Friday, December 19, 2003
Chapter 47 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974
Prejudice Both Pathological and Natural
By MAX BELOFF
The word 'RACIALISM', or 'racism', has become, like 'fascism', no longer a term descriptive of a particular phenomenon, but an undifferentiated term of abuse. The same fate has befallen the term 'genocide' which no longer means the deliberate attempt to extirpate an entire race, however defined, as in the 'final solution', but some degree of oppression which may or may not include large-scale killings exercised by one people over another. Since nothing in politics is more to be deplored than the muddled thinking which shows itself in a perversion of language one must always be sensitive to questions of definition of this kind. I would myself limit racialism in its international political aspect to those cases where a deliberate attempt has been made by a powerful government to rearrange the map of the world or part of it, on the assumption that the biological differences that exist, or are presumed to exist, between different races are the most important aspect of relations between human groups, that the races of man can be disposed in a hierarchy, and that the 'superior' races however defined are entitled ipso facto to subjugate, oust or even exterminate the inferior ones.
In that sense racialist doctrines explicit or implicit are to be found at intervals throughout history; in modern times on a small scale in relation to European colonisation, particularly in North America and Australia. But only in the case of Nazi Germany does racialism as a force in international politics appear to have had a period of domination. Fortunately no regime since 1945 has followed the Nazi path, though the overthrow of the Nazis has not put an end to the appeals of racialism or prevented its survival in some quarters. But although one could no doubt in a mood of pessimism visualise a recurrence of the Nazi phenomenon or of something with the same basic characteristics, it has not happened yet, and this particular problem is therefore absent from the international political scene of the moment.
What does exist as a factor is of course 'race' itself, by which I mean not necessarily with Disraeli that "race is all" but that much that goes on in international affairs, and in many countries in domestic policies as well, is to be explained in terms of the actual or postulated differences between races. Even this subject is full of pitfalls.
For one thing 'racialism' in the Nazi sense as well as other phenomena such as South African Apartheid as it works in practice have so discredited the belief that race is important that some aspects of any serious discussion are almost taboo. No one denies that at any rate some human groups are markedly different from each other, that for instance the Irish soldiers who served the U.N. in the Congo were not likely to be taken for natives of that country. But if anyone suggests that physical differences may have psychic parallels, that some races may for instance be less talented than others in some measurable respect, the suggestion which does not prima facie seem unreasonable is met with such contumely that even a purely scientific investigation designed to establish the facts if possible is thought reprehensible and its results unsuitable for publication. The equality of all races in everything has become a dogma almost as entrenched in the modern enlightened UNESCO-type mind as was the reverse in Hitler's Reich.
It is also difficult because while the major races of mankind can in the broad sense be identified and characterised, the lesser groups within them which may or may not be regarded as separate races can provoke an almost endless quest for definition. Race, caste, even nation are all useful concepts; but all of them overlap and intermingle and give rise to intellectual as well as social and political problems. It is important to emphasise these complications if only as an answer to the type of commentator who denounces 'racialism' wherever a white man is unfair to a black man but refuses to consider whether the concept has any relevance to black men oppressing brown men or vice versa. All right thinking men were opposed to 'Aryanisation' even before it culminated in the holocaust; but who questions the right to pursue 'Africanisation'?
It is also a particularly difficult subject for a Jewish writer because of the ambivalence of Jewish attitudes towards race. For while it is true that Jews define themselves in religious terms, the nature of their religious beliefs and the ways in which the right to automatic recognition as a Jew is acquired --as shown in recent debates in Israel-- emphasises physical descent, and therefore tends to promote the idea that the Jews are essentially a race despite the obvious heterogenity of the physical types present in any large gathering of Jews. Since so much of Jewish energy is spent on maintaining and perpetuating the existence of the Jewish race and since admission to the Jewish religious community of those not born within it is not normally regarded desirable, there is an obvious foundation for saying that Jews are in fact committed to the belief in the importance of race, and this can have repercussions in the way in which international issues involving Jews are debated.
For one thing, it obviously affects the future relations between Israel and its neighbours in so far as they are influenced by internal Israeli developments. If Israel is to remain at anything like its present frontiers-- and I, for one, would expect this to happen-- the future of the country will largely turn on Jewish-Arab relations within it. Some people there argue that the only long-term policy is the creation of a single nationality which could come about through a Judaisation of the Arabs including their mass conversion to Judaism. But in the present temper of the world this outcome is hard to believe in. On the other hand, if the secularisation of the two communities was to go on-- and much in the world seems to point that way-- the problem of race would be posed in a new fashion.
In any event, we cannot rule out the fact that the claims of races to maintain their identity and act as vehicles for separate cultures are common form, and cannot be regarded as illegitimate by anyone who accepts the basic Jewish case for a recognisable identity whether in Israel or the diaspora.
The repercussions of this fact upon international relations will largely be a by-product of the development of a series of internal situations where identifiable racial groups exist within a single political complex. The situation is thus not the same as half a century ago when the issue was one of equality of access to the emptier parts of the world by different races. The exclusion of the Japanese from the U.S.A. and the white Dominions was an important cause of the extension to the Pacific area of the second world war. Such pressures could arise again-- from Japan itself, or from Chinese pressure in Siberia. But the right to limit immigration by category -- i.e., by race -- has now been well established in almost all countries. What we are mainly dealing with are the consequences of a previous period when some kinds of migration across racial divides were relatively unhampered, as they were from Commonwealth countries into the United Kingdom until very recently.
What we are witnessing is a reverse movement, an endeavour to reassert racial homogeneity by getting rid of elements who are regarded as unassimilable or wish to preserve their identity. This does not in all cases lead to serious international complications. Some countries may be too weak to react; what can Greece or the Lebanon do about their diasporas? Or they may not wish to embroil themselves with countries whose goodwill they require for other reasons. India's relative indifference to the fate of Indians in East Africa contrasts very strongly with the agitation about the rights of Indians in East and Southern Africa earlier this century.
In some cases, it is not clear whether or not assimilation in some form is the goal of a racial minority. A generation ago most people took it for granted that the American Negroes were concerned to assert parity of rights with white Americans and that, having achieved this aim and corrected their unequal economic status, the problem would resolve itself by an ultimate biological admixture thus continuing a process which began in slavery times. The United States might have become more like Brazil and develop a complicated racial admixture of its own.
Such views have been challenged by the emergence of movements denying the desirability for the American Negroes of assimilation and claiming an independence of culture looking to the re-establishment of affinities with their countries of origin in Africa. It is not for the Jews witnessing the return to Zion to say that this is unthinkable; the advent of Negroes to the new world began a mere three and a half centuries ago; but they have of course far less in the way of religious or cultural links to build upon, and it may be that what we are witnessing in the United States is only a temporary interruption to the processes of the 'melting-pot'. Meanwhile however there are some signs that other elements in the American amalgam are also beginning to dispute the assumptions of the melting-pot theory and to claim more recognition of their separate characteristics: but these claims fall into the category of national rather than racial ones.
Meanwhile of course the combination of Negro dissent and the Vietnam war are tending to make the United States a general target of suspicion and dislike for most non-white countries, and through the mechanism of the United Nations this fact is not without its significance in international relations. But race would seem ultimately less significant for America's place in the world than questions of economic advantage and pure ideology.
When we look at the great adversary, the Soviet Union, the situation is very different. In theory, the Soviet Union repudiates any form of racial approach to social and political issues; the recognition of some national groups as entitled to a limited cultural autonomy is a purely temporary concession to particular situations, and does not in theory provide an obstacle to the eventual creation of 'Soviet man'.
The reality is very different. The Russians are no more immune from racial prejudice than other people, as 'third world' residents in the Soviet Union have come to learn. The dispute with China is undoubtedly envenomed, perhaps on both sides, by racial considerations. Within the Soviet Union, the Great Russians assert their cultural superiority and claim the leading positions at the expense both of other Slav peoples and of the non-white minorities. The movement of populations is an instrument of government, undertaken for security reasons.
The ambiguity inherent in the Soviet attitude to the Jews is familiar. They have never enjoyed the status of a national minority or been recognised as having the right to cultural self-expression except for brief periods when it was hoped to impress gullible people abroad. As a religious minority they have been subjected to the oppression exercised against all religions. The logical conclusion would have been total assimilation into the host-peoples. But whether in deference to popular anti-semitism of a traditional kind, or for political and even security reasons connected with the links binding Russian Jews to Jews in other countries, this has not been attempted in the sense that the distinction between Jew and non-Jew in the eyes of officialdom has been maintained.
Such pressures and a degree of discrimination in some spheres tends to hold Jews together in a negative fashion and to prevent the disappearance of the Jews as an identifiable group which it is easier to call racial than national or religious, since the national ties are weak and the religious ones only now the affair of a minority. The advent of Israel and the events that have transpired since its foundation-- particularly the Six Day War-- have given a new positive content to Jewish self-consciousness. It is the harder to cope with because of the stance which the Soviet Union has itself come to occupy in the affairs of the Middle East.
It would be too much to say that this stance has been determined by the desire to isolate the Jewish community of the Soviet Union and therefore by considerations that are in the last resort racial. There are good reasons (from the Soviet point of view) for cultivating Arabs rather than Jews; just as no philosemitic tendencies are needed to explain the Soviet Union's original acceptance of the creation of the State of Israel. Policies once designed to embarrass Britain are now redesigned to embarrass the U.S.A.
But it is not clear at all whether the Soviet Union has now got a definite policy with regard to its own Jewish problem: the problem of the Jews who want to leave. For one thing no one, perhaps not even in the Soviet Union, certainly not outside, knows what the dimensions of the problem are; how many Jews would leave if the gates were opened? What proportion would choose Israel as their ultimate destination if other opportunities were available?
We know even less about other racial and national minorities. At a time when racial ties are reasserting themselves, can the Soviet Union be sure of how, for instance, Soviet citizens of Turkic descent -- many times as numerous as the Jews --would react if there was any weakening of the Great Russian determination to maintain their isolation and subjection?
