Research Article | Published:

The Informative Content of Education

Nature volume 140, pages 415416 (04 September 1937) | Download Citation



MR. H. G. WELLS, in his presidential address Section L (Education), directs attention to an aspect of educational science that has received perhaps a disproportionately small amount of attention in educational literature, the question of information. He leaves the physical and mental training of our modern populations aside, he contributes nothing to the discussion of language teaching, mathematics, the cultivation of literary appreciation, music, drawing and æsthetic training generally, and he concentrates upon the question of what a modern human being should know in. order to play the part of a citizen, happily and adequately. What sort of fact system should be and can be established in a normal human mind under the conditions existing in a contemporary civilized community? Few people realize the restrictions set to the accumulation of knowledge by the exigencies of the time-table and the school-leaving age. When due allowance has been made for the other elements in educational work it is questionable whether we' can allot more than six hours a week to imparting real knowledge (real, that is, as distinguished from methods of expression, etc.), or, assuming ten 40-week years, rather less than two thousand four hundred hours altogether in the school period of life. A vast amount of miscellaneous knowledge is, of course, picked up by talking, reading, observation and so forth outside the formal school scheme and we learn facts in vast variety to our dying days, but this is uncorrelated stuff, and it is within the limits of these two thousand four hundred precious hours that a sound framework of general knowledge must be established, if ever it is to be established in the growing mind.

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