The conventional division between conservatives and progressives obscures an obvious truth: everybody wants to conserve some things, while few are against any kind of progress. The crucial questions are what is worthy of conservation, and what constitutes genuine and desirable progress.
The answers often lead to more complicated political identities, such as ‘socially progressive but economically conservative’, ‘cultural conservative’ and various, often conflicting senses of ‘liberal’. When we fall back on simplistic terms like conservative and progressive, it suggests a lack of depth to our political debates.
One question that often complicates political allegiances, and has the potential to add depth to our politics, is that of what schools should teach children. This is the subject of a 1943 book by CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man: reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools. As the main title indicates, Lewis believed our approach to education has consequences far beyond the classroom. Disarmingly, though, his book begins as a polemic against a particular textbook.Continue reading “In praise of our moral inheritance”