As for the new Super-Power, China, which is clearly coming onto the world scene to an ever larger extent, what role will the historic racial solidarity and sense of racial superiority of the Chinese play in the international policies of China, particularly in relation to the areas of Chinese colonisation in South East Asia?
By comparison with these vast questions, the international problems created by South African Apartheid seem relatively simple. At one time it looked as though South Africa's racial policies were an international danger, in the sense that the countries of black Africa would combine against it and receive backing from the Russians or the Chinese or both, and that the ideological overtones of such a struggle could not leave the U.S.A. and its allies outside it. It now looks as though this was an over-simplification. Apartheid provides a useful slogan for agitators of the Left in various white countries since opposition to it is widespread among good men. But nothing serious can be done in this way, and the obstruction of sporting fixtures or cultural contacts cannot be an end in itself. Meanwhile the black African countries themselves are divided in their attitude according to what they regard as the national interest of particular States. As with the Arab countries and Israel, the most verbally hostile are often those remotest from the line of fire. It now looks much less likely that World War III will begin somewhere on the Zambesi.
Indeed one could argue that race is more likely to lead to international complications on the other side of the Atlantic, in Latin America and the Caribbean. From some points of view, the upheavals in those countries are not merely the consequence of economic deprivation and misery but of the reassertion of the racial identity of the Indian against his Spanish conquerors after centuries of submission. The role of the United States economically and as a prop of Right-wing regimes adds to the sense of racial confrontation. One must again not overdo things. The Tupamaros must be as white as any other Uruguayans and race plays little part in the tangled politics of Argentina. But in the Andean countries, as earlier in Mexico, race is clearly a factor of the greatest importance.
Even this brief survey will show why it seems dangerous and misleading to talk of racialism as the important thing. It is common to all human groups that men seek comfort in shared identities; what we call race is one of the most conspicuous of such shared identities. Most races cherish a vision of their own superiority and endeavour to maintain their separateness by various institutional or ideological means. Religions-- those that do not, like Judaism or Hinduism, identify with a racial grouping-- may try to bridge the gap; so may an ideology like communism. Often they fail or have to make concessions to race in the process.
The world must learn to live with this plurality for a long time; perhaps for all the time the human race still has on earth. Even within particular political communities very different races can survive in a healthy symbiosis and with mutual respect. What we need is a study of what the limits of such co-existence are, where the surgery of partition is needed or merely the gentler cure of federalism or its equivalent. We must look out for where racial feeling becomes pathological rather than worry about prejudices which are deep-rooted and natural. Jews in particular, quick in the light of their history, to sense prejudice in others, must also be aware of it in themselves. International relations are difficult and dangerous and will go on being so; the important thing is to try to distinguish where the real dangers lie. Proportion is all.
This article originally appeared in "Patterns of Prejudice" (1971, 5, 1-4)-- a publication of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, London.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Chapter 48 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974
The New Education
By: F. P. JUST
EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA has been characterised over the last few decades by the unremitting importation from abroad of uniformly erroneous innovations which, before being thrown out, have retarded our children. These are frequently uneducated and unhappy in the middle and upper school, and bored in the lower school. One educationist after another, seeing that all is not well, prescribes a remedy; and in almost every case it will simply be another heady dose of the same kind of stuff that has caused the trouble, one more measure that will decrease the child's intellect and make his path through tertiary studies and life in general more difficult.
One catch-cry echoes above all the others that come and go. It is the complaint about 'cramming'. This is the word used nowadays for the acquisition of knowledge, and it is presented as the malady of today's children, whose minds are allegedly over-taxed by the vast amount of data which we ask them to absorb. This is a tempting hypothesis, but it does not stand up to examination, and not even the children themselves will accept it. Indeed, they know much better than many an educationist what is wrong with them: They may complain of overwork, for assignments and discussions are laborious, time-consuming and frequently time-wasting. But they will never complain of 'crammed' heads, for they only wish that after so much effort their heads were indeed crammed with more clear facts, whether in arithmetic, spelling, grammar, history, geography, or any of the upper school subjects.
We have a crisis in our schools, but it is not a crisis of too much juvenile intellect, any more than it is a crisis of manpower and materials. It is a crisis of intellectual depreciation brought on by a series of fallacious ideas and methods imposed by so-called pedagogical 'experts'. Both teachers and pupils suffer from it, and however it may manifest itself in the classroom, it is basically a lack of confidence in one's subject, a failure to devote oneself singlemindedly and wholeheartedly to the usually demanding task of teaching and learning the minutiae which constitute the substance of most disciplines, whether they be tables, foreign verbs or historical facts.
As more and more unsuccessful innovations have been introduced over the years by 'experts' believing they had found a short-cut to knowledge, it has become increasingly difficult for good, experienced teachers to retain or recover their trust in their own tried subjects and methods. As for the young ones, they frequently emerge from training with only the latest, or second-latest, fallacy in their methodological armory. Catch-cries such as 'we must avoid cramming' and 'we must teach pupils how to think' (instead of what to think) are both causes and effects of all this wrong pedagogy.
And now, at the very time when the conception that education is the development of the intellect -- i.e. the accumulation of ordered knowledge -- most needs reinforcing, we have one more massive dose of anti-intellect virus administered by the 'experts' and again prescribed by overseas educationists. It is a classical case of prescribing the cause as the remedy.
Educationists used to be pedagogues, that is to say that when they talked about educating children they talked as teachers experienced in one or more disciplines, and the core of their thinking was centred on the imparting of knowledge to pupils. Then many forsook their disciplines and began to speak as self-styled experts on teaching methods, or, if their leanings were in the direction of ethics, sociology and politics rather than psychology, they became self-styled experts on curricula. It would seem to the cynically-minded that the last qualification for being a present-day educationist is to be an expert in a particular discipline taught in schools -- and knowledge of the subject does not seem to matter.
Of all the innovations with which educationists have bedevilled our schools over the years, the New Education would seem to be the most pernicious. Emanating seemingly from the curricular rather than the methodological variety of educationist, it promises not the destruction of a particular discipline by the use of a wrong method, but the destruction of all or most of the disciplines, and their replacement by a core of unintegrated sociologically-oriented general topics, in which the only common factor is what the New Educators call their 'relevance'. In its extreme form it promises the virtual elimination of school as we know it.
At this point, it becomes impossible to ignore broader ideological considerations, if one is to honestly pursue a discussion of our school crisis. At the risk of alienating the sympathies of teachers who have agreed with the arguments so far presented, but who are unwilling to look Old and New Left strategies squarely in the face, one must go beyond education if one is to explore New Education.
It is not for nothing that one of the original producers of the currently controversial 'Little Red Schoolbook', which is only an extreme manifestation of the spirit which animates the New Education, says this: 'The book has nothing to do with education. Its sole aim is to train a future generation in radical anarchy.' The apparent discontinuity between, say, the New Left anarchists of the 'Little Red Schoolbook' and -- for example -- certain Christian educationists who seemingly dream of some new Garden of Eden, the apparent disproportion between the conspiratorial activities of some young Maoist activist teachers and the introduction of nondisciplinary core subjects in some church school, should not blind us to either of two things:
* There is no question of ideological identity between all the adherents of the New Education;
* There is nevertheless ideological affinity, and the spirit of regenerating society in some manner or another is predominant in all its devotees.
They are all sociologically inspired and all anti-traditional, and they all derive, consciously or unconsciously, from the Rousseau-Marx-Marcuse school of thought. From Rousseau to Bishop Robinson is not even a stone's throw.
The precise effects, present and future, of the New Education on schooling may be summed up by saying that many teachers are concentrating not on imparting a body of knowledge within a given discipline, not on teaching English, mathematics, history, geography, etc., but on changing young human beings and thereby changing society. This they do with varying degrees of lucidity, according to the groups to which they belong, but they all share a common contempt for a large part of the academic content of their subjects, and a common dislike of subjects involving the learning of large bodies of detailed facts. Indeed, one of their main catch-cries, as already mentioned, is that the acquisition of facts, whether they be historical dates, formulae or Latin verbs, is 'cramming'. Naturally, mathematics and the physical sciences, although sometimes badly mauled by wrong methods and incompetence, have suffered the least in New Education, perhaps mainly because nobody has as yet had the audacity to propose that they should be thrown out.
The New Education scheme, of course, also places great emphasis on creativity -- that is to say the study of our great cultural heritage in literature and art is replaced by the creation by juveniles of generally worthless trivia. Again the pupil is denied the knowledge which will allow his judgment and taste to mature.
Languages, which likewise contain a great body of sociologically irrelevant detail, have fared less well, and as well as being practically destroyed in many cases by methodology and ignorance, have reached a stage where their absence from the curriculum has often been suggested.
Poor old English grammar has been dead for years, as can be seen in the speech of many of our pupils and students.
The essence of the New Education is that the core of the curriculum should be the 'relevant' subjects, excluding history as much as possible and concentrating on the social issues of the day.
Whatever grandiose ideas and elaborate systems may be brought to bear on the elaboration of these 'relevant' subjects, where 'relevant' frequently means 'relevant to the teacher's sociological aims', in practice they resolve into projects, assignments and discussions, written and oral, on such things as television, apartheid, aboriginal rights, social injustice, abortion, sex, pollution, conservation, etc. All of these topics to be treated by uneducated children under a teacher who is virtually responsible to no one, for we must not forget that another of the new catch-cries of the New Educationist is that the teacher must be free of all the constraints of inspectors, prescribed curricula and examinations.
The evil of the New Education lies not so much in the choice of topics such as the ones just listed, which of course are stimulating and may be edifying; nor indeed essentially in the fact that they are frequently presented in a biased manner. It lies in the fact that these current topics deprive the child of all possibility of becoming properly educated, of becoming proficient in a number of separate disciplines and basic fields of knowledge, from spelling and arithmetic to history and literature and languages. In all fields in which knowledge of and training and practice in handling large bodies of data are required, our secondary students are generally lamentably poor already -- largely due to fallacious methods and unsatisfactory teaching over the past few decades. Behaviorism, Piaget, Cuisenaire, look-and-guess spelling, audio-lingualism, have all led to low academic standards within various disciplines.
