the last seven words.
Now, this tendentious doctrine, framed to favour miscegenation and mongrelization of all kinds, is of quite recent origin as Professor Darlington has pointed out (See my article in the September issue of this Journal). It sharply conflicts with the deepest intincts of both normal children and sane and healthy adults, and serves only one purpose, which is, not to safeguard the "rights of the child" at all, but merely to save the face and the embarrassment of racial interlopers.
Yet Cyril Bibby, in a silly book RACE PREJUDICE AND EDUCATION (1959) argues elaborately in its favour, and quotes with approval Article 16 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads:
"Men and Women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family."
What a promise of unhappiness, especially for the children of such marriages, such a right involves! For there are occasions enough in Matrimony for conflict and
This officially prescribed doctrine is thus the very antithesis of the cultivation of taste in the aesthetics of the human form; yet it is being steadily inculcated upon everybody in areas where extreme modern Liberalism prevails.
By and large, therefore, as to the first form of Taste cultivation, it can hardly be said that much success is at present being achieved; for few people would be prepared to maintain that taste in the arts etc., and in manners and speech, is spreading conspicuously throughout the nation. As to the second form of Taste cultivation, as we have seen, very far from its being practised, everything is being done to destroy whatever vestiges of it may still be left in modern Man.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sloan Chesser, full of the rapture most Feminists were feeling after the complete triumph of their campaign in England, declared rather too sanguinely that "The child of 1950 will be born into a wonderful world. His mother is in the nursery to-day; his grandmother, one of these modern matrons of the 1930's is realising her importance and responsibility as never before in the world's history of mothers." (SEX EDUCATION AND THE PARENT, 1932, p. 83).
If only that had been an accurate prophecy! But, alas! like most of the forecasts about the consequences of Women's Emancipation and uncontested Dominion, it has proved false; and the "wonderful world" Dr. Sloan Chesser's ecstasy caused her to picture, is not one whit better, but rather considerably worse, than the world as seen 130 years ago by the Rev. Dr. Hunt. He was a visiting magistrate and, commenting on the juvenile delinquency of his day, he said, "defective discipline in the home" was the cause of it. (JUVENILE DELINQUENCY by J. H. Bagot, 1941, p. 79).
As the previous articles in this series have shown, there is little for us to shout about at least as far as the young are concerned in this "wonderful world." Neither in the home nor in the schools are conditions of a kind calculated to produce a generation of people of sterling character. On the contrary, in addition to the softness that has spread to the younger members of the nation from every quarter of its life, we look in vain among them for signs of sober restraint, self-control, responsible behaviour, and good taste in the choice of their pastimes. This is not to imply their elders are any better. Despite the fact that they were the very nursery children to which Dr. Sloan Chesser referred thirty years ago in the passage I have quoted, and no matter from what class they may hail, their demeanour and their manner of life, whether in matrimony or out of it, could hardly be termed exemplary.
To give but one single instance, seemingly trivial but which, as pointed out in these columns in October, 1959, may actually have the gravest consequences for future health and stamina of the population, behold the present spending habits of the young! I assume that it is generally known that, thanks to the people's prevailing affluence, the misguided policies of educational theorists, and the acquiescence in these policies, of parents and official bodies with public money to hand out, young people now receive what to my mind, as an old Victorian, seems much too much pocket money. And this lavish largesse is distributed without any accompanying supervision, guidance, or control concerning how wisely to spend it. The consequence is, of course, that it all goes on confectionery, sweetstuffs, unwholesome drink, and other forms of self-indulgence. Never, indeed, have the producers who supply tuck-shops, confectioners and cocktail bars, had it so good.
With his customary superficiality and romanticism, which his contemporaries mistook for wisdom, George Bernard Shaw, strongly advocated the giving of weekly doles to children with the object of familiarizing them with the handling of money. "Children should have regular pocket-money," he said, "and not be thrown on the world with no practice in fending for themselves out of an earned income." (EVERYBODY'S POLITICAL WHAT'S WHAT, 1944, Chap. XXI).
No mention of any preliminary education in how to spend the money! Yet, no sophisticated recommendation could have received a more flattering and unstinting response. And with what result?
The ability to handle unearned money without any previous discipline in the spending of it the sort of discipline that comes of having to meet pressing and essential needs means simply that spending will be indiscriminate and generally wasteful and injurious. In the child's case, to-day, it means only that his threepenny bits, sixpences and shillings are ultimately "handled" by all the tuck-shop keepers and confectioners in his district.
