Speech on Values Education in Nanpi, China, October 2010.
Prof. Lord Alton
尊敬的刘宝成教授、杨恒达教授，尊敬的在座各位来宾，我非常荣幸能在今天，与我的同事Andrew Johnson先生，来到这里，在此，我也要向邀请我们出席今天仪式的Stephan Rothlin博士致以我最崇高的敬意。 教育学家们常常引用中国古代经典著作《管子•权修》中的一句名言“一年之计，莫如树谷；十年之计，莫如树木；终身之计，莫如树人。”一直以来，我深受其鼓舞和激励。 在我年轻的岁月里，我曾执教于教会学校。在英国，共有约2300所天主教学校以及3000所其他教会学校。总的来看，英国的天主教学校占到总数的10%，其中包括，1723所天主教小学，352所中学，以及17所六年制学院。这些学校的建立都得益于英国天主教会一直以来的慷慨解囊，其中不少包括来自贫困的移民社区，特别是爱尔兰地区。 时至今日，学校资助的来源更加多元化，但教会每年对学校的资本投入依然保持高达2千万英镑，而政府则承担学校教职工工资及其他相关支出。这样的合作伙伴关系一直维系至今。 除此之外，英国还有约156所天主教学校完全独立于政府并依靠自筹资金进行学校建设。Johnson先生的中学就是其中最为著名的一所，我也在这所学校中担任董事。 在我进入议会之前，我曾在事业单位任职并服务于利物浦教育委员会。1997年，在我成为上议院议员的同一年，我在利物浦John Moores大学任教，同时作为苏格兰St. Andrews大学访问教授。 我有四个孩子，其中三个在读大学，另外一个在读中学。所以，教育已经成为我生活工作的方方面面，而且，确如其所述，“终身之计，莫如树人”。 英国现行教育体制的确立得益于议会于1870、1902、1944以及1988年通过的相关法案。然而，尽管这些法案对于教育体制的建立有着重要的作用，但教育事业并不仅仅关乎于遵循法令，也不仅仅限于学术成就。教育的目的在于树立健全的价值观体系，或者说，是为培养高尚的道德情操、培育合格的社会公民以及提升整个社会的福祉。 19世纪英王维多利亚时期的杰出教育家托马斯·阿诺德曾经这么论述其对科学和教育的观点“与其生硬地接受，我更希望我的孩子认为太阳是围绕地球转动的……可以肯定的是，作为基督信徒以及英国的公民，我们教育的根本目的是使其恪守基督教道德律，成为“基督教绅士”。” 与其同时期的纽曼在其专著《大学的理想》中强调了培养学生道德情操和树立起健全的价值观的重要性。他说道“举凡教育，无外乎两种形式，其一，自由教育培养通才和绅士；其二，专业教育培养更为“实用”的专业人才。”对此他强调“如果一定要为大学课程制定一个实际的目标的话，那么这个目标就是要为社会培养良好成员。也就是其反复提到的“绅士”。这种“绅士”智力发达，情趣高雅，直率、公正、客观、举止高贵，注重礼节”。 另外一位维多利亚时期的著名小说家，查尔斯·狄更斯在其经典著作《艰难时世》中提到受其奚落和诟病的另一种教育方式，即文中Thomas Gradgrind老师所说“我们需要的是事实。我们只需要为我们的学生讲授事实。生活就是事实，除此别无他物。只有通过事实的传授才能训练学生推理的能力，除此别无他法。” 令人庆幸的是，阿诺德与纽曼的教育思想受到更多英国学校的推崇，而不是Thomas Gradgrind老师非人性化的教育方式。 然而，现行的教育制度又收到许多诟病，过度倾向于集中严格的考试制度和目的性过强，似乎除此以外的教育方式对于我们的孩子们并无好处。 教育应当不仅限于学术成就的取得。年轻人应当去思考、提出问题、辩论以及理解那些对于他们的生活具有重要意义的决定，以及那些影响他们以及其他年代的人们重要的事件，例如：伦理道德问题、科学技术带来的挑战、愈发加快的生活节奏、饥饿全球变暖等世界性危机、大规模杀伤性武器的控制、节约非可再生资源等。 对于现在的年轻人而言，对这些问题的思考，与其在学术领域取得较高的成就同样的重要。 尽管取得学术上的成就也很重要，但我们需要赋予教育更加深远的意义。英国政府这样描述教育的目的“（教育）就是要保证每一个社区、每一个学校的每一个孩子都能获得其所需的教育，从而使其才能能够得到充分的发挥，一个都不能少。” 从这段论述中我们可以清楚地看出，教育的意义远不止于对于拉丁文的遣词造句，或者对于二次方程的理解，而是使得学生能够成为一个“完全”的人。 同样重要的是认识到每个孩子都是不同的，我们需要针对其个性的特点和需求去教育他们，使其才能得以充分发挥。要达到这样的目的，政府和教育者们需要在孩子教育和成长的过程中，融入家庭和家长的作用。 欧洲国家，包括英国，在其签署的《保护人权及基本自由公约》第二草案中明确规定“政府应当尊重家长确保（其孩子所受）教育与其宗教信仰和价值观相吻合的权利”。 