But the New Education will essentially lead to non-education, and this, of course, is precisely what the originators of the campaign want. The old, generally unformulated notion behind our democratic system, including our education, is that controversial sociological subjects with their vast factual and moral generalisations should be left marginal to the basic subjects at school, and become the subjects of political debate in the world at large, where each of us has one vote in democratic elections. Many teachers, with varying degrees of lucidity, instead of trying to produce educated people who will later democratically vote on political issues, are encouraged by the New Education to directly indoctrinate uneducated children with their own answers to these issues. They are by-passing our democratic system -- and we have seen in what general direction -- and at the same time are neglecting to educate our children.
And let us not doubt that their task is easy among the children. It is so much more effortless for everyone concerned to formulate vague theories about contemporary society than to extract and analyse a set of historic facts. And apparently so much more relevant to generalise about current issues than to learn French or Indonesian verbs.
The New Education, for the ninety per cent of teachers I have not mentioned, is a challenge. They will not only have to combat the ten per cent who are already its adherents, and the big guns of education in the faculties and teachers' colleges, but the stream of new adherents who must inevitably emerge from training into the schools. Democracy in general must see it as a challenge, for even if all political motivation were removed from it, it would still remain a destroyer of education. But there is no doubt that those who have exported it to us from America see it as a destroyer of society.
I believe that only parents, and I mean each individual parent, can effectively combat the New Education. Not necessarily, or even desirably, by invoking the political factors expounded in this article, but simply by insisting that our schools maintain their traditional core of basic subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, English language and literature, languages, history, geography, and that teaching within these subjects be efficient and objective.
There are no more inspectors and no more examinations until matriculation and our children are at the mercy of an individual who may or may not be worthy of his charge; we are their sole protectors. If we fail to protect them, whatever the political consequences of our failure, we shall see them pass through school without acquiring more than a fraction of the knowledge and thought processes -- including particularly a historical perspective -- which from time immemorial have marked an educated person and have contributed to the development of the only culture in history that has been able to indulge in the luxury of even thinking of the welfare of the whole world.
On 22 May 1972 the "Melbourne Herald" published an article in which I made a plea for a return to traditional learning in our schools, and called upon parents to protect their children by personal action against the latest fallacy from abroad: the New Education. But the response to this article from all quarters, teachers, parents, students, has been so overwhelming that colleagues and myself believe we are entitled to call upon the government for some official action. Parents in particular will be satisfied only by an inquiry into what is going on in our schools.
The main points of my article were these:
l. Over the last few decades, wrong methods and the abandonment of scholarship as the main aim of education had destroyed the value of much of our schooling, and produced a crisis of 'non-education' in our schools.
2. The New Education, with its rejection of the basic disciplines in favour of sociologically 'relevant' topics on the one hand, and individual juvenile 'creativity' on the other hand, would deal the deathblow to education.
3. The New Education with its inherent tendency to place contentious social issues (and suggested solutions) before uneducated minds, had opened the way for indoctrination of our children and the consequent subversion of democracy.
4. That whatever we may think of 3, our present educational system, having abandoned syllabuses, inspection and examination, left our children entirely at the mercy of individual teachers who might or might not be worthy of their charge. This point is irrefutable, and alone would warrant action at government level.
Criticism of my article has mainly consisted, apart from personal attacks, of loose restatements of the case for the New Education emphasising its 'relevance' in our modern world. I am accused of being in an ivory tower because I believe that children should have a store of basic knowledge before they deal with 'relevant' subjects. Colleagues and I, and most parents and teachers, do not accept the theoretical case for the New Education, and are dismayed at the results of its practical application. In particular, we believe that the sense of frustration among so many of our school-children comes precisely from the failure of modern schooling to provide them with basic knowledge within recognised disciplines.
But let me move from generalisations and take a specific case of gross non-education from our bulging files. A successful young English teacher, A, finds his Leaving English Literature class (no syllabus, no examination as for Higher School Certificate, HSC) boycotted this term.
On making inquiries he finds a young colleague, X, who frankly admits that he instructs all pupils to examine subjects for their relevance and adds that obviously pupils consider Shakespeare irrelevant. X further states that they often find his own subjects irrelevant so that he teaches them what they want, and as a matter of fact, has taught them mainly sex during first term. He adds that personally he has nothing against Shakespeare, and suggests that A makes himself more relevant with some . . . sex.
When one realises that such cases are simply normal, predictable implementations of New Educational theory, one is not prepared to accept such vague reassurances as those of the Director-General: 'The schools now have a little more freedom and, on the whole, this is good'. The whole Education Establishment knows that the individual teacher now has practically unlimited freedom until he comes up against HSC. And we believe this is scandalous.
Without presuming to anticipate the outcome of any inquiry, we believe that any measures taken to remedy the present critical situation should involve the following considerations:
* The determination of curriculums and syllabuses and methods should be essentially in the hands of a board or boards consisting of representatives of the community and of experts in a particular discipline, and not in the hands of so-called educationists (who may be psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, philosophers, etc.).
* State examinations or some form of external assessment should be re-introduced so that every child may be encouraged to strive conscientiously to obtain at any of a series of levels a certificate which the pupil and everyone else knows is worth something. Not only will this measure begin to restore efficiency in teaching and motivation in learning, but it will alleviate the pressure on universities since the pupil will see other worthy academic goals apart from matriculation.
* All experimentation should be subject to control by the new board or boards appointed and subject to parents' approval; discredited methods should be replaced by order of such board or boards.
* The role of such bodies as education faculties, teachers' colleges, departmental research branches, Victorian Universities and Schools Examinations Board, VUSEB, (which instead of conducting examinations has abolished all of them except HSC, through which it now lets eighty per cent of candidates instead of the usual seventy per cent) and the Australian Council of Education Research, should be closely scrutinised and defined.
Our ideas, which such considerations would help to implement, are not elitist. On the contrary, they are based on the unshakeable belief that we elders owe it to our children to give them the basic knowledge which in turn will enable them to choose their own specialisation with that lucidity and confidence and self-esteem that only possession of such knowledge can give. To calculate reasonably well, to spell and write and read and speak reasonably well, and to see the world with some historical, geographical and scientific perspective, should be the inalienable right of every normal young Australian. Only imported educational aberrations and their local devotees are robbing him of it. It will soon be too late if the government does not act now.
... I speak as a parent, as a citizen, as a teacher, and as a linguist, in any case as someone who has spent his life learning languages, teaching languages and trying to learn to read and write and speak languages. I wrote an article, two articles, in the Herald, and the response was overwhelming in the sense of the interest displayed. And I have hence been asked to talk to you today.
... The points I made were four, and I shall deal with them one by one in the light of criticism aimed back at me by the Education Department in the interview in the Herald, 28 June 1972, and I think obliquely in a supplement in the Age, 3 July 1972.
... The first point I made was that over the last few decades, wrong methods and the abandonment of scholarship as the main aim of education had destroyed the value of much of our schooling, and produced a crisis of 'non-education' in our schools. By noneducation I meant basically the failure to provide our children with that store of basic knowledge, basic data, facts, information, which hitherto in our culture have been considered the essential furnishing of an educated man's mind, and I meant at the same time an unwillingness on the part of children and of some teachers to persevere along that hard path -- and it is hard -- of setting children the sometimes arduous task of absorbing these things, which are often seemingly unrelated, seemingly unimportant, and in the opinion of many educationists -- and I hasten to add that I do not put all educationists in the same boat -- irrelevant. 'Relevance' is the key word of the modern education, or the New Education.
Now let me discuss this first point. I mentioned wrong methods and approaches, and I named them. They do not belong to what I defined quite closely as the New Education. I might say that my critics do not seem to have read my articles with the accuracy that one could well demand of them. I think it is about two columns before I talk of the New Education. I talk about the preceding decades, I say we have a crisis which is due to a large extent to such things as behaviourism, the philosophy behind many of the approaches, and which is non-intellectual, Piaget, who stated that numerical abstractions could not be made by children, and so forth, look-and-guess method of spelling, which I can assure you my children have passed through, where they say 'What's that? What's that? What's that?', Cuisenaire, and audio-lingualism, of which I can speak with great experience, and whose effect, I may say, has been disastrous. All anti-intellectual, all opposed to cultivating the mind by creating a store of ordered knowledge, all opposed to pointing out what order there is, for there is order, and all inefficient.
Behind these approaches and methods I have named, there are certain basic attitudes which belong to the Department or to some members of the Department, and which are apparently the official view of the Department.
There is an unreasoned aversion for learning by rote. Why? The Department states at the same time, within a few lines of this, that education should be a preparation for life. But everyone, except some educationists, knows that learning by rote is part and parcel of life, the most efficient method known to man of absorbing a large amount of data. The Boeing 747 pilot learns his cockpit drill by rote, the doctor learns his anatomy by rote, the engine-driver learns his signals and operations by rote, by heart, nobody seems to know where the word 'rote' comes from. Why cannot Johnny enjoy the right of access to knowledge by learning by rote? Only educationists will deny him it. Their answer will be 'because he has to be taught how to think'. But you know, 'how to think' consists of a very few simple rules for handling data. The rules are not complicated, philosophers have defined them. It is the data Johnny needs, and he has not got them.
The same pathological aversion for grammar: (except, thank goodness, for the Minister). You learn your language by using it, they say. Yes, you do. But you can end up with the crudest, bluntest instrument of communication possible, unless you learn at the same time how it works, all its resources, all its mechanisms. If your environment is uneducated, you will learn its crude, blunt instrument of expression; if your environment is educated, you will lose -- lose -- some of the sharpness of its means of expression. History shows, quite clearly I think, that no finely developed language is automatically self-perpetuating. The best southern English is maintained by the best traditional education. If I may be permitted to take an example from history. The whole history of Romania, of that part of the world controlled by Rome, is an illustration of what happened to Latin, which very rapidly, when all the organisation of the empire broke down, disintegrated into mutually unintelligible dialects which grew even smaller in their area of application until not only was Spain quite unable to understand Rumania, but Italy was unable to understand Southern France, and finally little bits of one country could not understand other little bits of the same country. Of course I am simplifying, but it is since the advent of a literary standard and of schools that these languages have once more become sophisticated, sharp instruments of expression of our culture. Through education in language. Through linguistic analysis.
