Diagnosis of Our Time: Wartime Essays of a Sociologist

By Karl Mannheim | Go to book overview

IV
EDUCATION, SOCIOLOGY AND THE PROBLEM OF SOCIAL AWARENESS

I. THE CHANGING FEATURES OF MODERN EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE1

One of the most important changes in the educational field seems to be the gradual change from the compartmental concept of education, as it prevailed in the age of laissez-faire, to the integral concept. The first concept treated education as a more or less self-sufficient compartment of life. It thought in terms of schools and classes where teachers instructed boys and girls in subjects specified by the curriculum. The progress of the students, and indirectly the capacity of the teacher, was assessed by a system of marks. There were written examinations, and if these were passed to the satisfaction of the examining body, the aim of education had been achieved. Some may consider this to be a caricature, but others will blame me for characterizing this method as belonging to the past only. They may feel that too many still act and think in these terms. However this may be, even if it is a caricature, it represents in an exaggerated form the tendency towards compartmentalization.

Education was a compartment because the school and the world had become two categories not complementary but rather opposed to each other. Education was a compartment up to that age limit at which a human being was expected to be accessible to educational influence. Up to a certain age educational institutions tried to impress you and to impress your behaviour, whereas after the age limit you were free. This tendency towards compartmentalization has been broken by the revolutionary concept of adult education, extramural education, refresher courses, which familiarized us with the idea of post- education and re-education. It is equally due to the healthy influence of adult education that we acknowledge the fact that education ought to go on for life, that society is an educational agent, and that education at school is good only if in many ways

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