因此，家庭是孩子接受良好教育、茁壮成长的重要方面。 然而，令人心痛的是，在英国，我们目睹了传统家庭的风崩瓦解。大学800,000儿童没有在其成长过程中得到父亲的关爱。或者孩子的父亲在孩子的教育成长过程中起到应有的作用。 美国“National Fatherhood Initiative”（一个关于父爱的社会组织）在其研究发现中提到“我们对于父亲在孩子成长过程和家庭中的重要性的认识已经发生了改变。父亲的角色已经渐渐退化为提供资金上的支持……然而，仅仅这样是完全不够的。实际上，非资金方面的投入更为重要，例如，为孩子成长、学习、道德情操的养成树立楷模的作用。在这些方面，父亲对于孩子成长的作用是相当重要和深远的。” 在英国，处于12至17周岁年龄段的孩子们，往往应为父爱的缺失导致种种严重问题的出现。除此之外，部分孩子因为父亲的暴力倾向或父亲对孩子关注过少导致双方关系不好。同时，由于部分孩子的父亲忙于工作，使得投入到孩子身上的时间过少。这些问题都导致“父爱缺失”状况难以解决。 在艾德里安娜.凯茨针对1,400男孩儿的调查中，百分之十三的受访者表现出低自尊、积极性底下以及缺乏自信。这些男孩儿往往表现出对其责任的模糊以及未来的消沉。百分之二十的受访者有过犯罪记录；百分之十一表现出严重的忧郁以及自杀倾向。需要指出的是，如今四分之三的自杀者均为男性。其中一名受访者讲道“我们已经被这个社会所遗弃。”这些问题需要引起我们的警醒。
这些处于社底层的年轻人往往隔绝于家庭温暖之外，他们常常认为其被不公平地剥夺了现代社会的种种机会。如果我们希望减少犯罪，毒品滥用以及家庭暴力，我们需要让这些孩子找到自信并对外来充满希望。相比于其他的孩子，我们的教育系统一直以来都忽视了对这些孩子们的关注，而他们正是真正迫切需要树立健全的价值观和自我认知的弱势群体。 我们需要做什么？我们怎样去教育我们的孩子？ 于1946年辞世的英国作家赫伯特·乔治·威尔斯认为公民责任是在文明的社会中得以培养的，而教育对于构建文明社会的作用不可忽视。他说道“文明的进程就如教育与灾难之间的一场马拉松。” 刘易斯·芒福德在其著作《城市发展史》中前瞻性地预见了价值观缺失和道德沦丧的严重后果，以及由此产生的对文明社会的威胁。 “在现代人获取威胁其存在的各种力量的控制之前，他们必须重新回归其本性。这决定了未来城市的主要功能是化力为形，化能量为文化，化死物为活生生的艺术造形，化生物繁衍为社会创新。为了充分发挥城市的这些正面积极功能，首先需要创造出新的社会制度和整顿组织，使之能够应付现代人类所掌握的全部巨大能量。”“城市乃是体现人类之爱的一个器官，因而最优化的城市经济模式应该是关怀人和陶冶人。” 芒福德形象地描述道“最初，城市是神灵的家园，而最后城市变成了改造人类的主要场所，人性在这里得以充分发挥。进入城市的是一连串的神灵，经过一段段长期间隔后，走出城市的是面目一新的男男女女，他们能够超越其神灵的局限，人类凭借城市发展这一阶梯步步提高自己，丰富自己，甚至达到了超越神灵的境地。” 实际上，古代众神都重新回归神坛并要求人类的祭祀：经济发展创造出一个奴役性的体系，人类在其中被非人化而成为机器和僵尸；教育体系更像是提供快餐的场所，而不是为培养人性；传统的家庭和社会结构在快速发展中瓦解。 闪米族的神正徘徊在其熔炉周围，等待着跃跃欲试。然而，令人欣慰的是尽管有这么些诱惑，依然存在很多人拒绝让自己的孩子成为现实的牺牲品。教育者们有责任确保自省、自治以及自我实现成为城市生活的重心，而不是Gradgrind所说的经济。 我们需要不断地问自己，我们怎么培养自愿承担其责任和义务的公民。 Saint Edith Stein是一位德裔犹太哲学家，后来成为天主教修女，她最终被害于奥斯维辛集中营的毒气室里。 当希特勒对其公民实行纳粹专制的时期，Stein生动地阐述了每一位公民的责任在于辨别正义与邪恶，同时每位公民的价值观决定了其生存的国度的性质。她鉴定的认为社会以及国家是有人构成的。而这些人并不是神秘的个体，俄日是活生生的男人、女人以及儿童，他们的优点和缺点，以及天赋和需求都是现实存在的。 她写道“国家并不是抽象的存在。国家依赖于其每一位成员的存在而存在。对于规范和价值体系的遵从和违背，只是针对于这些成员的行为而言……只有当其成员具备作为公民应有的特质，国家才会具备正义或非正义的特性，保护那些其应保护的人，并在其外交事务中体现审慎。伦理道德规范只有当先作用于其成员，才能对于国家的行为进行规范。” 因此，国家从其公民的价值体系中获取启发。Stein警告道，如果这两者出现分歧，这必将导致冲突和危机。