... I believe we owe it to every one of the underprivileged, and I mean mainly the linguistically underprivileged, to give them the means to distinguish between 'He done real good' and 'He did really well'. Whatever educationists may say to this, that grammar will not transfer, let us not believe them. It will transfer. It won't transfer of course if Johnny goes home to a milieu where they all say 'He done real good', but it will transfer if all our schools begin to teach all our Johnnies how to speak so that the uneducated environment becomes diluted with culture. We will soon have an instrument which is not as blunt as that which produces 'He done real good'. 'He did real good', of course means something to us. I hope I can sometimes do real good. But it does not mean the same to an uneducated person. Communication is impeded, although my example of course is rather special.
What is education for, inter alia, if it is not to remove such barriers to communication created by ignorance of the structure of educated English. Let us give all our children every help possible in communication by showing them the orderly structure of language. Make them aware of language, of the tool and expression of thought. Teach them words and notions by reading books, not writing their own juvenile creations.
You know, there is something cynical about people who say it does not matter how you spell or how you write. Something cynical, because they are people in high places and they know very well that they would never have arrived in these places, if they had been unable to write and speak correctly, and they know jolly well that for the whole foreseeable future of Johnny, it will matter, fundamentally.
And finally, and now I speak as a University teacher of languages, make it possible for some of them to become outstanding students of languages and humanities in general.
... The same pathological aversion for competition. No examinations. As the Department says, better a purely relative assessment of an individual's progress than an objective assessment of an individual's knowledge. Examine a child's progress, not his achievement in scholarship. What of the preparation for life of which the Department speaks? Is the Jumbo jet pilot fit for flying because he knows more of his cockpit drill than the last time, or the surgeon fit to operate because he is making progress in this or that? Life needs knowledge and skills, not relative individual progress.
But apart from examinations, how can the systematic elimination of all forms of competition be a preparation for life, let alone an incentive for learning? I understood we still lived in a society in which there was still some competition. The answer to this conundrum, of course, will be found in the ideology of New Educators, who as we shall see are not preparing children for our kind of society.
Finally let me mention the laborious assignment method. One word as a father who has slaved over assignments for many years. I have done projects on dairy farms in Denmark, dairy farms in Queensland, dairy farms in the Western District. I am not an expert on dairy farms, but I am an expert on drawing and illustrating them. In addition, my children, even the most ignorant, are all expert commercial artists. Assignments no doubt have great value, but let us remember how time-consuming they are.
... And so we often find our children poorly taught, deprived of the incentive to learn, and sometimes ready to give up trying and misbehave. They are too often bored and frustrated. Naturally, not in all schools, but already in too many. And often the rot has already set in by the end of primary school, when the child is already conscious of his inadequacy. Why were they not shown how much order there is in this universe? Children love order, and too often we have only given them disorder. Why are they not set objective goals to compete for against others? Why is there nothing that really counts much before HSC, when they get into the big school? They are not dupes, they know what internal examinations often mean. They are adrift, and soon, if they come up against a subject or a master who demands hard detailed study, they rebel. Anyone who is in close contact with schools knows that it is becoming increasingly difficult to interest pupils in the amassing of detailed data required by some of the traditional subjects. Our children know little, they are set no goals. And when HSC goes, as promised by the Minister, it will soon be chaos. I may be totally wrong, but I don't think so.
I have been accused of 'coining a tag'. I have not had that honour. I have been told 'there is no such thing as the New Education'. Well, I picked the title certainly among many I could have chosen because it is current in American literature and because it is on the lips of millions of American parents. And I defined the thing. It is not the title adopted by the devotees, its exponents, certainly, who are very wary about adopting any name since the debacle suffered by Dewey's 'Progressive Education', which is now, I would say, under that name completely discredited. But here it is, coming back, and back under some new name. I picked a name that was convenient for me, and I defined the thing; it is the thing that is important and I could have called it 'Relevant-Creative-Non-Classroom-Situation-Education'. but I chose the 'New Education', and the Department, I may add, after saying 'no such thing exists' spends the whole of the article defending it and saying that it is better than the old. So there you are.
And this brings me to the second of my points. For our children coming up from primary school, ignorant and conscious of their ignorance, are invited to enjoy the latest of all the pernicious imported educational innovations: the New Education. The point was, in so many words, that the New Education, with its rejection of the basic disciplines in favour of sociologically 'relevant' topics on the one hand, and individual juvenile 'creativity' on the other hand, would deal the death blow to education.
.... The relevant and the creative: With the poorest store of basic knowledge imaginable, in many cases, our children are invited to discuss what they would see on television anyway: education, television, apartheid, aboriginal rights, social injustice and inequality, conservation, pollution, women's lib., abortion, premarital intercourse or vice versa, drugs, sex, etc. in a core of subjects which replaces history, geography, English; not quite yet mathematics, but physics and chemistry are being also rapidly 'relevantised', so that we have pupils who have never heard of H2SO4 busily engaged in making an ecological study of their environment. We must not be surprised if some of their conclusions are erroneous, for one cannot study the environment without basic chemical and physical data any more than one can solve contemporary social problems without basic facts and historical perspective.
And yet how difficult it is becoming to interest them in data-amassing subjects. They are restive before all that store of knowledge that once distinguished an educated man from an uneducated one. They are restive before all the data of the physical sciences even. But they are creative. They make films, they write novels although they have not read any. As for the lower school, they may create or do anything. See the way to learn English as described in the Age supplement.
They also have, along with discussions and assignments on relevant subjects, and the creation of juvenile art -- and this comes up from primary school and goes into the physical sciences as well -- what you might call 'smorgasbord learning'. The classroom situation is replaced, and from the tenderest years pupils are invited to help themselves to knowledge of all kinds much like children serving themselves from a smorgasbord table -- this is wonderful in theory, and disastrous in practice.
All of the New Education is the same. It would be good if it worked, but it doesn't. The New Educator's favourite expression is 'There is no evidence to suggest'. Well, there is; all the evidence in the world, if one is willing to look. Many educationists have findings other than those of the New Educators. There are even plenty of authors who know that grammar is indispensable. And there are millions of parents in the Western world who do not need any further evidence to prove to them that New Education is simply more of the old Dewey rubbish. The New Education does not work. At least as far as scholarship goes.
And this brings me to my third point: indoctrination. The third point was that the New Education, with its inherent tendency to place contentious social issues together with suggested solutions before uneducated minds, had opened the way for indoctrination of our children and the consequent subversion of democracy.
The ideology behind the New Education is that the imparting of knowledge, the cultivation of scholarship, of the intellect, must take second place to the transforming, the regenerating of society. Back in the twenties, the socialist Dewey of 'Progressive Education' had talked of adapting children to society, but this was only a front for his real aim, soon openly expressed, of adapting society through the children. The New Education is no different in this respect to Progressive Education. Everyone behind the New Education, the 'Relevant-Creative-Do-It-Yourself Education', talks of creating a new society through the children. If there are some New Educators who are not trying to change children, I have not met them, and they are dupes. But the devotees are pursuing aims going far beyond the imparting of knowledge.
Some are quite frank. They are training for revolution. Others are training for quickened evolution. All have some Utopia in mind, some a Marxist millenium, some a Garden of Eden, some an anarchist paradise, where all are equal, all are deprived of nothing, and all are free to do as they please. All, even the most discreet, are willing to express their condemnation of our present society. Even in the Age supplement you will find, alongside a quotation or two from Dewey, one of the favourite myths of the New Educators, coming all the way down from Rousseau in the 18th century: the myth of the purity and wisdom of youth, and the corruption and stupidity of adult society. All of them are anti-intellectual in the sense that they are not interested in cultivating the intellect. None of them would claim to be experts in a particular discipline.
In Victoria, according to the Minister and the Director-General, source of most innovations and the New Education is the Curriculum Advisory Board, of thirty-five members, most of whose work is according to the same source carried out by a Steering Committee of ten. I have received a roneoed or carbon -- not a printed -- copy of the list of members of this Steering Committee, and found that the list is twenty not ten, the explanation given being that there are co-opted members from experimental schools, etc.
These people consist of two Department Directors, four Education Research Officers or Assistants, one psychologist, four university educationists, and nine teachers. Or something very like that. These are the faceless people, and I call them faceless advisedly, because they are virtually unknown to all the parents whose children are going to be fundamentally, one is tempted to say monumentally, affected by their decisions, who have introduced the New Education into our schools. There is no representative of the community at large, and as far as I know, no leading practitioner of a traditional discipline. They are all educationists, and some of them appear to be self-styled. Some of them, perhaps the most active, are true devotees of the New Education in the sense that they fully share the ideologies I have just mentioned.
We should therefore not be surprised that they recommend such things as absolutely no competition in school life. As devotees of the New Education they are not preparing for an open society of free competition. They are preparing for a socialist society of some kind. Certainly not a capitalist society. Certainly not the kind of society I myself happen -- just happen -- to want my child to grow up into. And yet they have charge of my child. I am not complaining about this vision of a new society at all, I am simply complaining at the way they are going about bringing it into being. At least one of the members sees the products of Victorian education as an intellectual proletariat and a revolutionary vanguard.
Where are the scholars thinking of scholarship on this committee, whether they are New Educators or not? If one thinks that I am exaggerating, and that our Education Department cannot contain such non-conformist elements, let us remember that sixty-three members of the Psychology and Guidance Branch have publicly expressed their admiration of that little Marxist-Anarchist manual for combating bourgeois values and authority, and doing, before you are in your teens if you like, anything you damn well please. Some psychologists! Some guides!
