The Aims of Education

The Aims of Education

by Alfred North Whitehead

Presents the texts of a series of lectures delivered between 1912 & 1928 on the purposes & practice of education.PrefaceThe aims of educationThe rhythm of educationThe rhythmic claims of freedom & disciplineTechnical education & its relation to science & literature The place of classics in educationThe mathematical curriculumUniversities & their functionThe organisation of thoughtThe anatomy of some scientific ideasSpace, time & relativity

  • Language: English
  • Category: Education
  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 175
  • Publish Date: January 1st 1967 by Free Press (NY)
  • Isbn10: 0029351804
  • Isbn13: 9780029351802

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They relate to epistemology, but not education, and admittedly I could not follow parts of the argument. is that the source?) rather than trying to ground science in experience whilst constantly referring to a duality we never experience: when have you ever experienced something purely spatial or purely temporal and not both at once?

Todays book review is: The Aims Of Education (1929 ), by Alfred North Whitehead. The book is a collection of papers and presentations (speeches) given by the author on a number of topics: education, freedom and discipline, science, the function of universities and the nature of thought itself. Metaphysically speaking, Whitehead poses that reality is what we (individually) perceive it to be and the normalization of perception is (what we agree on collectively) what we scientifically say is the real world. (I went through this in a political theory class back in my own university days.) While I feel I understood what Whitehead was trying to express, I found it extremely dry reading and in the end (after several weeks of having the book on my bedside table), I had to force myself to read the last 30-40 odd pages. This seems an extremely elitist view until one recognizes that education is a lifetime endeavor and returning to school (university) is not (or it should not be) prohibited for those who start their working lives as tradesmen and technicians. Primarily because of the nature of the subject matter, but also because of the way its expressed (extremely erudite language), this is not a book (I believe) many will force themselves to wade through.

The Rhythmic Claims of Freedom and Discipline (1923) p30-"Wisdom concerns the handling of knowledge, its selection for the determination of relevant issues, its employment to add value to our immediate experience. It must, of course, be chosen to suit the child's stage of growth, and must be adapted to individual needs." -Introduces his 3 stages: Romantic, Precision, Generalisation p37-"education should begin in research and end in research." The Place of Classics in Education (1923) -classics are dying because 90% of pupils never read classics in the original again after finishing school, and by way of this classics teachers are also decreasing p74-"the whole claim for the importance of classics rests on the basis that there is no substitute for first-hand knowledge." Universities and their Function (1928) p93-"The task of a university is to weld together imagination and experience." p97-"The whole art in the organization of a university is the provision of a faculty whose learning is lighted up with imagination.

One of the better education books that I've come across, that actually deal with many of the philosophical concerns underneath, instead of presenting certain dogmas and uncritical thoughts. In public schools, at least in the U.S., it's clear to me that a classical education, with a focus on philosophical issues, thinking, or training, is clearly lacking.

For me, the most interesting and valuable section of this work was section 7: "Universities and Their Function." Should be yearly required reading for all those working in higher ed. He also makes the best case for technical dedication I've ever read, and every piece of evidence he provides is still valid almost a century later.

Particularly interesting was his discussion on "Universities and their Function." The ideas posited in this section of the book I thought would be good for application in the high schools of the 21st century, if only we could get administrators, business leaders, and politicians to look at education in the light of Whitehead's intellect.

He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas. Beginning in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Whitehead gradually turned his attention from mathematics to philosophy of science, and finally to metaphysics. Today Whitehead's philosophical works particularly Process and Reality are regarded as the foundational texts of process philosophy. Cobb, Jr. Isabelle Stengers wrote that "Whiteheadians are recruited among both philosophers and theologians, and the palette has been enriched by practitioners from the most diverse horizons, from ecology to feminism, practices that unite political struggle and spirituality with the sciences of education." Indeed, in recent decades attention to Whitehead's work has become more widespread, with interest extending to intellectuals in Europe and China, and coming from such diverse fields as ecology, physics, biology, education, economics, and psychology.