对于公民的教育应当强调自省在人们生活和相互交流影响中的重要性。如果这种自省缺失了，则会导致未经思考的人云亦云，其行为也为沦为世俗。这样的结果会导致道德伦理的沦丧，最极端的例子莫过于集中营的大屠杀以及纳粹的恐怖专制。 除非我们把自己定位于国家的代表，并思考行为的准则，责任感与判断力是不可能获得的。公民的教育在于自我的认知。除了知道盗窃和谎言是错误的，我们更应当明白是什么使得这样的行为不可接受。规章制度必须能够实实在在地培养公民的判断力。 我们需要明确我们对于共同生活在一个国家或社会中，并共担一定责任和义务的公民应该有什么样的期待。 如果我们真正的要通过教育去解决公民意识缺失的问题，并使每位社会成员获得完全的公民权益，我们就必须强调每个社会成员的责任：和平地生活，参与地区和国家政府事务以及市政机构，贡献于对公众有益的机构的筹建，获取知识并鼓励孩子获取知识，尊重他人的需求，遵循道德伦理规范，珍视合法取得的权利及其过程。 然而，公民权益被简单的误解为权利，这导致公民社会的变得越来越野蛮化。而这又催生了不可满足的需求以及对于物质主义和消费主义的膜拜。而这些退步又受到个人主义和伦理道德边缘化的强化。在这样的形势下，社会的逐渐无序化就不那么显得奇怪了。 权利与选择成为新的公民教条。“选择”与“异端”在希腊语中同根同源。英国杰出的作家和雄辩家， G.K.切斯特顿曾在其悖论中尖锐的指出“对于选择的崇拜就等于不去选择”。我们所作出的选择往往意味着对于他人的影响。 在英国，权利取代了责任，就像人们鼓吹要求获得工作的权利、接受教育的权利、生育的权利、获得毒品和色情作品的权利、掌控生杀的权利以及死亡的权利。然而，被人们遗忘的却是长久以来的工作、获取知识、关爱家庭、珍爱和尊重生命的责任。选择不受结果的约束，公民社会微妙的平衡也因此被打破。 我们需要思考公民社会是如何构建的，如何瓦解的以及如何才能使其得到维持。公民教育是其中的必要条件。 如果一个公民社会要抵挡那些渴望霸权的人的侵蚀，那么在政治领域中一些共时性的原则需要得到广泛理解和遵循。 如果一个国家或者社会的文官体制是腐朽的或者其统治者和公民并不在意公民德行，那么这样的国家或者社会是不会长久的。遵纪守法、个人责任心、公益心以及宽宏大量、坚定的目标、判断力以及前瞻性、毅力以及责任感都是健全公民素质的主要方面。 在构建公民社会的过冲中，我们需要重视的是社会规范和德行，而不是政治意识形态。 在古希腊众多思想家中，亚里斯多德认为每一个人都应当追寻高尚的品德以及其“社群”思想最为著名。其“社群”的概念并不是关于公民社会的构成，而是关于那些公民所应具有的品质以使得社会的共生成为可能。在《政治学》这本著作中，他提到“我们并不是像跳棋中独立的格子那样无不联系的存在。那些不愿意扮演自己角色的人应当感到羞愧。古罗马的西塞罗曾说过，对于道德的实践来说，最好的观众就是人们自己的良心。” 亚里士多德所提出的古老的美德，对于我来说，是构建公民社会的关键：
正如St. Edith Stein所坚信的，一个人的道德情操将影响他如何对待他的友邻和周围的环境，以及他如何在政治及商业中坚守其道德准则。我们通过自身的一言一行去构建公民社会，在这个进程中，我们需要自愿地去服务于这个社会而不是支配，需要去接受那些有时与主流思想相悖的价值观。 耶稣教导我们要有信仰、要胸怀希望、要有爱心，并激励我们以我们希望别人对待自己的方式对待他人。而这些思想与中国古代思想家孔子的细想如出一辙。他对于社会的思想紧紧围绕着其“仁”“礼”“德”的概念。对于孔子而言，对于他人的关爱是通过对“道德金律”的遵循而达到的，这包括“己所不欲勿施于人。君子成人之美，不成人之恶。小人反是。”孔子认为具有自我约束的人才能真正做到无私和利他。 如果这些不可或缺的高尚品德，不能代代相传的话，那么我们社会的基石也会受到动摇。 这些高尚的品德是可以习得的，他们是内生的品质，通过对人内在品质的提升从而产生对整个社会的深远影响。 教育以及对大众的约束应当使得智慧得以充实，培养高尚的品德和良好的到的倾向，培育正值的意志，同时规范我们的天性和良知。 对公民社会的威胁时时刻刻都存在，他们会摧毁我们的努力，而教育使我们最好的防卫武器。而在这一过程中，构建以共同利益为核心，符合正义、社会要求的政治以及民事体系和机构显得尤为重要。 通过英国的教育体系，我们使学生们明白只有当法律本身是正义的，它们才成为真正意义上的法律。而这种正义性保证了法律的良知，并成为其权威性的前提。就如和平以及稳定是社会的基础一样。 在我们的学校里，我们强调共同利益以及健全的公民社会要求社会正义的进步，法律体系的不断发展，人们更多的参与政治事务，人们得以获得更多的平等机会使其才能得以充分发挥，并且因其对社会的贡献获得奖励，自由思想和自治能力的培养，以及对于知识和真理的热爱。 格特鲁德•希梅尔法布在其著作《社会的道德败坏：从维多利亚美德到现代价值》一书中指出，在英维多利亚时期，美德以及公民责任受到高度重视，这对于社会及其公民而言是更严峻的挑战。 