On the Steering Committee, there is not one representative of the community at large, although there are senior members of the Department, with whom I have no quarrel, except insofar as they have fostered the New Education. And yet these people, neither leading scholars, apparently, nor representative citizens, but so-called educational experts, are introducing radical curricular innovations which are fundamentally affecting the lives and destinies of our children, and the whole future of our country. These faceless people have usurped the role of legislators.
We thought the destiny of our children and our country depended on our democratic vote. These legislators, it is true, can only advise. And they are, under the eyes of a democratically-elected Minister. Are we to take it then that the New Education represent the considered policy of the Government? If so, parents, I am sure, had no idea they had given this mandate.
This Committee, can only advise, for in the new organisation of education in our State, schools and individual teachers can practically do what they please. However some of the New Educators are already turning out teachers especially trained to indoctrinate.
'The politicisation of education' is a respectable slogan in some quarters in which teachers are trained. And here I shall stop because I can go no further without names. But I can assure you we have documents which validate such a mild statement. And these teachers, and any others who wish to indoctrinate, will soon be producing the uneducated but indoctrinated minds of which I have spoken in ever-increasing numbers.
Disciplinary troubles will certainly multiply in schools and, in particular, political agitation will increase as more and more politicised young teachers join forces with more and more politicised pupils. I am looking to the future and hoping we can avoid such developments, but we already have such things as this -- the students' Bill of Rights (just some of an enormous amount of New and Old Left literature found around schools). We already have head masters afraid to act because of organised student retaliation. And let us not think that they are not organised by adults. It will soon be too late to stop all this.
The fourth point is that children are already, because of the present system of no prescribed curriculum, no syllabus, no inspection (although there remains a vestige of the former inspectoral structure), no examination, entirely in the hands of the individual teachers. The teacher may be, like most present teachers, a good, competent, conscientious person who teaches proper subjects. But the system allows him to be incompetent or lazy or unmoral or a complete political brainwasher. As far as I can see there is no real check on the teacher's freedom until a situation becomes so intolerable that there is a direct confrontation with the Department or the law.
And this, we say again, is scandalous. Millions of dollars of public money are being provided to let someone teach your child almost anything he may think fit. This is not a proper system of public education. We already have plenty of evidence concerning some of the things already being taught. And the New Education is only just beginning.
We believe that the scandal of this position is only equalled by the fact that the paper qualifications and assessments of our children, as well as any unofficial assessments given verbally, are also in the hands of an individual or individuals closely connected with the child in question. Not only does this sometimes place an intolerable burden on the teacher, but children know that many of these certificates are not worth the paper they are written on. When HSC suffers the fate of all other external examinations, our children will know then that our generation has finally thrown them to the wolves of non-education. Chaos, I believe, will result.
We therefore reiterate our request for an inquiry. Without presuming to anticipate the outcome of any inquiry, we believe one or two things can be stated.
We believe that there must be some form of external assessment, as stated in my article, but we believe that we may not have to go back to the old system. Would it not be possible for those who have chosen to do tertiary studies to choose HSC and go straight through to it, according to prescribed curricula and syllabuses; and for those who wish to leave school earlier,, to choose a lower examination? When the latter leave, for further studies or not, they will have a certificate that everybody knows is worth something, and they will have had motivation in attaining it.
There are other alternatives. Let us look at them and be open to change. But we cannot leave the assessment of a child's performance to the school itself.
But there is a basic principle which we think must be considered in the organisation of education. It is that the control of education should be placed essentially in the hands of a board immediately answerable to the Minister and consisting essentially of representatives of the community and representatives and experts of the various disciplines. The educationists are there for research, advice and training, but let us make sure that our education system is kept out of the hands of the behavioural and social scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, political scientists, etc.
We must have machinery to see that no experimentation is undertaken which does not have large a priori chances of success. One does not cut a man's head off to see if he will grow another. There are experiments going on throughout Victoria, such as the one in the Age supplement (which I do not hesitate to call unmitigated balderdash) which would never have got down to the level of our children if minds other than those of New Educators had examined them, if a board had brought to bear upon them all those considerations which should be brought to bear on any radical form of experimentation. We are dealing with children and not guinea-pigs, and it does not matter whether nine schools or ninety schools are concerned. Each child has only one life and its education should be sacrosanct.
Finally, and we believe that this would automatically ensue from any reorganisation of education along the lines suggested, we must all be ready, all of us who boast of how open we are to change, to be prepared to change back, back to something we once did before, if therein lies the solution to our problems.
We do not think that things will get better overnight. We are very conscious of having simplified at many points, of having ignored some of the pressures of our society. But we are also conscious that some of the worst pressures on our families are coming from the schools, and will come from them more and more unless we act now. The generation gap is being widened by education.
*This chapter comprises three parts. The first originally appeared in the Melbourne Herald, 22 May 1972, and the second is a sequel from the Herald, 22 June 1972. The third part is part of the text of a talk (an address given at a Melbourne University Graduate Union luncheon, 5 July 1972) that offers rebuttals of criticisms provoked by the two articles.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Chapter 49 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974
[Note: This chapter is to some extent a sequel to Chapter 48]
The Case for Examinations
By F.P. JUST
Until a few decades ago it was a pedagogical truism that, when courses of instruction were given in any field of knowledge, the pupils were examined to see whether they had absorbed the required amount of such knowledge. Pupils and master alike accepted this procedure, whether the pupils were trainee nurses, doctors, pilots or plumbers, or simply primary or secondary schoolchildren. It seemed a reasonable procedure, although everyone knew that it was not perfect, that one could be lucky or unlucky with the choice of questions, or have a bad or a good day in one's attempts to answer them. Nevertheless, except for odd surprises, it was a procedure which rewarded with a high mark or a pass the pupils who were knowledgeable, and awarded a low mark or a fail to those who were ignorant. It even rewarded those who worked as opposed to those who loafed.
All in all, academic justice -- the recognition of merit according to knowledge-seemed to be done, and at the same time an appropriate level of knowledge was maintained in the subject.
It all seemed so simple, and to many, indeed, I believe, to most people it still does seem simple: the most satisfactory procedure in a field in which we all know that infallibility can never be attained although it must always be pursued. It seemed equally self-evident that when secondary pupils were to leave school, whether to go into employment or on to higher studies, public examinations should be held at the end of prescribed courses of study, a procedure which would pursue on a general community scale the same two ends: academic justice and proper academic standards.
But as everywhere in education over the last few decades, the behavioural and social scientists, both professional and amateur, and radical social reformers, have challenged what seemed simple and self-evident. Those of us who have taken examinations for granted now find ourselves called upon to justify our viewpoint in detailed argument, not because we have doubts ourselves, but because we feel that if we do not painstakingly assert the obvious, the most militant section of the Education Establishment will succeed in implementing the absurd.
The chief arguments of those who oppose examinations -- and for clarity's sake I shall be referring henceforth mainly to public examinations, for once these are abolished it will matter little what types of evaluation procedure remain in schools -- derive essentially from their view of education in general, so that the role of examinations must necessarily involve a discussion, however brief, of the role of education.
Let me say right from the beginning that there are many teachers who, whilst still holding a traditional view of education, nevertheless have some doubts as to the value of examinations. It is these teachers, mostly young men and women who have seen examinations deprecated by every Teachers' College and Education Faculty lecturer they have ever met, whom I would like so dearly to persuade that their task, already so arduous in contemporary schools, only remains fruitful and rewarding by virtue of the residual examination structure which persists, whom I would like to 'decondition', in order to spare them some of the worst excesses of the American education scene; for as with practically all our pedagogical innovations, with the abolition of examinations we shall simply be taking one more step along the sorry path already trodden by American High Schools .
The opponents of examinations are in general the opponents of the traditional idea that the core of education must be the imparting and acquiring of knowledge, and more specifically of knowledge within the basic disciplines, which for clarity's sake I shall list: mathematics, mother-tongue and its literature, foreign languages, physical and biological sciences, history and geography. At the lower level, these disciplines become basically the three R's, at the upper level they become the disciplines associated with tertiary education. In the secondary school, with which I am primarily concerned in this article, they are essentially as listed.
For some decades now, 'progressive' or 'modern' educationists have spoken of 'child-centred' education, a rather improper term, since from one point of view education has always been child-centred, inasmuch as its aim has always been to inculcate something into the child, and it has always needed children for its existence. But the term is used to characterise the recent resurgence of concentration on developing 'the whole child', on achieving 'self-fulfilment', 'self-realisation', whatever that may mean (see Camus's Caligula) and the term is usually contrasted with 'subject-centred' education. The contrast may perhaps be made clearer by speaking of education centred on the developing of personality, as opposed to education centred on the imparting of knowledge, with personality development playing a subsidiary role, at least in terms of school hours. The sugar-coating for this anti-intellectual pill of 'progressive' educators is sometimes provided by the claim that they are teaching children 'how to think', and they delight in measuring this alleged faculty as much as they shrink from measuring what the children actually know . Hence the proliferation of 'intelligence' and 'aptitude' tests in modern education.
Although the current wave of 'child-centred' education may be said to stem from John Dewey's 'progressive' education which started in America as far back as the twenties, it has reached its peak in Australia in the seventies, when to the voice of 'progressive' educationists calling aloud for the adaptation of the child to society and thinking often of the transformation of society through the child has been added the clamour of educational activists frankly demanding that society should be radically and rapidly changed through education.
Whatever the shades of political opinion of these New Educationists whose voice is dominant in the present strident call for radical curriculum reform, and even for complete transformation or elimination of schools, whether their dream is of a Marxist millenium or a hippiesque Utopia, they are one in their rejection of the imparting of knowledge as the core of education, one in their adoption of the moulding of personality as the main purpose of education .
The most rabidly political of these educational reformers wish to indoctrinate and manipulate children, but even the apparently apolitical aspire to create new human psyches which will differ from the allegedly bruised, frustrated, undeveloped personalities which belong to the 'employment fodder' at present being produced by our traditional schools.
