The ninety-nine Theses which follow have been complied from many sources, all of which I hope I’ve acknowledged appropriately in the appendix. They range across many specialised subjects, but they are linked, at least in my mind, to how it is that young people should be educated in a way sufficient to enable them to act responsibly both in their private lives, and as members of a democracy. As the author my task has been to synthesise an array of material into what amounts to ninety-nine separate mini-essays, which together tell a story.
To attempt to construct such a synthesis, not in any sense as a final, definitive statement, but to challenge ourselves to see how all these issues actually come together, is a most risky enterprise. It was best described by Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger in his famous essay “What is Life” published in 1944 when he wrote, “We have inherited from our forefathers the keen longing for unified, all-embracing knowledge… but the spread of the multifarious branches of knowledge during the last hundred years has confronted us with a queer dilemma… it has become next to impossible for a single mind fully to command more than a specialised portion of it. I can see no other escape from this dilemma (lest our true aim be lost forever) than that some of us should embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with a second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them — at the risk of making fools of ourselves”.
That I don’t know as much, and never will do, as some of my readers will know about their own special disciplines is my reality. I ask for such people’s tolerance if they feel that I have trivialised what is, quite rightly to them, their life’s work. I can only apologise and politely ask them how they would have described the essence of the issue within the same limitations of space, while creating a continuum with the other issues before and after their thesis, and to do this in a language that ordinary readers can comprehend.
The issue is indeed serious: If democracy is going to thrive then nothing other than a curriculum that will enable every young person to understand all the connections between these various ideas will suffice.