Why this process has wrought such havoc, first with the medical and then the teaching profession in this country, and why teachers of the Classical subjects are especially vulnerable to it, will be discussed later. But first, here is a warning by Bertrand Russell 80 years ago.
¶ ‘The only way to prevent totalitarianism in our highly organised world is to secure a certain degree of independence for bodies performing useful public work, and among such bodies, teachers deserve a foremost place.
‘The teacher, like the artist, the philosopher, and the man of letters, can only perform his work adequately if he feels himself to be an individual directed by an inner creative impulse, not dominated and fettered by an outside authority. It is very difficult in this modern world to find a place for the individual. He can subsist at the top as a dictator in a totalitarian state or a plutocratic magnate in a country of large industrial enterprises, but in the realm of the mind it is becoming more and more difficult to preserve independence of the great organized forces that control the livelihoods of men and women. If the world is not to lose the benefit to be derived from its best minds, it will have to find some method of allowing them scope and liberty in spite of organization. This involves a deliberate restraint on the part of those who have power, and a conscious realization that there are men to whom free scope must be afforded. Renaissance Popes could feel in this way towards Renaissance artists, but the powerful men of our day seem to have more difficulty in feeling respect for exceptional genius. The turbulence of our times is inimical to the flowering of culture. The man in the street is full of fear, and therefore unwilling to tolerate freedoms for which he sees no need. Perhaps we must wait for quieter times before the claims of civilization can again override the claims of party spirit. Meanwhile, it is important that some at least should continue to realize the limitations of what can be done by organization. Every system should allow loopholes and exceptions, for if it does not, it will in the end, crush all that is best in man.’
The Functions of a Teacher: Bertrand Russell in Harper’s Magazine, June 1940