School; Monovian Editorials

Editorials - 1950



No. 56. Spring, 1950


Editors: C. O. MORGAN, R. E. DURGNAT


It is true to say that The Monovian, as a school magazine, compares favourably with any in our district, especially in its literary section. Yet there are two qualities which neither it nor any school magazine can possess-topicality and licence. The six-monthly appearance of The Monovian militates against topicality. Any news it gives is bound to be, through no ones fault, somewhat out of date. Because it is circulated fairly widely-among parents, governors, Old Boys and local schools, it cannot print anything which, though witty or amusing, might be considered embarrassing to any of its readers. These drawbacks of a permanent magazine did not arise in the weekly Bulletin, the demise of which has been lamented by The Monovian editors. Here was a news-sheet which was up-to-date and which could be slightly malicious at the expense of school personalities and activities without causing authority to take offence. The Bulletin could not be regarded as a rival to The Monovian, it could not achieve the permanence of the School Magazine, and its back editions dated very much. It worked in conjunction with the magazine, supplying topicality and wit where the latter supplied original contributions and chronicles. Therefore its present retirement is as unwelcome as it is unnecessary.




No. 57. Summer, 1950


Editor - R. E. DURGNAT

Assistant Editor - A. J. KNOCK

We learn to read and to write at our peril. Reading and writing are the gateways to the palace garden of education, but unfortunately those who unlock the gates for us to walk through also open them to whatever chooses to come in after us. The extraordinary degree to which propaganda has been developed is one of the most disquieting features of this mentally cacophonous civilization. It is dangerous to repeat too often that the purpose of education is to fit a man for a place in this world: the statement is too open to misinterpretation. An equally important duty is to give us the capacity to choose between the thousand and one offers, commands, bribes and appeals that are made to him. To teach a man to read and write is to open him to the incessant advertising of the press, to the frankly biased ideological arguments and exhortations now bandied about, to the jostling and bullying of ideas in the world today. Amid all the propaganda, truth can hardly be heard. Truth wilt out, but men are expert at producing her upside-down, or wrapped up in a flag. For this reason the mock election at School was not a particularly happy event, despite the interest it aroused in the national and local press. One feels that the job of a school is rather to teach people how to examine and discount propaganda rather than to admit it in its most heated form into the school. It may be, as it often has been, argued that propaganda cancels itself out. Unfortunately, it does not: an advertisement for Rowntrees may cancel out one of Cadbury's and vice versa, but both advertisements will unite to produce the impression that one is not perfectly happy until one has bought a bar of chocolate. Consequently the almost entire preoccupation of modern civilization with the material things of life: no one is happy without chocolate, a motorcar, a wife (see the beautiful girl in the picture), insurance, sweet breath (hence someone's toothpaste), Hovis and butter for tea. In the political field the effect is almost as bad: ceaseless propaganda and slogans encourage loose, careless, immature thinking; one catchy jingle is worth ten good arguments. Almost the entire currency of political thought consists of half-truths advanced as whole truths. The only defence against all this is the clear thinking and, equally important, the wide basis for clear thinking, which education can give. The "general" periods for the Sixth Form can be a help but their very nature (discussion) means that they are all too likely to become (as they tend to) mere forums for the repetition of the same half-truths. Far more valuable would be a course in logic, a course, even, in medieval casuistry. Defiantly I cry, the person who knows how to split one hair will be far more useful to the community than he who has the entire battery of half-truths at his disposal. One adds in parenthesis that all clear thinking will seem hair-splitting to those unaccustomed to it. This in itself is not enough. It is important to be able to examine the controversies of our day; it is all the more important to be able to examine the standards, the assumptions that we (almost unconsciously) accept. For this it is necessary to know something of the standards of other times and other places, and how they faced up to their problems. For us, the Ancient Greeks and Chinese under Confucianism perhaps provide the most salutary standard. At this point the writer finds himself drawn into the old question of whether the Classics should be taught in schools or not. So, wrapping himself in the cloak of mystery, he mutters that it would be a good idea and that the study of Latin can do a lot to teach us to discount verbiage and get down to meaning, but that some little acquaintance with psychology, philosophy, economics and sociology is important too, and withdraws himself into the editorial cavern.

R.E. D.

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