YOUR columnist, Brett Ellis thinks that the fall in numbers of church-goers could be remedied by innovations like “drive thrus

[sic] and tablets on tables” (Ring the changes for church to grow, June 7).

But the church once played a crucial role in the provision of education. In 1872, on the back of the wealth and power of the Industrial Revolution and fatally attracted by the Prussian model, the British government decided to nationalise education - breaking its historic link with affordable church schools, chapel schools, dame schools and a great variety of philanthropic endowment.

Before the introduction of the government’s free board schools, nineteenth century Britain had achieved the highest level of literacy of any nation; its citizens were justly wary of continental ways which empower the state rather than the individual.

Unlike many purged and politicised continental languages, English since Chaucer had remained hospitable to foreign borrowings. Enriched with Old Testament Hebrew, New Testament Greek and the Latin of the Catholic Vulgate, the English language encompassed the largest vocabulary of any nation.

In their nationalising zeal, nineteenth century educational ‘reformers’ decided to dismantle tried-and-tested educational convention - and, inevitably, the rich Judeo-Christian culture that had produced it. Children who had absorbed the enduring vocabulary and grammar of the Bible, hymns, psalms and liturgy, were now introduced to the stultified grammar of limited-vocabulary, beginnerreaders. The nationalisation of education across Europe, followed by strict censorship of what could be said, produced an inchoate generation, ripe for indoctrination and utopian experiment. The final stage of this experiment is currently being played out in the UK, just as it once was in the Weimar Republic: the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ has banned freespeech.

All that separates citizens from their language is bureaucracy.


Prof. Christine Wheeler McNulty, Oxhey