So inveterate and widespread is this drug-addiction among children for that is what it really amounts to that tuck-shops have apparently been installed in the schools themselves, and a timely protest against this shameful practice was made on January 5 by Mr. James Toller, Chief School Dental Officer of Cambridge. Addressing the City's Educational Committee, he "asked for
Mr. Duncan Logan, a schoolmaster at Royden, Essex, speaking of a series of surveys he and his associates have made about children's habits and the amount of spending money they get, told a DAILY MAIL reporter that "the average weekly pocket money is 4/-" (DAILY MAIL, 28.12.59). From a previous article, my readers have already learnt about the Derbyshire Dental Officer who said that "in one infant school of over 200 pupils, almost every child has 6d. a day for sweets" (TIMES, 1.8.59). But, in the TIMES of three years ago we had already been told that at boarding special schools for necessitous children, administered by the London County Council, "inmates of 17 and over were now to get 6/3 instead of 5/- a week" pocket money (25.9.56).
This is surely quite insensate and shows the extent to which even nonsensical views have been taken seriously by modern people, including Officialdom. The old Victorian exclaims: "These doles, if necessary at all, are far too high." And I think he is right, particularly as in hundreds of thousands of homes to-day, children habitually get even more than the L.C.C. allows its necessitous children.
When we bear in mind that King George V, as a cadet in the BRITTANIA, in the early eighties of last century, had only 1/- a week pocket-money (KING GEORGE V, by John Gore, 1941, Chap. III, 2), we may well wonder what has come over England in the last eighty years. It may be argued that money values have altered so fundamentally since 1880 that no comparison is possible. I would reply that they have not altered sufficiently to justify giving adolescents over six times what George V was receiving 80 years ago as a royal cadet.
I have called this a seemingly trivial sign of the times. But it is not as trivial as it seems; for it illustrates both the unrestrained self-indulgence of the Age, and the means whereby this vice is fostered in, it not actually inculcated upon, young people by one at least of the mistaken policies which come under the heading of Modern Education. If it is thought that character-training is furthered by such practices, we can but deplore the state of mind of people who can entertain such notions.
In a letter to the NEW STATESMAN, Mr. R. Franklin refers to a passage written by Roy Kerridge on TEENAGERS IN BRIGHTON, in which the writer argues that "most of them lead appallingly dull lives all day long in schools, offices, or factories, so isn't it natural that they should want to go out and enjoy themselves at night?" (Issue of 5.12.59). As a remedy for this alleged dullness and the riotous living to which it is supposed inevitably to lead, Mr. Franklin suggests that "The Socialist vision of common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange . . . has inspired the selfless endeavour of generations of Socialists as no other vision can," and that by preaching the ideals in this vision to modern youth, "the Labour Party can bring new excitement and meaning to a life that is sadly lacking in both."
Is it conceivable that anyone to-day can be so far removed from reality and its problems as to suppose for one moment that politico-economic ideals preached to modern adolescents, would have the slightest effect in inspiring them, or deflecting them from their frivolous and self-indulgent courses? Such appeals to-day would hardly move adults; and one must agree with that French politician who, in a B.B.C. debate on the causes of Labour's defeat at the polls in October, 1959, argued that people in the mass are no longer moved by political and economic theories, but only by facts.
Destitute of sane aspirations, elevated tastes, sober judgment and self-restraint all of which qualities should be inculcated in the young from their earliest childhood ; and in the absence above all of any edifying example in the lives of their elders (particularly the affluent among them), can anyone seriously maintain that presenting them with the vision of one day belonging to a State enjoying common ownership of the means of production, will settle them as contented, well-behaved citizens? And is one necessarily a cynic for flatly denying such a possibility?
It is very much to be feared that no such solution of the teenager problem offers the slightest hope of success; for this hope depends solely on a thorough regeneration of our national life, including especially the regimen both in our homes and schools. Briefly, it lies in a conception of Education as a means whereby balanced, sane, sober characters are reared irrespective of the factual information picked up in the process. For such characters are unlikely to seek in riotous living a relief for dullness, nor are they susceptible of being easily corrupted.
