Pupils and Teachers Question and Answer session

Question 1 – 5.45m
Listen to Question 1 on is humanity innate or learned
At the beginning of your lecture you said that students have the right to be considered as humans by the teacher which implies that humanity is innate and not learned which conflicts with your later gloss where you said that the greatest topic of education is to set up a relationship whereby it could be learned. Do you think that humanity is innate or is it something we learn?

“Both, why not? ……. the nature of being human, of being a person, is not like qualities like being yellow or red or hard or soft, it is not that kind of thing at all, it is the capacity to learn. Don’t be tricked by language into thinking that because we can say we are human from birth that we have not got to learn to be human, since learning is the major part of human life, of being human.”

Question 2 – 5.45; 3.15m
Listen to Question 2 on Techniques
I am interested in your view on the importance of technique. You make a statement about freedom something like “there can be no technique for attaining freedom”, and even implied that there can be no technique for educating a child. Now are you saying that techniques are completely unimportant, or are you saying that we must pay far more attention to the spirit or the atmosphere in which techniques are applied?

“I am saying the second of these… you have got to be very careful of your techniques that they don’t, as it were, take the place of teaching; that you think you can turn the handle and get the product that you want… have you fallen into the trap of teaching your subject instead of teaching your pupils?”

Question 3 – 9.00; 6.22m (3a 12.00)
Listen to Question 3 on objectivity
Can the teacher really know what he is supposed to be doing without an objective appreciation of social difficulties in the pupils?

“No … this objective attitude must fall within the [personal]… [the teacher] is a human being whose job is to care for another human being. … he must never in [being objective] forget that he is dealing, as one human being, with another human being who needs his help. … even in the extreme case, where you cannot treat the human being just in the natural personal way for one reason or another, yet you must never forget that your job in that case is to restore the situation to normal and anything that you do must have that as it’s end.”

3a (2.53 minutes)

Are you not maligning the scientific attitude when you say that the scientific attitude makes him more particularly liable [not to be personal]?

“I am not libelling the scientist at all. I am not saying that the scientist ought not to be doing this. Objectivity is essential to science, and that is therefore the right attitude for a scientist…. What you want when talking about science is to understand science – what it is doing, and the means that it must employ and the attitudes that it must develop, in order to do the scientific job. But in that you must not make the entirely gratuitous assumption that therefore a scientist has a human right to do anything that will advance his science whatever happens to the victims in the process.”

“Techniques are all very well for technical purposes, but education is not a technical job because it is part of life and living a human life is not a technical job – there is no technique for it. The only ‘technique’ that you can have is to be yourself with other people.”

Question 4 – 15.30; 3.45m
Listen to Question 4 on exams
Can you see that the teacher can reconcile these two aims which appear in some way contradictory: of making his pupils more human while cramming them with enough facts to pass examinations?

“It is bad education, isn’t it, to cram anybody with facts? …. People who know what education is should be out on the streets telling the politicians what education is there for… You have got to teach children, not a lot of facts, but how to deal with facts, and where to get the facts that they need for the job in hand.”

Question 5 – 19.16; 5.45m
Listen to Question 5 on moral education
Do you distinguish between the moral training in teaching and the personal element in the relationship?

“Of course, the real trouble is that a lot of morality is humbug anyway and is not in fact a real attempt to understand what living a truly human life is – it is a lot of wise-cracks handed down from log ago.”

Question 6 – 25.05; 6.45m
Listen to Question 6 on equality of relationships
You said at the beginning of your lecture that human relationships are characterised by equality and freedom, and that the relationship between a teacher and his pupils was such a human relationship. During the last few days we have been having a closer look at schools and I have been reminded of an incident in The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence, where he describes how Ursula has great aspirations of being one of the greatest teachers of all times.

She describes how she goes to school hoping to attract the pupils interests and attention by offering them some form of human relationship, but in the end her hopes are dashed because she finds that nearly everyone in the class is incapable of responding or reciprocating this relationship.

Would you say then that the relationship between a teacher and his pupils is the same sort of human relationship as those between adults, and if not, how does it differ?

Question 7 – 31.48; 1.45m
Listen to Question 7 on theory
(The use of educational theory.)

“You are to be the teachers, and in the long run your success as a teacher depends on you being the kind of person you are, rather than on things you have learned out of books, though the books may help quite a lot.”

Question 8 – 34.15; 5.15m
Listen to Question 8 on education for success
What you said about human relationships it seems to me very important because of unifying certain terms, terms like equality and entering into inter relations between people. But when the children go out into the world what they are going to find is the dominant moral ideas are those of acquisitiveness and competitiveness, which is a different sort of morality, this is the morality of the moment.

“[acquisitiveness and competitiveness ] is not a morality at all, it is just greed really, if you reduce [acquisitiveness and competitiveness ] to moral terms.

Why shouldn’t we – greed is a moral concept and it is the dominant moral concept, it is a good one because it is going to fit people for getting on best in the world.

“I don’t think that is compatible with education. I don’t think teachers should worship what D.H Lawrence calls “The bitch goddess success”. We are not trying to make people successful – that is not your job as teachers – not even successful in examinations – that does not matter. How people get on in life – the kind of life that we live as individuals has nothing to do with success or failure within very wide limits”

This is what I would like to teach them too, this is how I feel myself. They are going to be unhappy and inferior. As things stand they are going to feel bad if they don’t compete on the world’s terms.

Question 9 – 39.32; 5.29m
Listen to Question 9 on perfection
the properly educated man in that once you have all the people so well educated that they understand everyone else, with a comprehension they are perfectly adapted…….. no more frustrations, no more unnatural urges, no more need to be ambitious, there is no more competition, you get perfection, a kind of paradise and then a …. society

Question 10 – 45.15; 3.14m
Listen to Question 10 on balancing priorities
When you talked a moment ago about this idea of balance can I understand that you mean here some harmonic principle by which we on the whole we can achieve this freedom of which you speak?

“No I don’t think I was thinking metaphysically at all but quite simply organising priorities.”

“Success should happen, if it happens, as an offshoot of something that arises out of doing a job properly – if it comes, good – good luck, if it doesn’t come, you haven’t lost much – you’ve got your friends.”

If we organise priorities this way does this not seem to imply that we must recognise some principle underlying this.

“One doesn’t live by principles, and I don’t think that one ought to try. One lives with one’s whole self and the effort to turn oneself into a pure intellect is disastrous because it has the effect that you can’t do anything that is purely intellectual anyway.”