Robert Hutchins: The Philosophy Of Education

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For centuries, philosophers have attempted to piece together theories as to the purpose of schools and of education, in addition to how schools should be run, what should be taught, and how students and teachers should interact with each other. Each philosopher comes up with a slightly altered idea that comes from their own perspective of what society needs at the time that they were alive. Robert Hutchins, in 1952, wrote about his theory of the importance of liberal education. Around 40 years later, Alexander Neill wrote about his school, commonly referred to as the Free Schools, and his student-centered philosophy of education. Using the ideas of these philosophers, in addition to knowledge of the current society and time period, this essay…show more content…
Hutchins and Neill each present some of these ideas in their own philosophies. Hutchins, in The Great Conversation, says that “The aim of liberal education is human excellence” (Hutchins 3). His idea was that liberal education, or the study of liberal arts, is essential and unavoidable as humans engage in the liberal arts on a regular basis. “The liberal artist learns to read, write, speak, listen, understand, and think…reckon, measure…predict, produce, and exchange” (Hutchins 4). These are abilities that occur in everyday life in today’s society and therefore, they should be represented in schools. It is important for an individual to be able to function in the society they come from so that when they are no longer in school, they do not need to rely on the help of others. Therefore, if society is represented in the schools, an individual can be much more equipped to function. By becoming a liberal artist, a person will be a proper citizen who is “at home in the world of ideas and in the world of practical affairs” (Hutchins 4). Hutchins’s liberal education philosophy will contribute to the intellectual advancement of an individual and prepare them for…show more content…
They need to allow for the students to engage with the material they are learning instead of just having the student sit and listen to lectures. Neill brings up this point and suggests that “a school that makes active children sit at desks studying mostly useless subjects is a bad school” (Neill 8). Students, specifically those of a younger age, need to be active and participate in activities that bring a sense of fun to school. Additionally, play is crucial to a child’s learning and development, especially in an age where children are aware of today’s issues through the use of social media. This means that there should be allotted time where students can enjoy themselves and be with friends. By having a specific time set aside for play and for exercise, students “are able to face the realities of life without any unconscious longing for the play of childhood” (Neill 41). They are also able to be more focused and more productive when they go back to class. In order to bring the students closer to the aims of education, schools must allow both for interactivity during class-time and for play and exercise during free-time (recess with playgrounds and sports fields, for example). Through a combination of the ideals of Robert Hutchins and Alexander Neill, a newer, updated philosophy of education can be created that may fit more closely with the problems and unique attributes of society
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