Gladstone, William Ewart - Home schooling - Education policy
Type of Spiritual Experience
Gladstone saw the reform of education as a subtle but key plank in the move towards spiritual experience for all. If one teaches people how to learn, how to question, how to validate data, one removes one the major blocks to spiritual experience – the memory and the chattering mind. In effect by limiting what one memorises to what is useful and ‘true’, one is at peace, and has a belief system on which one can depend - one which is not leaving you all the time with the question ‘why did that happen to me?’
A description of the experience
Speech to the Hawarden Amateur Horticultural Society (17 August 1876), as quoted in "Mr. Gladstone On Cottage Gardening", The Times (18 August 1876), p. 9
I am delighted to see how many young boys and girls have come forward to obtain honourable marks of recognition on this occasion, — if any effectual good is to be done to them, it must be done by teaching and encouraging them and helping them to help themselves.
All the people who pretend to take your own concerns out of your own hands and to do everything for you, I won't say they are imposters; I won't even say they are quacks; but I do say they are mistaken people.
The only sound, healthy description of countenancing and assisting these institutions is that which teaches independence and self-exertion...
When I say you should help yourselves — and I would encourage every man in every rank of life to rely upon self-help more than on assistance to be got from his neighbours — there is One who helps us all, and without whose help every effort of ours is in vain.
Gladstone noticed that education can be corrupted by money and power just as most things can. Thus business sponsored courses, or courses which required very hefty fees, was not only likely to be worthless, because it would be biased and possibly unethical, but that often the information provided by true voluntary bodies motivated by ethical values, often proved far more useful and accurate in the long run.
Liberal Manifesto (September 1885)
The rule of our policy is that nothing should be done by the state which can be better or as well done by voluntary effort; and I am not aware that, either in its moral or even its literary aspects, the work of the state for education has as yet proved its superiority to the work of …. philanthropic individuals.