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Newman's concept of Education

The Idea of a University grew out of a series of five lectures delivered in Dublin in 1852 that was aimed at offering an intellectual basis for the formation of an Irish Catholic university. and discussion about Newman's Concept of Education. Catholic dogma, of course, lies at the heart of Newman's study, and one cannot overlook the formative impact that religious belief had on his views on education. At the same time, one should not succumb to the facile oversimplification of dismissing his ideas as the parochial affirmation of the conventions of a homogeneous society. There are possibilities inherent in Newman's ideas stretch well beyond the sectarian concerns that his approach might imply.
Newman concept of education

Newman spoke at a time when radical social changes had led to intense questioning of nearly all of the conventional assumptions relating to the social and intellectual infrastructure necessary to the support of a university; epistemological views were suffering through the direct assault of scientific theories like Darwinism. Recent economic upheavals had overtumed the stable balance exerted by Irish institutions that otherwise would have shaped the composition of a university community. And finally, growing agitation by political leaders like Daniel O'Connell for independence from England made defining the very boundaries of Irish society problematic. All of these elements forced Newman to articulate a system that balanced the freedom necessary for intellectual discovery with the restrictions needed to confer order on any vigorous method of inquiry.

For Newman, education fosters efforts toward the perfection of the intellect. Seeking after knowledge allows one to comprehend creation as far as humanly possible. In his writing. Newman capitalises terms such as education and Knowledge, affirming his own commitment to ideas informed by a Truth that one could hope to discover because it was objective, i.e., stable and not open to  interpretation or modification. As a logical continuation of this perspective-at least in his mind-he opposes the dissemination of what we would designate value-free knowledge. The term itself would seem contradictory to Newman, for he would see value-free knowledge--that is, knowledge uninformed by belief or ideology-as his in fact valueless. knowledge stands at the centre of Newman's approach to education, and he asserts that one cannot devote oneself both to its transmission and to its discovery and expect equally exemplary results. Consequently, he urges universities to confine themselves to teaching and to send those interested in doing research to academies organised on the continental model. Newman further refines the roles of teachers by distinguishing between instruction-- which involves little more than inculcating the mastery of facts or skills, "rules committed to memory, to tradition. or to use"-and education-which includes the engagement of the student in a discerning fashion, "an action upon our mental nature. "

Education--the process that prepares one's mind to receive knowledge--acculturates one, not by conferring a particular skill but rather by shaping one's broad ability to interact within our society. It stands as a vital factor in our process of maturation. As pan of this activity. Newman affirms the importance of theology as part of a program of liberal instruction, for it articulates the system of belief that governs our behaviour across the broad spectrum of our activities. In "The Idea of a University" Newman writes -- "But education is a higher word: it inplies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connection with religion and virtue. When, then, we speak of the communication of Knowledge as being Education, we thereby really imply that that Knowledge is a state or condition of mind,"

In "The Idea of a University" Newman also speaks of two methods of education. He writes-- "here are two methods of Education; the end of the one is to be philosophical, of the other to be mechanical; the one rises towards general ideas, the other is exhausted upon what is particular and external." It is the philosophical method education that Newman supports and it is the mechanical or commercial method that he opposes.

Newman is universally regarded as the defender of the ideal of a liberal education in opposition to the pressures for utilitarian training. Newman's concern was with the atheistic or diluting effects of the secular disciplines on religion. To him the purpose of education is to attain the intellectual and moral perfection. However, is idea that education is for its own sake is not wholly acceptable to the modern people.


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