Higher Education and Opinion Making in Twentieth-Century England

By Harold Silver | Go to book overview

5

POSTWAR: 'A FERMENT OF THOUGHT'

CIVILIZED VALUES

The experience of Nazism, Fascism and war inevitably raised issues for education in general and the universities in particular about their possible future roles in defending and strengthening democracy. With increasing clarity from 1943 writers brought the universities into the centre of discussion about the future, as in their different ways Mannheim and the Moot, the Christian Frontier Council, Clarke, Löwe and Peers had done. Bonamy Dobrée, professor of English at Sheffield (and someone who had been suspected of being 'Bruce Truscot') firmly argued in 1944 that there was only one point of agreement among those who thought about universities, 'namely that such institutions exist to benefit civilization' and uphold broad cultural values. For him a traditional elite, 'those who form the enlightened public opinion of the day', no longer existed in the shape of an old governing class or dominant Christian values, but an elite of some sort was necessary and it would have to be created consciously. Universities were not the only ones who could do it, they were not the only path to leadership, but was it not for them to produce men and women 'who share a sense of civilized values'? Arts faculties, about which he was writing, had the duty not of sterile scholarship but of 'making contact with the vital problems of the day'. Not until these faculties understood that their problem was one of 'deep understanding…will they regain their proud place, now lost, as the real centre of the University idea'. 1 Sir Walter Moberly later described this article as having 'rightly attracted a good deal of attention'. 2 Dobrée's 'elite', very different from what Leavis had proposed through a reformed 'English school', was not unlike the active, influential minority advocated by Löwe and others in Christian terms. Translated into cultural terms, the view of Professor John Macmurray (writing in the same issue of the Political Quarterly as Dobrée) was that universities were 'primarily a centre of cultural life and cultural progress'. They should be giving

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Higher Education and Opinion Making in Twentieth-Century England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Foreword xi
  • Part I - System Making 1
  • 1 - Preludes 3
  • 2 - Early Decades: 'Unequal and Inadequate' 13
  • 3 - 1940s: 'A New Crispness' 33
  • Part II - Values 55
  • 4 - 'truscot': 'the Universities' Speaking Conscience' 57
  • 5 - Postwar: 'A Ferment of Thought' 79
  • 6 - Moberly: 'the Status Quo and Its Defects' 100
  • 7 - 1950s: 'Modern Needs' 127
  • 8 - Ashby: 'the Age of Technology' 151
  • Part III - A National Purpose 175
  • 9 - 1960s: 'Expansionism' 177
  • 10 - Final Decades: 'Painful Transformation' 211
  • 11 - Pressures and Silences 252
  • Index 267
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