In the DAILY TELEGRAPH some time in the autumn of 1959, Mr. Arthur Pegg, in his presidential address to the annual conference of the National Association of Remand Home Superintendents and Matrons, was reported as having said: "Discipline should be instilled early in children so that they can develop standards to carry them through life . . . That discipline comes from within is all bunkum . . . The number of boys coming into the remand homes from excellent homes made one frightened . . . I believe it is because we are developing a generation who have very little, if any, ethical standard of behaviour on which they can run their lives . . . During the Victorian era boys and girls were brought up in a tight environment . . . but now we are handing nothing on to our young people."
This is lamentably true. Both in the home and the schools, we have forgotten that the principal object of Education is not the acquisition of knowledge, but of a noble character, ruled by impulses conditioned by the example and precept of self-respecting seniors. And English mothers seem either to have scorned this aspect of nurture, or, during recent decades, never to have heard of it. As Mr. Pegg remarked on the occasion in question, "A lot of parents lost the battle early, the trouble starting when the child was an infant."
Who is going to bring this home to English mothers?
Certainly not the Press, whose exclusive aim, since women are now the most important target of all the large advertising concerns, is to praise and flatter them indiscriminately and to deny them no domestic virtue. Nor, when we explore any of the main thoroughfares of our cities and towns, and see the acres of shop-frontage devoted to the display of women's frocks, cloaks and underwear, can we fail to understand, however much we may deplore, the tactics of the advertisement-subsidized Press of the Age.
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After all that has been said, it is not easy to sum up and be fair to all parties. As we have seen, just as there are many excuses for the majority of misguided mothers who, owing, among other reasons, to the present-day necessity of lavishing all their rich fund of affection on only one, or at most two, offspring, tend to be scandalously lax disciplinarians; so, in all but the Independent Schools, the teaching staffs labour under grave difficulties in discharging their duties to the public.
As for the fathers, about whom many will think that too little has been said in this series on Education, no student of English social history would be prepared to absolve them of all blame for the havoc that has been wrought in the characters of the young of at least two generations; but even this blame itself is subject to many weighty reservations.
It is true that if the men of the nation had not, either through easy-going indolence, or actual incompetence and weakness, surrendered their leadership in society and the home, and so discredited themselves in public affairs as to forfeit their ascendancy and invite the co-operation of their womenfolk in governing the country, we should never have witnessed Feminine Domination in its present exorbitant form. For, just as a Jeanne d'Arc is unthinkable under a Caesar or a Napoleon, and just as Bessie Braddock M.P. is unthinkable under a Cromwell, so future historians will be unable to account for the minor, not to say subordinate, rôle of men in the home, and their admission of women as their political partners, without having to acknowledge that something must have gone seriously awry with masculine ability and character in England.
Against this, it may be properly objected that the average father spends much less time in the home than does his wife. For many years indeed, his children may all be in bed when he comes home from work; and often it is only when they have grown beyond the age when their bed-time precedes his homecoming that he has any chance of affecting their character at all. Except during week-ends, therefore, the influence he can exert is but a fraction of that which usually falls to the lot of his spouse.
It is true that if the ideal relationship always existed between the couple, and the average husband was therefore able to sustain the rôle of leader in their union, he would be able given the necessary ability and wisdom so to impress on his wife the principles of sound discipline with its indispensable components of a good example and of firmness and consistency, that even in his absence the proper educative methods would be practised in his
But there is yet something more to be placed in defence of fathers, which is that, from the highest to the lowest quarters of the national life, there has descended upon modern England a softness, flabbiness and absence of grit, realism and clarity, which have considerably handicapped even those males who retained some understanding of the essentials of child-management. What with the absurd exaltation of childhood and the recent popular tendency to frown on discipline as necessarily brutal in itself a legacy of and an exaggerated reaction to the wanton inhumanities of the Age of Dickens even the enlightened fathers in all classes, have found themselves so obstructed and fettered in their control of the domestic circle that, in despair, they have abandoned every attempt at exercising their former rights, and with fatalistic resignation have handed the reins over to their wives.
This is not to suggest that if all the fathers had retained and exercised their rights they would necessarily have proved better educators than their wives, for one has seen too many fathers who invalidate such a conclusion; but, by and large, it may with justice be claimed that the recent abdication by most men of the rôle of leader in the home has contributed to the growth of anarchy and lawlessness among the youth of the nation. And, as I have already indicated, those psychologists and sociologists, who have pointed to the absence of fathers from home during two World Wars as among the many causes of Juvenile Delinquency in recent years, unwittingly and indirectly confirm my contention; for if Army service, by withdrawing men from the domestic circle, played its part in promoting indiscipline and lawlessness in the youth of the nation, it can hardly be denied that the masculine surrender of control owing to the many causes I have enumerated, must have had a similar result.
