Saturday, January 03, 2009

Mosely Commision 1903

Alfred Mosely, South African industrialist and associate of Cecil Rhodes led the Mosely Education Commission to study American Schools in 1903. He had become curious about "what sort of country it was that was responsible for sending so many level-headed men to the Cape." The purpose of the report was to improve education in the UK and it was published in London in 1904.

His 400 page report written by a variety of scholars largely attributed the success of American Schools to the manual arts movement. Comparing American education to that in the UK Mosely said:
"In contrast to our education, which has to a large extent been "classical" I found that in America it is the "practical" subjects which are principally taught, and technical classes and schools are to be found everywhere.

American boys remain at school much longer than is the case here, often in addition, passing through to the secondary schools and colleges at little or no expense to their parents or themselves.

My observations lead me to believe that the average American boy when he leaves school is infinitely better fitted for his vocation and struggle in life than the English boy and in consequence there are in the United States a smaller proportion of "failures," and fewer who slide downhill and eventually join the pauper, criminal or "submerged tenth" class."
The following is also from Mosely's introduction to the commission report which can be found on Google Books.
"But if in popular sympathy and support American education enjoys one great positive advantage, it has also two negative advantages, by no means unimportant. It has no "religious difficulty"; and it is comparatively free from the tyranny of examinations. Religious education has been excluded from the scope of the Mosely Commission, and I, therefore, express no opinion upon either the causes or the effects of its exclusion from the public schools of America: but the freedom from the examination system, which weighs so heavily upon secondary and higher education in England, is an advantage for which we may well envy Americans. In our elementary schools we have to a large extent exorcised the examination fiend; but our whole system of public school and university education has got into a vicious groove of incessant competition, which represses individuality on the part of teachers, discourages experiment, and elevates subordinate motives for industry into undue prominence; while the strain of constant examination sends many young persons out into life intellectually exhausted, with no conception of seeking learning for its own sake."
By Alfred Mosely's standards things have changed for the worse in American education since 1904.

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