令人遗憾的是，价值成为了美德的代言词。 著名的政治思想家列奥·施特劳斯对此作出了精辟地评论“原为形容男子汉刚毅的词语却被用作描述女子的淳朴。” 尼采在19世纪80年代首次将价值阐述为现代意义上的集体的意志与信仰。 与美德类似，价值的外延非常的宽泛，正因为这样，其在不同的宗教信仰抑或哲学主张，以及相对主义的环境中同样适用。所有的事物都变得中立和具有非主观性，没有什么是绝对的正确和绝对的错误。 在英国，我们提出教育的“3R”原则，即阅读、写作以及算术。于此同时，还有另外两个重要的R，及正确和错误。这五个R对于造就一个完整的人非常的重要。 英国新黑格尔派哲学家葛林坚信，只有当公民认识到自由不仅仅是有喝得伶仃大醉的权利以及不妨碍他人的自由，而是培养更健全的自我品德和修养，并与他人一起对于社会做出有益于共同利益有益的贡献，只有这样才能称其为真正的“成人”。 18世纪政治家爱德蒙·伯克曾经指出自由社会需要具有道德伦理思想的公民。当良知、美德、习俗以及宗教培养了公民的自我约束能力，国家将不再需要运用惩戒手段进行社会管理，她说道“人们获得公民自由的程度，与他们用道德约束自己欲望的倾向成正比。同时，习俗比法律更为重要。” 对于自助及责任的认知成为健全的社会的两大基石，同时，他们也来源于古典和宗教美德的相互结合。 许多知识分子开始认识到这种德行缺失以及与传统宗教信仰脱离的后果。他们开始关心社会与个人的对立，权利与责任的对立，自由市场与社会融合的对立，同居与家庭的对立，公共责任与个人得失的对立，以及原则与权宜之计的对立。 并不仅仅是因为怀旧使得他们怀疑这些当代英国的标志性现象，例如，贪得无厌、自私自利以及暴力倾向。同时也不是对更加体面的、和谐的以及有序的社会的渴望的情感。我认为是一种绝望。 英国的问题在于能够建议一个体现犹太—基督教精神信仰，而不仅仅是宗教本身的社会。我们可以相信公民秩序无法再重寻宗教信仰的基础上得以重建。 也许信仰并不是供奉神像的壁架，而是将我们破损的社会融合在一起的粘合剂？上帝并不是偶然存在的，也不是一个长句子中的省略号。正如一项调查指出，71%的受访者信仰上帝，64%的受访者信仰宗教。 更为欣喜的是，与以往不同的，公民社会也存在相对的平衡，以获得信仰以及信仰缺失的折中。正义的怀疑几乎不会社会的发展。社会的平衡以一种奇妙的方式融合了信仰以及对其的怀疑，宽容与尊重对于社会和谐及稳定起到了极为重要的作用。 我所在的大学是一所非教会学校。12年前，我被授权建立一个“公民基金会”，以培养我所提到的价值挂念。在这个过程中，我遇到了一下的问题：
在现代城市生活中，越来越多的社会成员处于与世隔绝的状态； 社会成员之间的联系开始瓦解，并且影响到社会成员与国家之间的关系； 在民主国家中，对公民责任认知出现缺失； 缺乏一种协调的机制促进企业社会责任以及对社会的贡献； 在课程设计中缺乏对于公民角色以及现代社会中公民责任内涵的教育。
面对这些挑战，我们致力于塑造具有健全伦理道德观念的毕业生，使他们在工作和生活中对于作为公民的责任有一个清楚地认知，在更广泛的社会范围内建立公民道德观念，在企业界推动责任诉求。我们举办了金1000场讲座，并设立了专门奖励优秀公民行为的奖项。这些奖项现今被英国西北部的金1000所学校所认可。 这些事我们针对上述挑战所作出的努力的一部分。教育年轻人成为完整的人，成为合格的公民不仅仅是昙花一现，而应当是其成长过程中重要的环节。 请允许我在最后在此强调这些挑战的普遍性以及持续性。 1818年，创立弗吉尼亚大学以及后来成为美国第三人总统的托马斯 杰弗逊对于弗吉尼亚大学的办校宗旨，曾这么说“为每一位公民提供完成其事业所有的知识；通过阅读提高其道德及知识水平；使其认识到他并有效地承担起对于其友邻和国家的责任；培养社会进步、公民的幸福生活所依赖的政治家、立法者以及法官；总而言之，要培养他们思考与行为端正的习惯，使他们成为他人道德的典范，并使其内心充实。” 杰弗逊的目标正是体现亚里斯多德、西塞罗以及孔子对于教育的思想，我们需要从这些思想瑰宝中汲取经验和灵感，因为我们的教育事业任重而道远。非常感谢能有机会与大家分享这些。
Professor Lord (David) Alton has been a member of the British Parliament for more than 30 years, 18 years in the House of Commons and 12 years in the House of Lords. He holds a professorial chair at Liverpool John Moores University and is a Visiting Fellow of St. Andrews University.
