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Educational ideas, in England, in the Second World War, 1938-1948

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  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religious Science


The thesis is a critical consideration of the general educational ideas in the period. A further examination is made of three issues of some importance in the period: the problem of religion in education; the Public Schools issue; and the university issue. It is argued that the general ideas fall into three categories: those concerned with fundamental standpoints; those which attempt to find a workable, practical framework for theoretical ideas; and those which concentrate upon organisation. The three specific issues illustrate these basic approaches. The conclusion arrived at is that a thorough appraisal of the English educational system was made in the period, but an appraisal too often conducted at the level of abstractions. Particularly evident was the tendency to use large social or political concepts to justify or condemn educational ideas, often without making a study or analysis of the concepts themselves. This was particularly true of such ideas as "equality of opportunity" and "democracy". A brief examination has been made of the educational ideas in the post-war period in order that the war-time, ideas can be placed in perspective. This has shown that little development has taken place in the general ideas in the sense that large concepts such as "equality of opportunity" still remain unexamined or inadequately defined. Secondly, that more systematic studies of the specific issues have been undertaken. This is especially true in the Public Schools issue and to a lesser extent in the university issue and religious issue. However, in all cases the problem of their function has loomed large and this itself is a further reflection of the lack of an agreed general philosophy of education.

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