I visited a large city school a few days ago. It had nine hundred pupils, and it was four stories high. The playground was a small concrete corner; the discipline was like prison discipline; the rooms were dingy soul-destroying cages. How dare the teachers of Scotland ask that the school age be raised to fifteen when our city schools are barracks like that? I would have the age lowered to six if these prisons are to continue.
One of the delegates, Mr. Cowan, showed that he was looking at education in a broad light. “Education,” he said, “if it is to be real, is bound up with the questions of housing, public health, medical treatment, and the like; … hence education should be in the hands of some body that would view the matter as a whole … viz., the County Council.”
He might have added that education is primarily bound up with profiteering. Our city schools are necessarily adjuncts to our factories and our slums; the dominie is clearly the servant of the capitalist … and the poor devil doesn’t know it. It’s absolutely useless to talk of larger areas and larger salaries and larger children; the fundamental fact is that capital calls the tune, and larger areas will do as much for education as tinkering with the saddle spring of a motor-bike will do for a seized engine bearing.
“Firstly, we are now beginning to make a determined attempt to take over the control of Scots Education … and we’ll succeed even if we have to go on strike for our rights. Our Educational Institute will become the Scots Guild of Teachers … a sort of polite Trade union, you know, just like the Medicine union and the Law union—only more so. Is that quite clear?