And so self-fulfilment, self-realisation, which many of us, insofar as we think the term has any meaning, would believe cannot be achieved without cultivation of intellect, is in fact opposed by all New Educators to intellect, cultivation of the personality is contrasted with acquisition of knowledge. The aim of education has become, when it is not frankly political, alleged individual psychological well-being, interpreted of course according to the ideological bent of the individual teacher. If knowledge counts at all it will not be the basic data of recognised disciplines, but the generalities, some of them extremely contentious, of so-called 'relevant' topics .
With their view of education in general, it is of course quite logical that the New Educators should look askance at all forms of examination. If one does not believe in the acquiring of knowledge as the core of education, one will not believe in testing whether knowledge has been acquired. But let us watch one of the modern theorists take this logical step for us, this time in relation to universities (sic!). In a special pamphlet entitled "Abolish Exams" a spokesman for the SRC (Students' Representative Council) Exam Reform Group begins his argument with a quotation from the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in which we see the familiar link with 'relevance' and the individual personality, a link which would transform the university from a seat of learning into a creche for identity-seekers: 'Knowledge and intellectual practice must be made directly relevant to the human need of the troubled person of the twentieth century, and to the social practices of the citizen ... what the university ought to do for the individual is to turn personal troubles and concerns into social issues and rationally open problems.' Then he continues with a qqotation from the "Exam Resisters' Manifesto" which runs: 'We believe that university education in its broadest sense should have as its aim to instil within each individual a capacity for analysis, criticism, creativity and feeling such that he may use these capacities throughout his life in order to develop and fulfil his own self to the limit of his own potential for the benefit of humankind.'
Immediately after this quotation, conspicuous for the absence of any reference to objective knowledge , the spokesman says: 'We therefore see any type of formal assessment as irreconcilable with this aim. To speak of the calculation, quantification and measurement of one's personal development is nonsense. It can be measured or felt only by the individual.' Is it being facetious to ask the reader whether for instance he would like to be operated upon by any self-fulfilled individual who feels he is a doctor?
Before we leave the argument that examinations are invalid because they cannot measure self-fulfilment, an argument which of course is seldom formulated as baldly as in the preceding paragraph but which invariably underlies 'progressive' educators' aversion for examinations, let us remember that this aversion is also the corollary of their global rejection of any form of competition among the children they are preparing for their Utopia. Examinations are seen as an extreme form of competition, and competition will have no place in a future society founded on the brotherhood of self-fulfilled man.
It is doubtless the deprecation and depreciation of scholarship by 'progressive' educationists over several decades which have provided the necessary conditioning for the other main arguments used by opponents of examinations, including those who are not ostensibly committed to the New Education in all its other facets.
Entities such as the Australian Council for Educational Research, one of the most constant and clamorous of 'anti-examinists', support the argument that examinations, with their prescribed curricula and syllabuses, remove all 'flexibility and diversity' from secondary schooling, a superficially plausible claim (or verbal formula) which, however, the facts of the situation only allow to be interpreted as a demand -- not very different from that of blatant 'self-fulfilment' educationists -- to go far beyond the present wide range of alternatives available to pupils and reduce the teaching of basic subjects to a level far below what most people would consider proper for a secondary education. Acceptance of this argument, just as much as acceptance of the complete 'self-fulfilment' thesis, would no doubt open the flood-gates to all the 'relevant' subjects, from pollution to sex, which have made a mockery of so much of American education.
One wonders indeed whether one is not making a purely illusory distinction between the New Education extremists and other proponents of the 'freedom of teaching' argument, when one reads the following extract from the Queensland 'Radford' report, a plea for 'freedom' which could well serve as the manifesto of the New Education:
Because the external examination requires that students be prepared for a particular kind of examination on a particular syllabus and at a particular time, it discourages experiment and innovation. It prevents many teachers from developing different and perhaps better ways of presenting their subjects to students. Subject matter could be reorganised to suit differing needs, present subjects could be integrated, and new subjects and new courses could be introduced much more readily if the external examination were not there.
It is not an easy matter for a teacher required to present students for the examination to develop different and perhaps exciting new methods, or to alter the emphasis on the content of his subject, or to spend time on aspects of the subject that will not be examined. Nor is it easy for the school to integrate subjects when there are separate examinations. For example, when there are separate examinations in History, Geography and Social Studies it is difficult for a school to undertake a study of, say, Community Development, in which aspects of all these subjects could be drawn upon; a study of Control of Environment could call upon insight and content drawn from, at least, Science, Economics, and Geography. We have no doubt that given the possibility of making their own assessments, teachers with undoubted talent will use the greater freedom school-based assessment gives them to provide a better education for all their students. We believe that the present system leads to a loss of enthusiasm and of initiative in some young and able teachers.
External examination is not appropriate to activities which schools either undertake or would like to undertake -- for example, craftwork, field studies, school music, drama or physical education. Nor is it possible for an external examination to assess many of the objectives that parents and teachers believe the schools are intended to develop -- for example, acceptable social and moral attitudes, the ability to work independently, or the habit and skills of critical enquiry.
We know that some schools and some teachers, despite the external examination and its requirements, have been able to devote some time to these unexamined objectives and activities. We believe, however, that most schools and teachers would spend more time and effort on working towards such efforts if there were no external examination. We are convinced that this would mean a better education for most children.
Because it emphasises examinable material in a range of subjects, the external examination prevents schools from preparing many students as effectively as they would like to, for their life in society.
('Public Examinations for Queensland Secondary School Students,' Queensland Education Department, 1970).
After reading this single page of the so-called Radford report, with its reference to composite 'relevant' subjects (how does one 'draw upon' basic knowledge of subjects one has not studied?), to creativity, to innovating teachers, to social and not intellectual objectives, how can anyone seriously doubt that Queensland has not only abolished examinations, but at the same time instituted, lock, stock and barrel, the New Education, for if all these aims and activities are to be pursued to such an extent that examinations in basic knowledge would hinder them, then they constitute quite precisely the New Education. So much for this particular expression, at least, of the call for greater freedom in teaching. This page of the Radford report, so 'modern' in Australia, could well have been lifted from any of a dozen 'life-adjustment education' documents of the forties in America.!
Then there is the argument, adopted by Marxist opponents of examinations as well as by apparently less radical, that examinations are instruments of social injustice. Basing their theory on some rather shaky research findingss  in which injustice is largely measured by non-entry to university (so that the carpenter son of a carpenter is necessarily a deprived being in relation to the teacher son of a carpenter!), but also on the obvious observation that statistically speaking a bourgeois home is more conducive to scholarship than a proletariat one, they oppose examinations such as the Victorian HSC on the grounds that they favour pupils from middle-class homes.
This view is neatly summarised by the chief research officer of the Australian Council for Educational Research, who in speaking of the advantages of 'aptitude' tests (largely glorified 'intelligence' tests) says: 'The evidence so far, though limited, indicates that aptitude testing does not seem to have the same degree of bias as matriculation (HSC) in favouring children from any particular type of school or family background.' (Melbourne Herald, 9 October, 1972).
One can only admire the frankness of this educationist in revealing how class origin instead of knowledge is to become a criterion for academic qualification, but I cannot share his pleasure in having found a test that has no bias in favour of a good school. I shall refer later to this substitution of someone's idea of social justice for academic justice in the grading of pupils.
There is also the argument, adopted by all opponents of examinations, that there is individual injustice involved in the testing of a year's work, for instance, in a three-hours examination, an argument which no-one would deny has a certain amount of validity but which they tend to vitiate by expounding it as if knowledge were measured on some sort of time-scale, so that three hours could not possibly indicate the quality of the product of hundreds of hours' work.
Finally, there is the argument that examinations impose an intolerable strain on the pupil (see the view of the Victorian Minister for Education) . The research officer just quoted also expresses this view in the article cited, (Herald, 9 October 1972). It must be admitted, let me say in passing, that this argument is no longer as unimportant as it was, now that 'progressive' educationists have managed to protect their pupils from any form of serious assessment until they suddenly find themselves as sensitive late-teenagers doing their first examination at HSC level!
So much then for the main arguments of opponents of examinations. I have incorporated a certain amount of criticism in my survey of these arguments. Some of them, I believe, are self-condemnatory for most people, but they will all be clearly refuted, I trust, in the remainder of this article, in which I shall endeavour to present a strong positive case for the retention of public examinations and the rejection both of internal examinations and of qualification and selection procedures other than tests of acquired knowledge in prescribed fields of study.
May I once more remind the reader that the question of examinations has ramifications throughout the whole field of educational debate, so that I must necessarily argue succinctly; nevertheless, I believe that one can adduce correct principles even in the space available.
This restriction is at its most obvious when one has to posit in a few lines that the main concern of education must be the imparting and acquiring of knowledge, that whatever values teachers may, wittingly or unwittingly, legitimately or illegitimately, inculcate into children, the core of schooling must be the furnishing of the young mind with the store of facts, data, information, which alone will give him the competence and confidence to perform adequately all that he is called upon to do in the world about him. Basically, before specialisation, education must give every young mind the power to communicate (listen, speak, read, write) reasonably well, calculate reasonably well, and see the world with reasonable historical, geographic and scientific perspective.
'Knowledge for its own sake', an ideal propounded two and half millenia ago, is a dictum that most scientists and scholars, and indeed most people, will deem at least worthy of consideration. But there is no need to assert this ideal in order to believe that knowledge at an adequate level is the sine qua non not only of the health of the individual but of the well-being of the nation. An individual's sense of adequacy comes above all from a feeling of being competent in areas of basic knowledge; a nation's very survival may depend on its common store of knowledge or the knowledge of its best trained minds. No society is conceivable, in the near or remote future, without a high level of knowledge, if only on a technical level to provide such things as penicillin and Jumbo jets and anti-pollutants.
A thousand voices have expressed this truism in literature, but may I cite the words of a great English philosopher, A. N. Whitehead, words quoted by the present Federal Minister for Education in a splendid address to Convocation of the University of Melbourne on 7 May 1972: 'In the conditions of modern life, the rule is absolute: the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your will, not all your victories on land and sea, can move back the finger of fate.'
