from Antonio Gramsci
(From: Gramsci, Antonio.
Prison Notebooks, chapter II—“Education.”
learning takes place especially through a spontaneous and autonomouseven
if the truth is an old one. It demonstrates a mastery of the method, and
indicates that in any case one has entered the phase of intellectual
of the pupil, with the teacher only exercising a function of friendly guide—as
happens or should happen in the university. To discover a
oneself, without external suggestions or assistance, is to create—
in which one may discover new truths.
[…] it will always be an effort to learn physical self-discipline and
self-control; the pupil has, in effect, to undergo a psycho-physical training.
Many people have to be persuaded that studying
too is a job, and a very tiring one, with its own particular
apprenticeship—involving muscles and nerves as well as intellect. It is a
process of adaptation, a habit acquired with effort, tedium and even suffering.
Wider participation in secondary education brings with it a tendency to ease
off the discipline of studies, and to ask for “relaxations”. Many even
think that the difficulties of learning are artificial, since they are
accustomed to think only of manual work as sweat and toil. The question is a
complex one. Undoubtedly the child of a traditionally intellectual family
acquires this psycho-physical adaptation more easily. Before he ever enters
the class-room he has numerous advantages over his comrades, and is already in
possession of attitudes learnt from his family environment: he concentrates
more easily, since he is used to “sitting still”, etc. Similarly, the son
of a city worker suffers less when he goes to work in a factory than does a
peasant’s child or a young peasant already formed by country life. (Even
diet has its importance, etc.)
This is why many people think that the difficulty
of study conceals some “trick” which handicaps them—that is, when they
do not simply believe that they are stupid by nature. They see the
“gentleman”—and for many, especially in the country, “gentleman”
means intellectual—complete, speedily and with apparent ease, work which
costs their sons tears and blood, and they think there is a “trick”. In
the future, these questions may become extremely acute and it will be
necessary to resist the tendency to render easy that which cannot become easy
without being distorted. If our aim is to produce a new stratum of
intellectuals, including those capable of the highest degree of
from a social collective which has not traditionally developed the appropriate
attitudes, then we have unprecedented difficulties to overcome.
Gramsci, Antonio. Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks
. Ed. and
Trans. Derek Boothman. Essential Classics in Politics: Antonio Gramsci.
CD-ROM. London: Electric Book Co., 1999.
See also: http://www.24hourscholar.com/p/articles/mi_qa3671/is_200207/ai_n9121406/pg_5?pi=scl
Reproduced for classroom use only.