Values Education in England.
Professor Lord Alton, October 2010.
Professor Liu Baocheng and Professor Yang Hengda, distinguished guests, it is with great pleasure that I have come here today with my colleague, Mr.Andrew Johnson, headmaster of one of Britain’s leading schools, at the invitation of Stephan Rothlin, for whom I have the greatest admiration.
Educationalists sometimes quote a wise Chinese proverb: “If you are thinking one year ahead, sow seed. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking 100 years ahead, educate the people”.
It is a thought with which I profoundly agree.
As a young man I taught in schools in what we call the voluntary aided sector – that is schools run by the churches. Around 2,300 British schools are run by the Catholic Church and another 3,000 by other churches. 10 % of Britain’s schools are Catholic: 1,723 Catholic primary schools and 352 secondary. In addition there are 17 Catholic sixth form colleges.
Those schools were only possible because of the generosity of previous generations of British Catholics – many of whom were from poor immigrant communities, particularly from Ireland.
Even today, in addition to many other forms of support, parishes contribute around £20 million each year towards the capital costs of church schools; salaries and other costs are paid by the Government. It is a solid partnership which works
There are a further 156 Catholic schools in the independent sector, totally independent of the Government and self financing. Mr.Johnson’s school is one of the most famous; I serve as one of the Governors of that school.
In addition, before entering Parliament I worked in the State sector, served on the city of Liverpool’s Education Committee, and in 1997, the same year that I was appointed to the House of Lords, I became a Professor at Liverpool’s John Moores University; and I am a Visiting Fellow of St.Andrews University in Scotland. Three of my children are students at university and another is at school. So, education is close to my heart, and, yes, “if you are thinking 100 years ahead, educate the people.”
The major pieces of legislation which have shaped our education system were passed by Parliament in 1870, 1902, 1944 and 1988.
But education is about more than laws or regulations, and it cannot simply be reduced to academic achievement – important though that is.
Education is about values, or, as I prefer to put it, education is about the cultivation of virtue; the formation of a nation’s citizens; the promotion of the common good.
In Victorian England, during the 19th century, Thomas Arnold said that
“Rather than have it“—he referred to science—“the principal thing in my son’s mind, I would gladly have him think that the sun went round the earth . . . Surely the one thing needed for a Christian and Englishman to study is a Christian and moral and political philosophy”.
His contemporary, Cardinal John Henry Newman, wrote a treatise on “the idea of a university” and he, too, extolled the importance of developing the character and values of the student: “You see then, gentlemen, here are two methods of education; the one aspires to be philosophical, the other mechanical; the one rises towards ideas, the other is exhausted upon what is particular and external”. Therefore, he said: “It is well to be a gentleman, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life—these are . . . the objects of a University”.
A third Victorian, the great novelist, Charles Dickens, famously opened his brilliant and classic novel, Hard Times, with the teacher, Thomas Gradgrind, stating an alternative education philosophy, an approach which Dickens lampooned and despised: “Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them”.
Happily, the ideas of Arnold and Newman rather than the dehumanised rote learning of Thomas Gradgrind are the ones which in the more enlightened English schools are the ones which have prevailed.
But some would argue – and I am among them – that, in recent years, we have been tilting too far towards an over-centralised rigid regime of testing, continuous examination and targeting, as though nothing else will be of any service to our children.
There is a place for education that reaches beyond academic attainment. Young people must have the opportunity to think, inquire, debate and understand the importance of making decisions about their lives and some of the great issues that will affect them and their generation. We can gaze into a crystal ball and imagine what some of those issues will be – ethical dilemmas, moral conundrums, technological and scientific challenges, the rapidly changing pace of living – and world crises, ranging from hunger to global warming, from the control of weapons of mass destruction to the exploitation of finite resources
These profound questions are as important to young people as ensuring that they have high academic attainment at the completion of their education.
Important though it is to put basic levels of attainment in place, there must be scope for a broader view of learning. I agree with the declared objective of the British Government when it states that the purpose of our schools is to “ensure that every child in every school in every community gets the education they need to enable them to fulfil their potential”
Explicit in this declaration is the firm conviction that education is, indeed, about far more than conjugating Latin verbs or understanding quadratic equations. It is about the whole man, the whole woman.
What is important is an acceptance that every child is different and that we target their individual needs and help them to fulfil their potential. To achieve this, the State and educationalists must never forget to honour and involve the parents of children in their education and upbringing.
