On “Democratic Education”- CS Lewis

From his essay Screwtape Proposes a Toast, found both at the end of many editions of The Screwtape Letters, and in a collection of essays entitled The World’s Last Night.

In several essays he wrote, CS Lewis lamented the “democratizing” of education, specifically the tendency in public education to treat all students as equals, forcing the apt to lag behind and the less capable to overfeed on the wonder of their own self-esteem continually reinforced by doting educators (my words, not his.)  In a world where everyone goes to university, the value of a university education severely decreases.  In this case, England was about 30-40 years of the US.  If you don’t get what I am saying, google “Grade Inflation” and see what shows up.

But onto Lewis’ words, placed in the mouth of dear uncle Screwtape…

“For “democracy” or the “democratic spirit” (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first hint of criticism.  And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be.  For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.”

A similar essay called “Lilies that Fester” can also be found in The World’s Last Night and other Essays.


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