Help find a Virginia Woolf (?) quote about the 'Poor School'?
March 5, 2009 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a (Virginia Woolf?) quote about the "Poor School."

About five years back, I had a great paragraph-length quote tacked to my bulletin board. I'm 90% sure it was from Virginia Woolf. If was about how people in society ought to band together to form a kind of school that she'd call "the Poor School," which would teach, instead of snobby esoteric academic subjects, arts that were relevant to living well: cooking, eating, dressing, making things, conversation. Something like that. Does this ring a bell for anyone else? I'd very much like to find it again, and haven't been able to in a few web searches, time spent scanning through, etc. Thanks!
posted by toomuchkatherine to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I searched on "school" over at the Virginia Woolf concordance but didn't find anything like what you've described. Perhaps you could visit the site and try a different keyword?
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Aha! I've got it. I searched for "poor." Turns out it's called the "poor college," not the "poor school."

It was from 'Three Guineas.'

"Let us then discuss as quickly as we can the sort of education that is needed. Now since history and biography -- the only evidence available to an outsider -- seem to prove that the old education of the old colleges breeds neither a particular respect for liberty nor a particular hatred of war it is clear that you must rebuild your college differently. It is young and poor; let it therefore take advantage of those qualities and be founded on poverty and youth. Obviously, then, it must be an experimental college, an adventurous college. Let it be built on lines of its own. It must be built not of carved stone and stained glass, but of some cheap, easily combustible material which does not hoard dust and perpetrate traditions.

Do not have chapels. Do not have museums and libraries with chained books and first editions under glass cases. Let the pictures and the books be new and always changing. Let it be decorated afresh by each generation with their own hands cheaply. The work of the living is cheap; often they will give it for the sake of being allowed to do it. Next, what should be taught in the new college, the poor college: Not the arts of dominating other people; not the arts of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital. They require too many overhead expenses; salaries and uniforms and ceremonies. The poor college must teach only the arts that can be taught cheaply and practised by poor people; such as medicine, mathematics, music, painting and literature. It should teach the arts of human intercourse; the art of understanding other people's lives and minds, and the little arts of talk, of dress, of cookery that are allied with them. The aim of the new college, the cheap college, should be not to segregate and specialize, but to combine. It should explore the ways in which mind and body can be made to cooperate; discover what new combinations make good wholes in human life. The teachers should be drawn from the good livers as well as from the good thinkers. There should be no difficulty in attracting them. For there would be none of the barriers of wealth and ceremony, of advertisement and competition which now make the old and rich universities such uneasy dwelling-places -- cities of strife, cities where this is locked up and that is chained down; where nobody can walk freely or talk freely for fear of transgressing some chalk mark, of displeasing some dignitary. But if the college were poor it would have nothing to offer; competition would be abolished. Life would be open and easy. People who love learning for itself would gladly come there. Musicians, painters, writers, would teach there, because they would learn. What could be of greater help to a writer than to discuss the art of writing with people who were thinking not of examinations or degrees or of what honour or profit they could make literature give them but of the art itself?

"And so with the other arts and artists. They would come to the poor college and practise their arts there because it would be a place where society was free; not parcelled out into the miserable distinctions of rich and poor, of clever and stupid; but where all the different degrees and kinds of mind, body and soul merit cooperated. Let us then found this new college; this poor college; in which learning is sought for itself; where advertisement is abolished; and there are no degrees; and lectures are not given, and sermons are not preached, and the old poisoned vanities and parades which breed competition and jealousy . . ."
posted by toomuchkatherine at 11:40 AM on March 5, 2009

A good passage. Glad to be of service!
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:32 PM on March 5, 2009

I'm bookmarking that Hyper-Concordance, MonkeyToes. Thanks!
posted by steef at 12:48 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

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