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In endeavouring to point out the social and political importance of education, and the necessity for establishing a better and more general system than has hitherto been adopted in this country, it will be advisable to begin by giving a clear definition of what we mean by the term 'education'.
As it applies to children, we understand it to imply all those means which are used to develop the various faculties of mind and body, and so to train them, that the child shall become a healthy, intelligent, moral, and useful member of society.
But in its more extended sense, as it applies to men and nations, it means all those varied circumstances that exercise their influence on human beings from the cradle to the grave. Hence a man's parental or scholastic training, his trade or occupation, his social companions, his pleasures and pursuits, his religion, the institutions, laws, and government of his country, all operate in various ways to train or educate his physical, mental, and moral powers; and as all these influences are perfect or defective in character, so will he be
well or badly educated. Differences of character will be found in the same class, according to the modified circumstances that have operated on each individual; but the
general character of each class, community, or nation stands prominently forward, affording a forcible illustration of the effects of individual, social, and political
education. According to the mental or moral instruction each INDIVIDUAL may
receive, will he be the better able to withstand social taint and political corruption, and will, by his laudable example and energy, by advancing the welfare of society, while he is promoting his own. According to
the intellectual and moral spirit which pervades SOCIETY, will its individual members be improved; and in proportion as it is ignorant or demoralized, will they be deteriorated by its contact: and
as despotism or freedom prevail in a NATION, will its subjects be imbued with feelings of liberty, or be drilled into passive slaves.
W. Lovett and J. Collins, writing in 1 839-40
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