R. S. Peters and J. H. Newman on the Aims of Education

Educational Philosophy and Theory 45 (2):153-170 (2013)
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R. S. Peters never explicitly talks about wisdom as being an aim of education. He does, however, in numerous places, emphasize that education is of the whole person and that, whatever else it might be about, it involves the development of knowledge and understanding. Being educated, he claims, is incompatible with being narrowly specialized. Moreover, he argues, education enables a person to have a different perspective on things, ‘to travel with a different view’ [Peters, R. S. (1967). What is an educational process? In R. S. Peters (Ed.), The concept of education (pp. 1–23). Routledge and Kegan Paul]. In asserting this about education, Peters has more in common with another great English educator, John Henry, Cardinal Newman, than one might expect, given they are separated by about a century and start from different philosophical perspectives, namely Kant to a significant degree in the former and Aristotle in the latter. Both nevertheless acknowledge the importance of reason and its development in any education worthy of the name. I will argue that in describing the ‘educated person’ Peters is not far from the view of Newman, who saw education as being about the ‘enlargement of mind’. Although Newman hesitates to call ‘enlargement of mind’ wisdom, and Peters does not use either term, there are good grounds for proposing that in distinguishing between education and training, and in asserting education is moral education because it is concerned to improve persons, Peters acknowledges the higher purposes of education and hence, we can add, its connection with wisdom. Significantly, what such a reading of Peters emphasizes is his insistence on the intrinsic value of education, a view seemingly lost in modern market-driven conceptions of education.



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Janis Talivaldis Ozolins
University of Notre Dame Australia

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