SIR,-It is pretty generally agreed that the W.E.A. has established a monopoly in this branch of education, simply because, while other bodies, secular and religtous, have remained somnolent or moribund, this association, by its liberal policy and able administration, has attracted to itself all who really care about adult education. The country is covered by a network of classes organised by a regional officer and a local committee, subsidised by the Ministry of Education, and, very frequently, affiliated to the local university. There is even a special library service for the use of each class in the country. The movement is non-political and non-sectarian, and is open.to all. But D.D. must know quite well that, whatever its influence upon the masses, its actual membership is only about 45,000, whereas our industrial population is, I believe, about 10,000,000. In spite, therefore, of the liberal policy of the association, its wide range of classes and subjects and its close connection with the trade unions, the W E.A only attracts the interest of a tiny minority of our population. Thus apathy towards adult education is by no means confined to the Catholic community.
Among Catholics the W.EA is fairly widely suspected of Communist tendencies. I am told that one bishop at least has advised his flock to have nothing to do with it. The true facts are that many members of the W.E.A. hold extremely " Leftiet " and event Communist views which, in the hour's discussion that follows the hour's lecture, they put forward, sometimes w:th more eloquence than logic. Often these highly coloured and distorted interpretations of facts are lett unanswered simply because theta is no Catholic there to attempt a more orthodox interpretation. This is not because Catholics are excluded but because they share the intellectual lethargy of the great mass of their fellow-countrymen and, therefore, remain outside the movement.
It is surely in a group such as this where, in a friendly and informal atmosphere, all may meet on equal terms, that Catholics should play their part. If the W.E.A. is Communist in its tendencies, this is only because people holding these views care more about education and cultural pursuits than do we, and we have only ourselves to blame.
During the war I formed a W.E.A. class in my own parish, and gave some thirty lectures on International Affairs. Our parish priest attended every meeting, contributing always to the discussion. The class received every help and encouragement from the W.E.A. local headquarters, who made only one stipulation, which was that we should open our doors to all corners, whatever their religious or political beliefs. It seemed to me and to many others, an excellent way of meeting people of all religions, and of none, and of discussing certain fundamental principles with them, and I believe this idea has many possibilities. Here, then, is a movement from which all Catholics can learn, and in which all can co-operate. We shall never make Reram Novarum the reality it is intended to be by barring ourselves in the palish room and talking piously about it. Many thousands of W.E.A. members are not even aware that the church has a social policy. How can they, unless we are there to tell them about it? The alternative is to plan and develop an adult education policy of our own, at the risk of losing all the advantages of-collaborating with other men who really need to know what only we, as Catholics, can tell them. Or perhaps we could advance along both lines at once: a Catholic study circle in the parish and the W.E.A. outside it.
Penally, I agree with D.D. that it would be a misfortune if this or any other activity even child education itself became the monopoly of teachers. Since my own pupils are mostly 16-18 years of age, I stand perhaps a little higher in the human scale than the morons in the elementary schools who spend their laborious days " stuffing in " rather than " drawing out," although I would not wish to be too dogmatic in expressing such a hope. If, however, I may speak for teachers as a body, I would point out what D.D. ought himself to know: The W.E.A. could not continue to operate for a week without the support of the teachers. The success of the Forces educational scheme was due, almost entirely, to teachers who devoted their leisure to talks, lectures, and discussion groups for the troops throughout the British Isles. There is abundant evidence that this work was widely appreciated.
A teacher who uses in an adult class methods appropriate to Standard II, will quickly empty his lecture room, but while this work can and should be shared with any others able to undertake it, only a prejudiced mind will deny that teachers are specially qualified to do it. So far from regarding any such help as an " invasion," D.D. should be glad that there is somebody always at hand fool enough to do these Jobs-the teacher. In the coming struggle between materialism and Christianity, we shall need the enthusiasm and the co-operation of all. We must prepare for it now. The Church needs us all and has work for us all to do. There is far too much to be done to waste time bickering over who is to do it.
Liverpool Collegiate School, Liverpool' 6