Comparing Matthew Arnolds and Thomas H. Huxleys Arguments about Education





Comparing Matthew Arnold’s and Thomas H. Huxley’s Arguments about Education


Matthew Arnold’s and Thomas H. Huxley arguments in regard to education assist scholars in filling several breaches in comprehending their contentious, yet amicable connection. The significance of the different contributions they made depends upon the perspective of the argument between Huxley and Arnold in relation to the nature of education requisite in fostering ingenuous culture. This paper posits to provide a synopsis of the two arguments.


Arnold argues in support of universal educational opportunities.  His analysis of the rationale of education is comparable to his analysis of the function of art. Arnold is much more troubled with culture and enrichment than with relevance and practicality. He proposes that the English people assume the movement in overseas schools of commanding identical subjects for all students in elementary school. It would follow that every child might decide between natural science or humanistic curriculum, depending on their interests and objectives. Persuaded by the humanizing consequences of literary study particularly, Arnold recommends the learning of Greek literature as well as art. His inclination is informed by the fact that Greeks performed extremely well in these areas. He points out that, whereas the English rage in relation to the excellence of English schools, schools in Holland, Germany, as well as Switzerland are evidently better-quality. In his argument for better quality of instruction for the middle classes, He points once more to the stagnation attributable to complacency. Arnold maintains that, the foreign countries have civil organizations, which are framed, with foresight as well as design, in order to fulfill the wants of contemporary society. He asserts that the English civil organization remains at the level whereby chance and time have dictated. Since the middle class runs industry, government, and commerce, it is imperative that the middle class be well educated to so (Matthew 10).

Thomas H. Huxley’s Argument. Huxley posited that, probably the most precious outcome of all education is the aptitude to make oneself accomplish the things they have to accomplish when it should be completed, whether one likes it or not. This would be the primary lesson that should be learned regardless of how early a person’s education begins, it is most likely the final lesson that they thoroughly learn. According to Huxley, education is the training of the intellect in relation to the laws of Nature. He claims that anything, which is acknowledged, as education should be tried by the standard of the laws of Nature. According to him, it is essential to acknowledge that, in firmness, there is nothing as an uneducated person. Nature teaches a person through the, the eye, touch, as well as the characteristics of objects. Pleasure and pain would tell a person to do this, or avoid that, and by slowly the person would acquire an education which, if contracted, would be methodical, real, and sufficient to his status, though there may be no additions and extremely few accomplishments (Paul 1).

Huxley asserts that, an educated person has acquired a liberal education and has been so educated in formative years, that his body is readily a servant of his willpower, and performs with pleasure and ease, all the labor that it is skilled to accomplish. This is an individual whose mind is amassed with knowledge of the fundamental and great truths of Nature, in addition to the laws of her functions (1).


In comparing the two arguments, this paper is of the opinion that Huxley. A great advocate of contemporary science and Darwin argues that education ought to be founded on an unreserved faith that the free utilization of the rationale, in harmony with the scientific process, is the sole technique of attaining the truth (Tinker 25). On the contrary, Arnold responds by alleging that education entails teaching, the finest that has been uttered and taught in the world, since education encompasses humanity’s need for demeanor, as well as the need for exquisiteness (Matthew 10). In the opinion of this paper, Arnold’s argument is more superior to Huxley’s, since it appreciates the need for formal education in its inclusiveness.

Works Cited

Paul H. Modern History Sourcebook: Thomas H. Huxley (1825-95): Science and Culture, 1880 1998 Web. 25 Apr. 2012

Matthew A. Culture and Anarchy: An Essay in Political and Social Criticism, London: Smith,

Elder, 1869. Print.

Tinker C. The Poetry of Matthew Arnold: A Commentary. London: Oxford University Press,

1940. Print.  

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