Those who, like me, retain a fondness for the life and works of RF Mackenzie will probably have some well-worn copies of his books on their shelves. What his admirers are unlikely to have is a copy of his final work The Manifesto for the Educational Revolution, as this is a book for which he could find no publisher before he died. Were RF Mackenzie still around today, I am sure he would be a strong advocate of open publishing – so, with the kind permission of his family, and in the interests of adding a valuable work by a thoughtful and radical educationist to the world’s education canon, I have taken the opportunity to turn his final work into an eBook. I have tested it for iBooks on the iPad and on the Color Nook – it worked perfectly in both environments.
I had hoped also to publish it as a free book for the Kindle – but it seems that Amazon require a minimum set price of £0.99 for any book published there. All those free books available for the Kindle were published to draw early users in – they no longer permit free books to be published. What a shame.
You can download the ePub version – you can also download the PDF version, which his family made freely available many years ago. I offer some guidance below on how to transfer the ePub file to the iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch) for use with iBooks, and also for the Color Nook.
Reading through the text, I have to be honest and say that I can see why no publisher chose to take it on at the time: it is variable in the quality of the writing; it drifts in voice from the universal to the parochial, from the cosmopolitan to the couthy; it is poorly structured, is in need of a good editor, and it is, in any case, unfinished. The last point is the important one: a publisher could have worked with RF Mackenzie to turn this into a very interesting book indeed, and it is a shame that it has been left on the virtual slush pile since. Even the title has the air of a temporary marker that never quite developed into something better. But as an indicator, a handbook almost, to the development of one of the most compassionate, erudite and radical educational thinkers of the last century, it is an unsurpassed resource.
It is a book very much of its time and place. It is, of course, mainly about education, but it ranges far and wide across the firmament of issues that RF Mackenzie considered important to him at the time.
For me, as an atheist with an enduring interest in the religious mind and the nature of religious behaviour, I particularly enjoy RF Mackenzie’s use here (as in his other books) of biblical quotes and religious imagery to illustrate his avowedly secular view of the world. He turns the vague and contradictory texts of the faithful against them with great effect, although often with more than a hint of affection.
But it is by no means only – even mainly – the religious preisthood that is in his sights here. The ‘priesthood’ in the title quote above refers, of course, to the educational priesthood, by which he means those teachers who have chosen through the centuries to collude with the elite, those who have been, and are, happy to take on the honoured status of ‘teacher’ but who demean that noble title by serving a narrow and self-serving establishment at the expense of those who are deemed, on whatever spurious basis, unworthy of an education. The ‘teacher’ who ought to serve the interests of all, and not merely the narrow economic and social interests of those who would see themselves as our leaders, our betters, is very much in Mackenzie’s sights here.
As a little taster of what you can expect from The Manifesto I offer here a smattering of quotations from the text to whet your appetite.
Mackenzie, quoted in the Foreward, on the Manifesto itself:
This is the story of how a child in a Scottish rural community saw the world, the picture of earth-life presented by school and church and received folklore; the widening horizons illumined by questing amateurs and clouded by defensive professionals; a teenager’s innate and continuing belief that things should make sense confronted with the forbidding incomprehensibility of his mentors in school and university; the sense of wonder and enquiry and hope re-emerging under the stimulus of people throughout the world who this century tried to alter their society’s set pattern of ideas and to make education intelligible; their widescale failure, in the USSR and the USA and western Europe, to make any appreciable difference to the way children are still everywhere herded and controlled and puzzled and disheartened.
On that highly educated failure known as the classicist:
In a past generation the man who had studied Euripides and Vergil at Oxford was considered qualified to govern the Sudan. In the present generation he is considered qualified to advise the ministers on monetarism and nuclear policy. It’s beautiful magic, but alas, it doesn’t work. The problems of society are not clearly analysed. They are wrapped in high-priestly terms and, when the answers don’t work out, the cultural priests don’t blame themselves, they blame the recalcitrance of ordinary people.
On the ruling minority:
For centuries this climate of thought and feeling was ubiquitous and there was no escaping its influence. The ruling minority devoted all the available resources of literature and religion, schools and universities and law-courts, political parties, the media to deny or submerge the ability of the many, and to present themselves as the heroes of a noble epic. We did believe that cabinet ministers cared for us, that judges were just and journalists independent, that scientists were fearless in pursuit of the truth, that literature and philosophy and what was called our cultural heritage were about helping the whole human race to find its way through the darkling wood, and that school and university education existed to make this wisdom available to all.
On freeing teachers:
When teachers are freed from the task of making pupils accumulate information and memorise accepted opinions, the school ceases to be a punitive institution and the teachers will take their place among the research workers of our society, enquiring into the making of a real democracy. They will respond. Teachers, drudging through the examination syllabus, become changed people when presented with the opportunity to do original work.
On those who demean the noble title of ‘teacher’:
The [educational] priests are the minority’s officers whose function is to contain revolt and inhibit change. They have been remarkably successful for millennia. They have, for the most part, contained the majority, keeping them in a state of physical and intellectual subjection. There are some indications that that era in human history, the era of ruthless division of humanity into controlling minority and subjected majority, may be moving to its close. It will be a major event in what Heine called the Liberation War of Humanity when the thought-control, which the minority’s educational priests exercise over the majority, is overthrown.
Download The Manifesto for the Educational Revolution in ePub format.
Download The Manifesto for the Educational Revolution in PDF format.
As mentioned above, the Manifesto ePub file has been used successfully both on the iPad, in iBooks, and on the Color Nook. To transfer the downloaded ePub file to your iBooks app, simply drag the file into the Books folder on iTunes and then synch to your iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch).
Guidance is available for those wishing to transfer the Manifesto to the Color Nook .
I would welcome guidance – in comments below – from those who are able to transfer the book to any of the many other eReaders out there in the marketplace.
I used Calibre to create the ePub file from the original PDF – this application is available for Mac OS, Linux and Windows.
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