The European nations, in Protocol 2 of their Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms affirms this principle with great clarity, and it is one to which Britain is a signatory. It declares: “the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions”.
The family, therefore, is central to the stability, education and upbringing of a child.
Tragically, though, in England, we have witnessed a terrible destruction of the traditional family. Some 800,000 children no longer have contact with the man who fathered them. Even where fathers are present they are no longer sufficiently involved in the formation of their sons and daughters.
Perhaps I may quote from a finding of the National Fatherhood Initiative–an American organisation–which expresses the matter well: “We have simply changed our minds about the importance of fathers to the well-being of children and families. We have so truncated the role of fathers to where we now say a good father is someone who provides money … It’s far more than just economic. In fact, the non-economic contributions are more important, things like being a good nurturer, a good disciplinarian, a teacher, a moral instructor. These are things we used to look to fathers to contribute to the well-being of their children”.
In England, for boys aged 12 to 17 the factors most strongly associated with serious or persistent offending can often be traced to the absence of a father. Others boys have a poor relationship with their father, who may be violent or take little interest in them. And other fathers are working such long hours that they cannot give their sons the time they need. All of this has accurately been described as the “Dad Deficit”.
In a survey conducted by Adrienne Katz of 1,400 boys, 13 per cent were found to have low self-esteem, low motivation and low confidence. Boys in that group said that they were uncertain about their responsibilities and depressed about their future.
Twenty per cent of that group had been in trouble with the police; 11 per cent were deeply depressed or suicidal. I should point out that today three out of four suicides in our country are males. One of the group said, “There is no position in society for us to grow into”. Those are significant words.
This is an underclass of young men, often detached from the socialising influences of the family, often believing that they are unfairly excluded from the opportunities of the consumer society. If we want to reduce crime, drug abuse and domestic violence and to strengthen families, we must give these young men back hope and self-confidence. More than any other group, our education system has been failing these young people who desperately need values and a sense of self worth.
So what should we do? How should we educate?
The English author, H. G. Wells, who died in 1946, understood what would happen if we fail to appreciate the role of education in fostering civiliised society, where personal civic responsibility is cultivated in each person: “Maintaining civilisation is a constant race between education and catastrophe”, he declared.
In his book, The City in History (Pelican, 1961), Lewis Mumford perceptively and prophetically saw what the consequences when we fail to promote values and virtue; how the balance of civil society comes to be threatened:
“Before modern man can gain control over the forces that now threaten his very existence, he must resume possession of himself. This sets the chief mission for the city of the future: that of creating a visible regional and civic structure, designed to make man at home with his deeper self and his larger world, attached to images of human nature and love.
“We must now conceive the city, accordingly, not primarily as a place for business or government, but as an essential organ for expressing and actualising the new human personality.”
Mumford records that when cities were first founded, an old Egyptian scribe counselled their founders to “put the gods in their shrines”. Today, it is the needs of each unique and precious human being which should be put into our shrines and be at the heart of our political activity.
In reality, all the monstrous gods of the ancient world have reappeared – demanding total human sacrifice at their altars: economic systems that create a servile State in which we become dehumanised automatons and zombies, education regimes that become like a fast food outlet rather than places which cultivate humanity; traditional family and community structures sacrificed in the name of progress.
Moloch stands waiting to be appeased on the threshold of his furnace. The wonder of it is that despite all the enticements, so many remain unwilling to surrender their children to his fires. It is the duty of educationalists to ensure that self knowledge, self government, and self actualisation – rather than economic Gradgrind – becomes the centre of our cities’ activities.
We constantly need to ask ourselves how we will form citizens who are willing to accept responsibilities and duties.
Saint Edith Stein, who died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, was a German-Jewish philosopher who became a Catholic nun.
At a time when Hitler’s Nazi state was stifling dissent and corralling its citizens into conformism with the tenets of Nazism, Stein wrote tellingly about the responsibility of every citizen to be an agent for good or ill, and about the way in which the values of the individual citizen determine the nature of the state in which they live. She rightly insisted that both society and the state consist entirely of persons. These are not mysterious entities. They are made up of men, women and children
whose strengths and weaknesses, talents and needs, are all too real.
These are her words. “The state”, she said, “is not an abstract entity. It acts and suffers only as those individual agents through whose actions the functions of the state are discharged act and suffer. And it is their actions that conform to or violate norms and values … the state is just or unjust, protective to those whom it ought to protect, and scrupulous or unscrupulous in its dealings with other states, only insofar as the relevant individual persons have these characteristics. Moral predicates apply to the state only insofar as they apply to the relevant individuals”.
The State, then, takes its inspiration from the values of its citizens. Stein warned that when the two do not coalesce it inevitably leads to conflict:
Education of the citizen should, then, underline the moral significance of self-knowledge – as agents in the way we live and affect others. Without such an appreciation, we end up justifying our actions by the unthinking assertion that we were “only obeying orders“, or that “It’s what everybody else does”. In extremity, this leads to the hecatombs of the concentration camps and the nightmare kingdoms of Nazism but the everyday examples are commonplace.
