THRICE within the past six years, Sir Richard Livingstone has produced the notable book on education. He says more in less space than anyone else, says it better, and says much that no one else has been able to say. Schoolmaster, tutor, college professor, college president, ViceChancellor of Oxford University, a notable author since 1911, his equipment is formidable, but it is all kept out of sight, and the 98 pages of these four lectures delivered at Toronto two years ago can be read easily in two or three hours. This ease is deceptive: for their matter, to be grasped, must be thought upon until it is a part of one’s unconscious mental apparatus, then put into active practice.
It was Sir Richard who finally caused the concept of universal adult education to be taken seriously in England and America. In this present volume he is making specific proposals about major problems of our civilization. How can education train character so as to make our political machinery work? What would a civilized democracy be like and how can we start educating people so as to create one? Modernity being not a question of date but of outlook, what sort of education could fit us for this modern world? And finally, can people be taught to tell the truth? — on which question hang all the others. This meager précis is painfully inadequate. The book itself is an infinite enrichment of contemporary thought. Like any other work of fine art, its potency is what it enables us to do for ourselves.