The Conservative Case for Education argues that educational thinking in English-speaking countries over the last fifty years has been massively influenced by a dominant liberal ideology based on unchallenged assumptions. Conservative voices pushing against the current of this ideology have been few, but powerful and drawn from across the political spectrum. The book shows how these twentieth-century voices remain highly relevant today, using them to make a conservative case for education.
Written by a former government adviser and head teacher, the book focuses on four of the most powerful of these conservative voices: the poet and social critic T. S. Eliot, the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, the political thinker Hannah Arendt and the educationist E D Hirsch. In the case of each thinker, the book shows how their ideas throw fresh light on contemporary educational issues. These issues range widely across current educational practice and include: creativity, cultural literacy, mindfulness, the place of religion in schools, education for citizenship, the teaching of history and Classics, the authority of the teacher, the arguments for and against a national curriculum, the educational response to cultural diversity, and more. A concluding chapter sums up the conservative case for education in a set of Principles that would be acceptable to many from the Left, as well as the Right of the political spectrum.
The book should be of particular interest to educators and educational policy makers at a time when ‘conservative’ governments are in power in the UK and the USA, as well as to researchers, academics and postgraduate students engaged in the study of educational policy, or those studying educational issues from an ethical, philosophical and cultural standpoint.
Table of Contents
Introduction Confronting education’s group think
Part One: T S Eliot
1. Eliot as student and teacher
2. Changing definitions of culture and society - Eliot as social and cultural critic
3. Education for wisdom, happiness and ‘getting on’ - in that order
4. Educating the Few and the Many
5. Compulsion versus choice
6. How we forgot about the nation state: education for identity and citizenship
7. Educating for prejudice (and against it)
8. Whatever happened to education for a Christian society?
9. Is there any future for Classics?Chapter Ten. Creativity depends on transmission
10. Creativity depends on transmission
Part Two: Michael Oakeshott
11. Michael Oakeshott: philosopher and educator
12. School as a place apart
13. The project to abolish ‘School’
14. Moral, historical and political education
15. The decline of the University: from Cardinal Newman to the 2015 Higher Education Green Paper
Part Three: Hannah Arendt
16. Radical objectives and conservative pedagogy
17. The need to stop and think
Part Four: E D Hirsch
18. The pariah strikes back: teaching for cultural literacy
Conclusion The Fifteen Principles of a conservative case for education
Nicholas Tate was Chief Executive of England’s School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and its successor body the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, during the years 1994-2000. Since 2000 he has been Head of Winchester College (2000-3) and The International School of Geneva (2003-2011), as well as of a global network of schools. He chaired the International Baccalaureate’s Education Committee for five years and served on the French Education Minister’s Haut Conseil de l’Évaluation de l’École. He has a doctorate in history and has written extensively on history and education.
‘Nicholas Tate enthusiastically and cogently exposes the harmfulness of liberalism in education and offers an alternative - conservatism as advanced by four critical writers and theorists not often associated with it - T.S. Eliot, Michael Oakeshott, Hannah Arendt and E D Hirsch. The Conservative Case for Education is not an apology for conservatism; it is a provocation.’
— William G. Durden, President Emeritus, Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), Chief Global Engagement Officer, the International University Alliance (Boston, MA) and Joint Appointment Professor (research), School of Education, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
'Through exploring the work of Eliot, Oakeshott, Arendt and Hirsch alongside each other, Tate makes a compelling case for the significance of knowledge of and from the past to the project of education. This view is conservative because it looks to preserve culturally elite knowledge through its intergenerational transmission. However, it is also, at best, a radical challenge to today’s educational groupthink that denies children access to the knowledge of the past and leaves them, floundering, with nothing beyond their own narrow horizons.'
— Joanna Williams is education editor at spiked. The full review, Education: a radical tradition, can be read here: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/an-educational-revolution/
"As a (small-c) conservative in education, allies are few and far between, and you cling to them where you find them."
— Michael Merrick, www.schoolsweek.co.uk
"This impressive book [is] an elegantly written argument in favour of a conservative alternative to the hitherto unchallenged (saysTate) groupthink of liberal educators. Here is someone willing to promote a thoroughly unfashionableand unpopular view of education, someone who is – to quote the book’s subtitle – prepared to go ‘against the current’."— George Walker, Journal of Research in International Education