Unless we are able to conceive of ourselves as an agent or agents with regard to how we behave, it will be impossible to develop any sense of responsibility or judgement. Educating for citizenship is educating us to know ourselves. Beyond being told that stealing or lying is wrong, we also need to know what it is about them that makes them unacceptable. Rules must genuinely serve the development of judgement.
First principles would require us to clearly state what we expect of a citizen; that sharing in the common life of a nation or community confers responsibilities and obligations.
If we were to educate for citizenship and to take seriously the civic deficit, we would enshrine the duties of each person: to live peaceably; to participate in civic institutions and the processes of local and national government; to contribute to the resourcing of commonly beneficial institutions; to acquire knowledge and to encourage the pursuit of knowledge in children; to learn respect for the needs of others; to behave ethically; and to appreciate how legitimate rights have been acquired, and to cherish them.
Civil society has become uncivil as modern citizenship has become perceived in terms of rights alone. This in turn breeds unrealisable demands and a cult of materialism and consumerism. It is further entrenched in the isolation of individualism and the marginalisation of ethics. Is it any wonder that society becomes chronically disordered?
Rights and choices are the new civic dogma. The word ‘choice’ stems from the same Greek root as the word heresy. The brilliant English writer and polemicist, G. K. Chesterton pointedly observed in one of his paradoxes that “to admire mere choice is to refuse to choose”. The choices we make always carry consequences for others.
In England rights have too often replaced duties as propagandists demand the right to a job, the right to an education, the right to a child, the right to drugs, the right to pornography, the right to kill, the right to die. Displaced are the ancient duties to work, to acquire knowledge, to care for family, to cherish and to respect life. Choices are no longer conditioned by consequences. The delicate balance of civic society is thus broken.
We need a greater concern with how civil society is made, how it decays and how it might be preserved. Civic education would be a sine qua non.
If a civil society is to withstand the ambitions of those who wish to usurp it, fundamental shared principles must be widely held and understood in the political community and beyond.
A nation or community will not survive for long if its civil structures are corrupted or decaying or if its rulers and citizens do not pursue civic virtues. A respect for law, a sense of personal responsibility, public spirit and munificence, firmness of purpose, discernment and foresight, perseverance, and a sense of duty might be chief among these civic qualities.
In the construction of civil societies we must build on custom and on virtue rather than political ideology.
Among the ancients the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is best known for his belief that everyone should pursue virtue and for his upholding of communal existence, or koinonia. The koinonia was not about civic structures of government but about the qualities in mankind which made civic co-existence a possibility. In “Politics” he wrote that we are “not like solitary pieces in chequers.” He said “aidos, or shame, would attach to those who refused to play their part. In ancient Rome, Cicero held that “the whole glory of virtue is in activity.”
Aristotle’s ancient virtues remain for me the key to building a civil society:
As St.Edith Stein insisted, how a person acts as a moral agent affects everything from how they behave towards their neighbours and their environment to how they uphold ethical standards in politics or commerce. We begin building a civil society by our own actions towards one another – by our willingness to serve rather than to dominate and by our willingness to embrace values which run counter to those which may prevail throughout mainstream society.
Christ offered the virtues of faith, hope and charity (the love of God in its original meaning) and encourages us to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” (St.Luke 6:31).
This is in close accord with the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, who promulgated a social philosophy which largely revolves around the concept of ren, “compassion” or “loving others.” For Confucius, such concern for others is demonstrated through the practice of forms of the Golden Rule: “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others;” “Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it, since you yourself desire success then help others attain it.” He teaches that such altruism can be accomplished only by those who have learned self-discipline.
If such indispensable virtues – which united East and West – are not passed from generation to generation, civic fabric is bound to crumble.
The virtues are acquired by practice. They are internal qualities perfecting the interior persona and, thus deeply affecting society as a whole.
Education and formation of the masses must enrich the intellect, cultivate virtues and good tendencies, engender a spontaneous uprightness of the will, and shape instincts and conscience.
The wolves are always waiting at the door, waiting to destroy civil society and education is our best defence.
The bad comes to pass more frequently than the good. All the more reason to create political and civil structures and institutions which are organised in accordance with the order of nature and justice and centre on the common good.
Through our English education system we teach that laws are only truly laws if they are just – and they are binding in conscience only if they are just; that real, not feigned justice, is the foundation of authority in the law, as it is for stability and peace within the community.
In many of our schools we teach that the common good and a strong civil society require the progress of social justice; the organic development of institutions of law; the participation in more and more extensive ways of people in political life; the creation of conditions which really do offer each an equal opportunity to bring their gifts to fruit and which rewards the efforts of its labour for common use; and the cultivation of that inner liberty which gives mastery over self; and, finally, a love of knowledge and truth.
In her book The De-moralisation of Society, from Victorian Virtues to Modern Values. Gertrude Himmlfarb (IEA Health & Welfare Unit 1995), reminds us that England’s Victorians focused on good character and personal responsibility. They spoke not so much about values but of virtues – a more demanding test.
It is a pity that values have become interchangeable with virtues.
The political philosopher, Leo Strauss, was right to muse on the mystery of: “how a word which used to mean the manliness of man has come to mean the chastity of women”.
