John Henry Newman’ “idea of a university” clearly determines the purpose of the educational institutions in general. The way he formulates his idea sounds as a perfect way for bringing up an intelligent society with high psychological values. Newman’s suggestion of the importance of focusing all the attention on the students at the university in order to provide them with the most effective knowledge is what can make our society more highly-educated, developed, and well-mannered.
Newman stresses on the importance of the studying process in the university as it helps the students to get better and more various knowledge of different fields despite the fact that the students cannot learn everything about everything, they can always stay in the circle of other students upgrading their understanding of different subjects more.
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I cannot state that Adrienne Rich’s point of view on educational purpose differs drastically from Newman’s. I see a clear parallel between the two of them. The only difference which draws my attention is the importance which is attracted to the subject of men’s and women’s needs in education by Rich. She persuades that all the education which is largely based on the politics which goes back into history of the creation of nation is ‘mainly formed by men and for men’.
Adrienne Rich states that it is vital to make the education suitable for women in order to provide more effective function of the whole nation. She sees education as the subjective experience of men which greatly lacks objectivity and that some sciences even appear to be quite discriminating.
Regarding the views of Newman on education and the claims of Rich of inadequacy of the educational processes, I can state that the first priority for Newman is the efficiency of the educational knowledge. Therefore, he does not make a big difference between male and female students – he focuses just on the results of the educational processes. Newman would not reject the application of more feminine studies which would allow women to have more influence and better opportunities for their development. His position is very democratic until knowledge is accepted as the first and most important priority.
On the other hand, Newman can find Rich’s claims a little bit out of place and consider them a waste of time as he may think that we need to concentrate only on the studying process and results, and say that the knowledge is one for all so no difference is needed. However, when he attends to those claims and see their importance and hear logical proofs, he can agree on implementation of more feminine studies.
In my opinion, Newman’s idea is perfect and if it functioned in our society we would have a different level of living. However, as nothing can be totally perfect, his idea cannot survive in our imperfect society. Contemporary universities are mostly losing their values due to the change of values of students themselves. A few of them still consider education to be a number one priority in our lives, at least not university education. Self-education is another topic.
The inconsistency of the educational system with the needs of our rapid-growing society does not promote the desire of people to obtain educational degree. Most people see education at the higher institutions as a means of getting employed to some average job with average salary which will just allow you to have the vital minimum for living in the future. On the other hand there are many successful businessmen who do perfectly well with little or no of university education, however, having a lot of experience by trying and erring and learning from those errors.
It would be much better if the universities focused more on the real life situations, teaching people only those things which usually only life individually can teach. Giving people a hope for good life and making steps towards showing people different ways to be successful in this life would be more important for most of them than learning what cannot be applied in real life situations. Of course, general knowledge is very important, however, there is self-education for this which should better be motivated by more effective ways.
Contemporary universities serve only those aspects of society which are important for the well-being of the government (which is supposed to protect the whole nation, but does not do it nowadays), and not of the happy lives of its citizens. People are taught how to better serve nation’s needs which often go apart with their own needs.
John Tierney’s point of view is both similar and opposite to what Newman offers. He recognizes the vitality of the education in the higher institutions, however, he stresses, at the same time, that nowadays the educational processes fail to give their students proper knowledge.
Tierney digs more into the problem taking into consideration also the family structures, political situation, and surroundings where the person is brought up. He states that these factors add up a lot to whether the student will be eager to study or not, whether ‘he will drop out or not’. From this point of view, we can say that Tierney’s ideas are like Rich’s ideas as both of them try to think broader and satisfy the needs of people from different social levels, of different genders. As well as Newman, Tierney talks about focusing on each child to achieve the best results possible: “We are going to keep focused on helping every child achieve grade level and growing the school system so that the school’s can be supported by the leadership that you have here”.
These three opinion are quite complementary and if implemented altogether, the results will be a successful education that improves real life conditions of each person apart and society in general.
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