Be this as it may, the facts point indubitably to some serious flaw in that neglected part of our national Education which concerns the moulding of character; and since all agree that the most important phase in this process of moulding character is covered by the early years of childhood, the inevitable conclusion is that the parental, and especially the maternal, rôle in Education has during the last few decades in England, been lamentably defective.
On this account it is both otiose and foolish to concentrate our attention, as everybody in England is now doing, on the juvenile delinquent, male or female, child or adolescent, and on the means whereby we can correct, punish or reform him or her. It is worse than useless to waste time and treasure in setting learned committees the task of investigating the cause of the increase of crime and lawlessness in the country. For the steady rise in youthful crime during the period in which such measures have been adopted, shows that the problem has been misunderstood.
"Young offenders represent the core of Britain's criminal population," said Mr. Terence Morris in Nov. 1959. "They are not only more numerous in the courts than their elders, but the proportion of them in the 16 to 21 age group getting into trouble, increases apparently every year." (LISTENER, 27.12.59). A few weeks later the Press reported that "This year has been Britain's blackest on record for crime. And Mr. Butler, the Home Secretary, has been warned that 1960 would be worse . . . Early in the New Year, Mr. Butler will face embarrassing demands from his backbenchers for the restoration of legal birching . . . This could create a personal crisis for Mr. Butler who wants penal reform on liberal lines. But his critics are getting impatient." (SUNDAY EXPRESS, 27.12.59).
Nor are their fellow-countrymen the only victims of these youthful criminals; for their barbarity extends also to animals. According to the R.S.P.C.A. Report for 1959, convictions against children for wanton cruelty to animals increased from 84 in 1958 to 111 in 1959; and they state that whereas the convictions against adults were "obtained for cruelty by neglect", in those against children "there had been active cruelty." (TIMES, 31.12.59). And it should not be forgotten that this report reveals only those cases that came to the knowledge of the Society's inspectors. In my own village in Suffolk I heard of many cases that remained unreported to the Society.
So it goes on! And, whilst panic spreads, the remedies suggested grow more and more ill-considered and superficial. The only realistic and promising course, which no one seems to perceive, is, therefore, to go to the root of the trouble and, unpalatable as it may be to modern people, inured to the concept of feminine sacro-sanctity, not to say, infallibility, is to confront women with the facts and to show them that it is their responsibility as mothers, which for decades now has been shirked, or at least, not understood.
There must be millions of mothers to-day, who would admit that they know nothing about psychology, let alone that of the child; are ignorant of the supreme importance of the period of infancy and early childhood in character formation and how this is influenced by the child's imitative faculty. They would agree that they had never been told how essential were consistency and firmness in education and of the rôle of self-indulgence in dominating their treatment of their children; for it is notoriously easier and more pleasing to bring gratified smiles than frowns to a child's face. Above all, they would probably acknowledge that no one had ever assured them that discipline inspired by justice is much more likely to cement filial attachment than persistent spoiling.
Yet a wise woman, Dr. Kate Friedländer, twelve years ago, speaking of the early years of childhood, said, "The power which the mother has at her disposal during these formative years is very great indeed and much will depend on the way in which it is used . . . If the power of the mother over the child at this early age is used in a rational way, the antisocial instinctive urges will be modified into socially acceptable attitudes and characteristics without too much loss of instinctive energy." (THE ANALYTICAL APPROACH TO JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, 1947, pp. 3637 and 146).
How many of our mothers have an inkling of all this?
Let us cease from beating about the bush and sparing their self-esteem. For there is only one way of solving the Juvenile Delinquency problem, and that is the re-education of the mothers of England. They must be told the truths they least suspect about themselves and their offspring; and, before they embark on the fateful path of parenthood, they must know at least the elementary truths I have briefly enumerated in these articles. It may not be their fault that they do not and indeed cannot know them; but as there is no hope of abating the incidence of juvenile crime until they do know, it is folly to keep them any longer in ignorance.
This one great initial blot on our Educational System
Only when this first step has been taken should attention he given to the removal of the defects in our schools; for, without the improvement of home conditions, this second step, however well planned, could hardly be expected to effect the desired result.