And so, I repeat, for the sake of both the individual and society, education must be chiefly concerned with knowledge. We must dismiss the claims of 'progressive' educationists who wish to concentrate on moulding personalities at the expense of forming intellects or who wish to study 'exciting', 'relevant' topics at the expense of basic disciplines. We must also dismiss the claims of Marxists who proclaim that knowledge is dependent on ideology and who, themselves rigidly governed by dogma, waste pupils' schooldays in intellectually sterile experiments conceived with the ridiculous aim of imparting ideology-free knowledge, as if the answer to seven times four varied according to whether one lived under Hitler, Stalin or Mr Whitlam. (One would have thought that the Lysenko episode would have cured Marxists of this kind of thinking).
All the foregoing is a necessary preamble to any discussion of the role of examinations, because it is quite obvious that the case for testing acquired knowledge rests on the basic assumption that knowledge is the chief commodity in which education deals.
Examinations -- and I mean public examinations of acquired knowledge -- play two main roles in education. The first is to see that academic justice is done and is seen to be done; that is to say, to grade candidates in order of merit according to their attainment within the given field of knowledge or subject. The public nature of the examination is indispensable in order to ensure maximum objective evaluation and ranking, not only as between pupils of the one school, where individual personal considerations may otherwise produce bias, but above all as between schools, where wide variations in standards may otherwise occur.
Internal examinations, regarded by most pupils in most schools as derisory, are inherently unable to play this role, and perpetrate gross infringements of academic justice on individual pupils, whose merit may be enormously inflated because they hold a certificate from an elite school, or enormously deflated because they hold a certificate from a humble High School. Or vice versa, because with schools reputation does not always correspond to reality. No amount of 'moderation' such as it is practised in Queensland can ever do anything other than statistically gloss over individual academic injustices. I submit that no society can tolerate this assessment of pupils by individual teachers in a close relationship with candidates, and that no parent should accept it, for from this academic injustice flow immense intellectual harm to the nation and gross social injustice to the individual.
In relation to the other aspect of public examinations: that they measure acquired knowledge, that is to say actual achievement and not some amateur or professional behavioural scientist's notion of potential, most people will not need the testimony of those of us who have taught under the heinous 'eleven plus' system in England, to reject the idea that children should be assessed and graded according to some nebulous criterion called intelligence, which is supposed to be the index of some equally nebulous criterion called potential, which in turn may or may not be realised in some nebulous future. They will also reject 'aptitude' tests for they have learned that with these they are still being deluded with the psychopedagogue's same old notion of unrealised potential. They will prefer the notion of academic justice, which by definition is based on the criterion of actual knowledge, on the belief that mathematicians should be graded according to their performance in mathematics, physicists according to their performance in physics, linguists according to their performance in languages, etc.
And they will prefer a system whereby a hard-working but not so 'intelligent' child can obtain distinction just as much as or more than a lazy but 'intelligent' one, knowing full well that if a so-called 'intelligent' child is not realising his or her 'potential' by the age of sixteen or seventeen, the chances are that he or she will never overtake the diligent 'plodder'.
Furthermore, I believe, and I have already mentioned this aspect, that most people realise that in our fallible world the three-hour examination, with or without some minor adjuncts, is the least fallible of instruments for dispensing academic justice, that the particular performance of candidates during these three hours is, generally speaking, satisfactorily indicative of their knowledge in the subject, in other words that 'performance' equals 'attainment'. Certainly, there is no conceivable better alternative, except, of course, a series of such examinations, which would hardly be palatable for most pupils .
Finally, one must answer the objection that examinations such as HSC perpetuate social injustice in that they favour middle-class candidates. (It may well be found that they favour or disfavour Protestant or Catholic candidates, new rich or old rich, socialist homes or capitalist homes, and even independent schools or State schools, and it will certainly be found that some migrant children are disfavoured, particularly if they cannot speak English, in the same way as I would be if I tried to pass the Lithuanian HSC ). This objection has assumed its most flamboyant and absurd form in the proposal by a Victorian secondary teachers' union that selection for universities should be by ballot (sic!), a proposal which would be comical if, in the present educational climate, it did not have a slight chance of being implemented, thus wreaking untold havoc in scholarship and social well-being.
I submit, and I believe that most people would agree, that such social considerations must never be allowed to interfere with the dispensation of academic justice, that is to say, the recognition of merit by attainment, and are the province, not of examiners, nor even exclusively of educationists, but of broad socio-political decisions made by governments. If indeed social classes are being disadvantaged, it is the governments' task to take whatever measures, some of them pedagogical, are feasible to bring the members of such classes up to academic standard, not in any way to interfere with the examining process .
So much then for the first main role of examinations, which is to ensure that trading in the principal commodity of education is fair. The second main role, and if anything it is more important than the first, is to ensure that the quality of this commodity is maintained whilst individual justice is being done, that is to say, that knowledge within schools and thence throughout the community is maintained at an adequate level.
Again internal examinations, no matter what 'monitoring' or 'accediting' systems one may have, are no substitute for public examinations in this role, and again we find them derided by pupils and teachers alike because of the passes they have seen awarded to candidates of abysmal ignorance . By chance I have before me now an analysis of some French results for a dozen schools which shows a pass rate for internal Leaving candidates of about ninety-five per cent whilst the external HSC pass rate for the same classes the following year, i.e. the same pupils less those who had dropped French, is less than sixty per cent.
This role of maintaining quality of scholarship, based essentially on the fact that assessment is in the hands of the best available scholars in the field of knowledge, acting as independent and hence impartial judges of the whole range of candidates, extends far beyond the immediate examination at which candidates below a certain level of attainment are rejected, it bears upon the whole primary and secondary process, stimulating both teachers and pupils to the effort required for adequate achievement. It is no reflection on the conscientiousness and competence of the average teacher to say that no internal evaluation system can replace this motivation from without, for in no other profession is one so completely at the mercy of an inefficient or deviant colleague, or of course recalcitrant children.
This role, it should be noted, can only be played effectively if the examinations are in fact examinations of acquired knowledge in precise fields of study, and not the glorified 'intelligence' tests which ignore the fruits of application and memorisation and neither measure nor promote scholarship .
I suggest that the effect of external examinations in this role of maintaining scholarship is such that their abolition would mean the beginning of a rapid decline in the intellectual life of our community. Most countries have realised the importance of this role, and those that have already abolished the equivalent of HSC have found, or I believe, will soon find, that their universities or tertiary colleges have to assume much of the work previously accomplished by secondary schools, that is to say, have registered a pronounced fall in standards. An eminent American professor of History, Arthur Bestor in his book (The Restoration of Learning, New York, 1955) summarises the position in his country thus:
'The retreat from rigorous examinations has become a disastrous rout in American public education. College and university faculties must take the lead in re-establishing comprehensive, essay-type examinations as the basic means of evaluating educational preparation and measuring educational achievement. The obvious place to start is in connection with admission to college, for an alarming decline in the standards of American higher education can be attributed to the gradual abandonment of searching and effective entrance examinations. Professional educationists seem to prefer aptitude tests to examinations that show how much a student knows and what he is capable of doing with his knowledge. But a college needs students who are not merely apt but well trained, if it is to be an institution of higher learning. It requires students who can write the English language clearly and effectively, not merely those with a potentiality for literary expression. It requires students who are prepared to solve mathematical problems, not merely those with a latent talent for mathematical abstraction. It requires students who can sit down and read a book in a foreign language, not merely those who would find it easy to learn a language if they had a chance. It requires students who have fundamental knowledge in history or chemistry, which can be built upon in advanced courses, not merely students who will prove apt at acquiring such knowledge when at last they are introduced to it.
Professional educationists can be expected to object violently to the re-establishment of stringent college entrance examinations.' (pp. 341-342)
The author goes on to say 'that the first two years of college constituted for most students not higher education but secondary-school work.' (p. 346). He then proceeds to argue strenuously the case for 'the development of uniform examinations throughout the public-school system' (p. 353), outlining an examination structure similar to the one which our Australian educationists are about to throw out. But readers should study the whole chapter entitled 'Re-establish Standards through Examinations' of this brilliant and scholarly appraisal of American education, indeed they are recommended to read the whole book.
It is this inevitable decline in standards that makes it desirable, indeed indispensable, to maintain the dual role of HSC as both secondary terminal examination and university entrance examination, whilst not precluding the possibility of having other examinations at lower levels. It will be a sorry day for scholarship if those educationists who complain of the oppressive, restrictive influence of the university on curricula and syllabuses (as if seats of higher learning can be said to oppress and restrict seats of lower learning) have their way, and secondary education is totally divorced from tertiary. Then, not only will universities be forced, as in America, to waste a lot of their time and effort on courses of secondary standard, but the influence of the best trained minds will be removed from the whole field of secondary education, which will find itself completely at the mercy of the pedagogical 'expert'. HSC is the vital link between the university and the schools which ensures the continuity of scholarship and the transmission of discovery throughout our society. We must not allow the pedagogue to cut it .
To dispense academic justice, to maintain academic quality. Public examinations are said to have a third role: to predict success in tertiary studies. This, of course, they cannot do any more successfully than common sense would allow us to assume. They record present achievement in particular subjects, they register that a candidate has reached a certain level in particular studies and is therefore to be considered presently qualified to undertake more advanced studies of the same or a similar nature. They do not predicate that such candidate will remain interested in his subject or work hard in his subject, any more than common sense would predicate that an exhaustive knowledge of Latin syntax would protect a student from the ravages of an unhappy love-affair, let alone an addiction to pot.
It would, of course, be disturbing to advocates of the retention of HSC if a better practical predictor of tertiary success were found. So far it has not (indeed HSC is a pretty good predictor when the higher marks are used), but even if it were, I believe it would be wrong to apply it unless it were essentially based on acquired knowledge, for not only would it be contrary to academic justice and harmful to scholarship, but the moment it was applied, secondary school conditions would thereby be so changed that it might no longer be a better predictor! Fortunately, the question is hypothetical and HSC remains the least fallible statistical indicator of how a student is likely to perform at the university.