Friedrich Nietzsche was, in the 1880s, the first to use “values” in the modern sense of describing collective attitudes and beliefs.
But alongside virtue, value is a weak word. It can mean anything people want it to mean, which is why it works so well against a backdrop of syncretism and relativism. Everything becomes neutral and non-judgemental; nothing is absolutely right or absolutely wrong.
In England we talk about education being based on the “3Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic – “R” purely in a phonetic sense! but there are two further phonetic “Rs”, right and wrong. We need all five of these Rs to successfully educate the whole man or whole woman.
The English philosopher, T.H.Green rightly believed that the citizen becomes a “grown man” when he appreciates that freedom is about more than the right to get drunk or not to impede another’s freedom: it is about the cultivation of the best in self and in the wider community, with others, to achieve the common good.
And, Edmund Burke, the eighteenth century statesman, counselled that a liberal society required a moral citizenry. When internal self-control was developed through conscience, character, habit or religion, it would reduce the need for the state to resort to punitive or coercive practices: “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites” (Burke, A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 11 January, 1791, in Works II, 555);and he said that “Manners are more important that laws” (Letters on a Regicide Peace, 1796, Works V, 208).
Learning then about self help and duty become two of the corner-stones of a strong society and they, in turn come from the marriage of classical and religious virtues.
Many intellectuals have begun to appreciate the consequences of this loss of virtue and disconnect with traditional religious faith.
They are beginning to address the polarities of community versus individual, rights versus responsibilities, free markets versus social cohesion, cohabitation versus the family, public duty versus private gain, expediency versus principle.
It is not simply nostalgia which is driving them to question the grasping acquisitiveness, selfishness and violence which are the hallmarks of contemporary Britain.
Nor is this a new phenomenon. History is a great teacher. Today, October 18th, is the 150th anniversary of one of the most sordid and shameful moments in British and French history – when our countries, as part of their collaboration in the Opium Wars – burnt to the ground, the Yuanmingyuan, the summer palace in Beijing. These actions still poison the political relationships of our two nations but they reveal a mentality which is still pervasive in a domestic setting. Our task must surely be too heal history, to build solid relationships, and to tame the savageness of man whenever and however it manifests itself.
It is not sentimentality which desires a more decent, kindlier, orderly setting in which to live and to rear children. It goes much deeper than that.
The question for England has become whether it is possible to create a gentler society which manifests the attributes of Judaeo-Christian belief while discarding the belief itself. Many of us believe that civic order may be incapable of repair without a new encounter with religious belief.
Might it not be true that faith is not just a decorative detail – a modular bracket on which to hang an ancient deity, but the glue which holds our frail furniture together? God is not just an incidental, an apostrophe in a longer sentence. And many of my countrymen agree: a survey discovered that a survey 71% of people believed in God and that 64% defined themselves as religious.
More plausibly, Civil Society may not believe as it once did, and is living off some of its capital in a certain ambiguity, a compromise between faith and its absence. Honest doubt hardly inhibits society. In a curious way, a balanced society needs both faith and doubt; and tolerance and respect of one another is crucial to harmony and stability.
My own university, where I hold a chair, is a secular institution. Twelve years ago it gave me a free hand to establish a Foundation for Citizenship – to promote the values about which I have been speaking.
Among the challenges I listed were:
* the increasing isolation of the individual within the context of the modern urban environment.
* the fracturing of community bonds and their corresponding effects on the relationship of individuals to the state
* the lack of understanding abut civic responsibilities and duties in the democratic state
* the lack of a co-ordinated approach towards corporate
responsibility and involvement in the community
* the failure to address at any level of the curriculum the role of citizens and what responsible citizenship in modern society really means
To meet these challenges we set out to promote the development of ‘ethical’ graduates who will have a clearer understanding of responsibilities as citizens in or out of work; to develop an ‘ethos’ of citizenship in the wider community; to promote the need for greater responsibility in the corporate sector. We have staged nearly 100 public lectures ( http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/97603.htm ); and to promote an award scheme in schools to recognise acts of good citizenship. These awards are now used in nearly 1,000 schools in the North West of England ( http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/97597.htm ).
These are small initiatives but they are a practical attempt to meet some of the challenges which I have described. Educating young people to be “men and women for others” to be good citizens is not then just an incidental; it is one of the pillars on which their formation should be based.
Let me conclude by underlining both the universality of these challenges and their timelessness.
In 1818 Thomas Jefferson – who founded the University of Virginia, and became the third President of the United States – set out some of the University’s objectives. These included “giving every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; To understand his duties to his neighbours and his country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by others….To form the statesmen, legislators and judges, on whom public prosperity and individual happiness are so much to depend….And, generally, to form them to habits of reflection and correct action, rendering them examples of virtue to others, and of happiness within themselves”.
Jefferson’s objectives were the ancient goals of Aristotle, Cicero and Confucius; and it is from these deep wells we must draw fresh water as we educate for the next one hundred years ahead. Thank you for the invitation to share these thoughts with you today.
With Andy Li During The Hong Kong Elections In...