The last word on excellence

Abstract

When Matthew Arnold wrote Culture and Anarchy over a hundred years ago, he gave expression to the ideal of excellence in the fostering of culture, by describing it as "getting to know, on all the matters that most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits." Arnold was an inspector of schools, and a champion of higher education, and he believed in excellence in education as the way not only to staff the economy, important though that is, but to produce an enculturated society which will live up to the ideal in Aristotle's dictum: "we educate ourselves in order to make noble use of our leisure.".

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