Medievalism and Mr Clarke 4

May 16, 2003

It is odd to find a supposedly progressive secretary of state for education mouthing the Gradgrindian views of Herbert Spencer. Spencer who, like Charles Clarke, thought that useful and economically valuable subjects should oust the useless ones from the curriculum, wrote in 1861:

"Accomplishments, the fine arts, belles lettres, and all those things which, as we say, constitute the efflorescence of civilisation, should be wholly subordinate to that instruction and discipline in which civilisation rests. As they occupy the leisure part of life, so should they occupy the leisure part of education."

The only difference I can see between Clarke and Spencer is that Spencer was open and honest in his opinion, whereas Clarke likes to obfuscate.

Anthony Kearney

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