Let me conclude by redressing any impression I might have created with my emphasis on intellect that I believe intellect to be the be-all and end-all of life, or indeed of education, or that I am advocating that we should all try to be ivory-tower scholars or great scientists, etc. The scholarship I have in mind will be the foundation, naturally, for a minority of such people, but it is essentially that basic knowledge without which no flowering of the personality is possible and which is the inalienable right of every young Australian. It is knowledge which extends, but not necessarily, up to HSC level; not necessarily, or even desirably in many cases, for there are many young people whose personality will flower only if they are not inexorably impelled towards matriculation and tertiary studies. But this is all the more reason for allowing them, whilst the more academic pupils perhaps move directly towards matriculation, to choose to sit for a lower external certificate which they and everyone else will know to be worth something and which will have provided motivation for their middle-school studies.
This is the level of scholarship I have been discussing at a time when everyone knows we are not suffering from a crisis of too much juvenile intellect, when lower and middle school pupils are frequently bored to tears as well as ignorant, when disciplinary troubles are beginning to multiply, for no personality flowers in boredom and ignorance  and when, with for instance Victorian HSC passing automatically four candidates out of five in each subject, it is possible for young ignoramuses to reach our universities.
But as so many of us teachers, parents and ordinary citizens know, these ignoramuses will be as sages compared with some of the products of our schools if 'progressive' educationists have their way and abolish the last curb on their aberrations: the HSC examination (or its equivalent in other States).
1. In Queensland, of course, it is too late, and the journey towards academic inferiority and injustice has begun.
2. Another piece of 'progressive' jargon heard in Teachers' Training Colleges, etc., is: 'We teach the child and not the subject', although one would expect from some of the Marxists a Hegelian: 'We teach the child the subject'!
3. This is so even when Marxists pretend that they are trying to impart knowledge without capitalist conditioning; their chief aim is still to create a non-capitalist society.
4. New educators never tire of formulating this opposition between the acquiring of knowledge within traditional disciplines and the changing of young human beings and society, so that one has difficulty in selecting quotations. However, choosing arbitrarily, I may quote a Marxist luminary in an Education Faculty who refers to Victorian pupils as an intellectually-trained proletariat and a revolutionary vanguard (Australian Capitalism, Pelican 1972, pp. 219-247), and who, whilst chiding some of his fellows on their 'happiness-is-all' approach and ostensibly pondering on how to teach without making 'the children subject to the tyranny of social systems, dominated by ideologies or systems of thought' (as if the formula for sulphuric acid or Mendelian heredity depended on ideology), nevertheless refers to the 'professional' teacher, the expert who is a specialist in his subject, as 'a kind of high-class prostitute', because he serves the system (Issues, Journal of T.T.A.V., Aug. 1972, pp. 4-5). Or another Marxist head of a Victorian teachers' union who, when speaking at the inaugural meeting of a Left Education Movement, used even more lapidary formulae, according to the report in the Communist weekly: 'Our aim is to destroy capitalist mis-education'. 'The basic task, to change the very nature of the school system, involves the development of a new set of values that puts humanity and the needs of the human being first.' He then went on to call for 'a genuine alliance between teachers and students' in a typical tirade designed to enlist the help of children in freeing education from 'the repressive nature of the State [bourgeois, capitalist] machine.' (Report in Tribune, 10-16 October 1972, of speech delivered at Melbourne University on 1 October 1972). But even the Victorian Education Department, in its official publication, The Primary School, 1970, in an Introduction in which the word 'change' appears at least ten times in twenty lines, does not hesitate to say: 'Indeed, instead of merely responding to social changes, teachers are in a position to bring about certain changes themselves -- they can become active agents in a continuing process.' If this is not an invitation to indoctrinate minors I do not know what is.
5. One may contrast this definition of the role of the university with that given by a Melbourne surgeon, Mr John Hayward, in Melbourne University Staff News, 14 July 1972: 'The only commodity in which a University deals is knowledge. The functions of a University are to impart knowledge right to its furthest frontiers (teaching) and to try to extend these frontiers (research)... The aims of a University should therefore be excellence in teaching and brilliance in research. These functions and corresponding aims are so simple and fixed that it is hard to see why any time should be wasted discussing them.'
6. For example, Tom Roper, The Myth o f Equality. Education Department, National Union of Australian University Students, 1970, in which failure to follow one's father's occupation and non-entry to university are used as the index of inequality and injustice, the crowning injustice being that sixty per cent of all entries in Who's Who have a tertiary education (sic!) (p. 22). It is not to depreciate the attention that such publications draw to inner-suburban school conditions, etc., to say that this is dubious sociology. See also W. C. Radford, School Leavers in Australia, A.C.E.R., Melbourne, 1962, and S. S. Dunn & P. J. Fensham, A Study of the Choice of Tertiary Education by 5th and 6th Form Males in Victoria, Monash University, Melbourne, 1969.
7. One is entitled to ask just what ideology is behind the official policy of the Victorian Education Department on examinations, as expressed in an interview granted to a Melbourne newspaper by the Minister for Education and his Director-General (Herald, 28 June 1972). Having quoted the general principle, established by the Curriculum Advisory Board, one of which is: 'There is no place for competitive assessment in the secondary school,' they give their respective opinions as follows: 'The Minister made it clear that, like the board, he does not believe in competitive examinations. "I would hope eventually to see the end of the Higher School Certificate examination," he said. There will always be same form of testing necessary. But there are logical objections to one pressure examination at the end of the year-even in sixth form. "I do not believe matriculation is essential. Assignments, oral testing, and regular tests through the year would be preferable." The Director-General is 'anti-examinations' too. 'We have reason to doubt the real educational value of a test which compares one pupil's attainment with that of another or with some arbitrarily chosen 'pass' level. Tests and assessments are better used to indicate a pupil's progress relative to his previous performance. This encourages him to maintain and increase his effort'. The Director-General also believes there is much more to school life than learning facts. "Schools should prepare pupils for life in our society," he said.'
Now I am not for the moment suggesting that either of these educationists is an adherent of the Rousseau-Marx-Dewey-Marcuse ideology behind the New Education, but I am suggesting that amongst the purely academic objections to examinations such as their unfairness, one finds clearly reflected the preoccupation with individual personality and social adaptation and the aversion for competition which belong to current educational orthodoxy, itself largely inspired by this ideology. One is at least entitled to ask how pupils can be prepared without competition for 'life in our society' where there is still, I believe, some competition -- pending the advent of the millenium.
8. The old system of supplementary examinations in February, before the days of university quotas, had much to recommend it, for it allowed candidates not only to improve their knowledge over the holidays, but to have a second chance to ensure that their particualr performance corresponded more exactly to their attainment. Perhaps two two-hour papers in basic subjects, when entry to university was sought, might be preferable to one three-hour.
9. May I remind readers at this point that the moment educators or examiners begin to try to dispense anything other than academic justice as defined, all sorts of arbitrary aberrations will be installed, with amateur or professional behavioural and social scientists quarrelling over such things as whether one should credit the ignorant child of a drunken worker and debit the knowledgeable child of a sober bourgeois, or vice versa, or even whether one should penalise a candidate for going to a good school. The only rational approach to such problems is, for the government to tackle the problem of culture-deprived homes, the problem of educating children from such homes, the problem of providing better teaching in underprivileged areas, etc.; it is not for examiners to deviate from the procedure of grading candidates according to their academic attainment.
10. Few educationists would dispute that American High School Diplomas are merely certificates of attendance. I have evidence that the Victorian internal Leaving Certificate, is not always even this.
11. Until one understands psychopedagogues' aversion for acquired knowledge one cannot help being amazed at their contempt for memory, another native faculty they could well start measuring if they are keen to predict future performance. But memorised facts, the fruits of application, constitute knowledge, so that they are not interested in measuring this faculty, and instead speak disdainfully about knowing something by heart. At least the Radford committee has the grace to admit that its recommended tests are scarcely suitable for, say, linguists, whose knowledge is largely the fruit of that anathema of all 'progressive' educationists: learning by rote.
12. This cut could soon be made in an alarming manner in Victoria, where Teachers' Colleges have just been granted degree-granting powers. The result would then be the complete isolation of the teaching establishment from the university, and the total abandonment of primary and secondary schools to the pedagogue as opposed to the scholar, a frightening prospect whose reality America knows so well and of which the following is a thumb-nail sketch from the book by the American professor of History from which I have already quoted:
One cannot convert a vocation into a profession simply by labelling its particular know-how a 'science' and creating pretentious, instructional programmes therein. Such, however, is precisely the educationists' plan. Courses in pedagogy -- the mere know-how of teaching -- are multiplied, expanded, subdivided, amplified, protracted, inflated, spun out, and padded. The real service that one or two such courses might perform for the prospective teacher is completely lost sight of in the frantic effort to make each petty detail of teaching into a separate course. Absurd though the process may be, it is not purposeless. Only thus can pedagogy command ever more of the time of undergraduates, and only thus can it be piled, layers thick, upon the helpless teachers who return, year after year, to suffocate in summer schools oœ education. The prize in this endurance test is an advanced degree in pedagogy and a vague promise of 'professional' standing.
Classroom teachers have a right to professional standing and to the prestige that goes with it. They will never attain it by plodding along in the educationists' treadmill ...
However lamentable the fact may appear to the educationists, the public will always judge the teaching profession by what its members know about the subjects they profess to teach. (Arthur Bestor, The Restoration of Learning, New York, 1955, p. 271).
If any reader cares to read this book about what was happening to America in 1955, he will have a good insight into what is happening here today, with the normal lag of all our pedagogical imports from the United States. He will see that pupils are just as frustrated and harassed by omnipotent pedagogues as teachers are shown to be in the above extract. To bring the picture painted in this book up to date, however, he must add the violent Marx-Marcusian politicisation of the classroom of the sixties and seventies.
13. See advance press reports (Age and Australian, 12 October 1972) of a comprehensive survey of English secondary and primary schools purporting to establish a link between non-competitive 'progressive' schooling and violence within and without the school.