July 30, 2004

Education and Attitude

"I had never skated before, and did not become very proficient, but I learnt to race at quite a high speed from one end of the tarn to the other, to circle the small coves, leaning, bending, feeling my body's glow against the frosty air. It was my first sustained and intensely conscious experience of the joy of my body's life and vigour; the first clear invitation I had felt to the body's pride in its reserves of skill and power. When the frost ended and football and running were resumed, I transferred to them my new-found energy and enthusiasm. The inner feeling-tone of my life -- muscular, nervous, emotional -- ceased to be one of fatigue and anxiety, and in particular of anxiety of fatigue; instead, every day, week, term opened for me to a new field for enjoying and extending (rather than testing or proving) my appetites and capacities for life." From W.B. Gallie, An English School, page 18, italics mine.

Gallie tries to explain what his English public school education gave him, and why that education might contain important lessons for British education generally. He captures in this account a shift in attitude, something different from learning a fact or developing a skill. How would education change if planners said at the beginning: "we know that some shifts in attitude are valuable, and we will promote an environment in which those shifts in attitude are likely to happen."

Posted by shea0017 at 9:44 AM