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The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0020641001
ISBN-10: 0020641001
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About the Author

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (September 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020641001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020641001
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,978,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the American philosopher Mortimer Adler's attempt to apply his philosophy to real-world problems. His biggest concern was the inability of the educational system to teach children to think (as opposed to memorizing a string of mind-numbing facts). To accomplish this goal he, along with education professionals, developed a program based on the Socratic method of teaching.
For example, one exercise might consist of the following instructions from the teacher:
"Today I am going to show an object to you and I want you to just look at it for one minute in absolute silence, At the end of that time, please write what you saw first and what question you have about the object. Remember, no talking, because once someone talks it disrupts and alters the others' thinking."
This is a book with ideas that will challenge the way you have always thought about education. Indeed, it will make you question what our educational system is doing. If the purpose of an education is the creation of a well-rounded individual who questions and reasons and analyzes, then one will have to conclude that it has been an abject failure. Indeed, our society is increasingly split along two lines - a well-educated, erudite group that has developed a mocking attitude toward traditional conventions and manners and a non-educated group that carries a growing anti-intellectual bias.
For further information about the Paidea Proposal, you can visit the Radical Academy Site. As a father who has seen his son prosper under such a program, I would recommend that any parent seriously interested in obtaining a true education for their child explore the possibilites presented in this book.
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Format: Paperback
When Mortimer Adler wrote this book, he was Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica. His purpose was to encourage a transformation in public education.

As a lifelong learner and a teacher, what I found most valuable in Adler's book is his concept of the three elements of learning: (a) the acquisition of knowledge, (b) the ability to apply it, and (c) the capacity to use it to deepen understanding.

In simple, straightforward language, Alder describes (a) why we need to teach all of the students in the first twelve years of schooling to do all three (i.e., acquire, apply, and deepen), not just the first and second as is most often the case, and (b) how to do it.

This simple but profound book helped me to become a better teacher and lifelong learner. It can do the same for you.

Robert E. Levasseur, Ph.D., president of MindFire Press ([...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mortimer Adler's "Paideia Proposal," ("paideia" means "education" in Greek) is a book which intends to offer a stern antidote to many "progressive" ideas in education. One might call Adler an educational conservative - an "essentialist" who believes that education is of value in itself (and should not be justified by its utilitarian value). Adler also believes in the value of a liberal arts education for all, the role of order and discipline in education, and the value of cultivating the intellect as the primary goal of k-12 education.

Adler's Paideia proposal "breaks" education into three types which students should receive in equal measure:

(a) knowledge acquisition: this is where direct teacher/student instruction goes on, and where the student learns to store and recall facts.

(b) developing of intellectual skill: this is where the student "learns by doing," and practices the skill under the teacher's facilitation.

(c) increase in understanding and insight: this is where students learn to evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and create ideas from ideas. Students engage in teacher-led discussion and reflections while learning "higher order thinking" skills.

I agree with these goals, but disagree much with Adler's approach. A key criticism I have of Adler's writing is that, like many philosophers of education, he speaks of students as they exist in theory rather than in practice, and tends to see them as a big monolithic group (while he says he doesn't).

Put differently and bluntly, if I had a child, I might be tempted to send it to a Paidiea school, but would be hesitant to suggest that every child should be forced into this model.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Adler (of Encyclopedia Brittanica and the Great Book series fame) lays out his vision for a Liberal Arts basic schooling program. He argues that basic schooling should teach students how to learn for themselves through the study of a program of core courses and that the same course of study should be taken by all. Only in this way can we as individuals and as a free and democratic society have the means and the wisdom to manage our own destiny.

Of particular benefit is his concept of the three different categories of education, that of content knowledge, intellectual skill, and enlarged understanding of ideas and values. Each one is essential for a complete education, and each one requires a different type of mode to instruct properly. One cannot teach intellectual skill in the same manner that one teaches content knowledge. This section has revolutionized and dramatically improved my ability to teach high school math and physics, and it is applicable to all disciplines.

I buy these books 5-10 at a time and give them as gifts to fellow teachers. A good companion to this book is Robert Hutchins' The Great Conversation.
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