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REVIEWS THE PHILOSOPHY OF HIGHER EDUCATION* w. R. TAYLOR The contents of this small book consist of four lectures delivered by Si.r Richard Livingstone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, in September, 1945, at the University of Toronto. The first three lectures were on the Burwash Foundation of Victoria University; the last lecture, which is related in spirit, if not structurally, to the others was given as a Sir Robert Falconer Memorial Lecture. The approach to the problem of education in the modern world, as set -forth by Sir Richard here, follows closely that with which he acquainted us in his Education for a World Adrift (1943). The repetition of the theme in a slightly altered form has worked for its advantage, adding fresh force and appositeness to the argument, so that, in spite of the modest limits within which it is confined, it is probably the most impressive contribution that England has offered in these days to the current discussions on the philosophy of higher education. The factors which have produced a high degree of uneasiness in the leading universities of the English-speaking countries and led them to question the quality of their performance as teaching institutions are adumbrated in the · course of the examination of the basal problems in education. They are indicated more ·explicitly in the opening chapter of the earlier book, but between 1943 and 1945 they had been so generally canvassed that Sir Richard, doubtless, felt no need again to bring them out in full relief. In this respect, he probably paid too high a compliment to the intelligence and,discernment of his Toronto audiences, since his indirect references to the circumstances which in the major universities of America and England have raised the problem of curriculum elicited no noticeable local response. However, the factors which have been introducing co~fusion and chaos in to the educational process in our institutions of higher learning cannot be ignored by the sincere educator, if he is to address himself successfully to his task in the modern world. We cannot be unaware that the traditional basic curriculum which constituted the educatio,n of a free man and which was wholly regulative up to the second half or even to the end of the · nineteenth century has been so completely jettisoned on one or another pretext that here, in America, our twentieth-c~ntury universities present in their curricular patterns such lack of controlling principle, such amorphous design, and such desultory performance that one of their professors has been led to describe American higher education as a dismal swamp. The first of the factors that has led to the abandonment of the traditional standard of a liberal education is the rapid growth in the number ofstudents registered in our universities. In Canada, for example, while the general *Some Ta.Jks for Education. By Sir RicHARD LIVINGST.ONE. London and Toronto: Geoffrey Cumberlegc, Oxford University Press. 1946. Pp. viii, 98. (~1.25) 420 REVIEWS 421 population has doubled during the last forty-five years, the attendance at our universities has increased, at least, five or· six times. This movement of yo~th to the universities reflects the growing democratization of our society. Even in the ancient seats of learning in England, the student body is no longer composed mai_ply of those who belonged to the ruling minority of society. And this popular conviction that the privilege of attending a university is a democratic right receives fresh sanction from year to year in the growing number of professional, social, and governmental vocations that require of their recruits trained intelligence and special expertness. It follows naturally that the right of attending a university is not reserved for those who by personal endowments are best able to profit by it, but is offered to all who wish to avail themselves of it. Hence the standards of culture tend to fall towards the level of the lowest common denominator of the mass. With the change in the type of student there comes also a cha·nge in the content of the curriculum. The student in the modern university , having no assured social and economic status, is interested only to a subordinate...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 420-424
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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