14: Thoughts concerning Education; Locke’s Theory

Locke’s Thoughts concerning Education and his Conduct of the Understanding occupy an important place in the history of educational theory, though only a scanty reference can be made to them here. The subject had a right to prominence in his thought. The stress he laid on experience in the growth of mind led him to magnify, perhaps overmuch, the power of education. He held that “the minds of children [are] as easily turned, this way or that, as water itself.” He underrated innate differences: “we are born with faculties and powers, capable almost of anything”; but, “as it is in the body, so it is in the mind, practice makes it what it is.” Along with this view went a profound conviction of the importance of education, and of the breadth of its aim. It has to fit men for life—for the world, rather than for the university. Instruction in knowledge does not exhaust it; it is essentially a training of character.