From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, knowledge was a category that received most controversial. During the period of about ten centuries, although intellectuals have been viewed from different perspectives, it’s basically the whole person, with a broad knowledge and flexible application skills in the areas. This concept has been the foundation of general education (liberal education), rising from the 19th century (Newman, 1852, Discourse 7).
In ‘The idea of a university’ published in 1858, John Henry Newman – a British Catholic cardinal – summarized the university after enlightenment is a place of exchange and circulation of ideas, made by personal communication, widespread at the national level. This ideal has still inspired our time when options for individual communication through the internet have been almost limitless. But the Cardinal had a warning: If it did not touch the level of personalization, higher education could become ‘a block of ice, petrified’. That’s what the new wave of online courses high technology should not become, but the alternative means for higher education model currently has been overloaded and expensive. And it will be possible prosperous rather than withering in the near future. In a general way, the thought of Newman made real and right progress. Therefore, I agree with Newman’s assertions regarding changes to their education, the reasons shown below:
In Discourse V, Newman insists that the universities need to organize a large number of subjects for student. He asserts: ‘Though they cannot pursue every subject which is open to them, they will be gainers by living among those and under those who represent the whole circle. This I conceive to be the advantage of the seat of universal learning’. It means the students can’t study the whole subjects given by the universities but they can study particular subjects to improve their own learning. In addition, they can rely on their assistance’s friends for studies, not only on their teachers. It is actually a new method of study that are good for both students and teachers in proactive approach to knowledge, creativity, and the spirit of teamwork for students. He states that: ‘He [the student] apprehends the great outline of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shade, its great points its little, as he otherwise cannot apprehend them’. He suggests that students can understand the full knowledge holistically, without understanding all of the constituents within it. Through the formation of ideas, thoughts and perspectives, they would have been helpful information for themselves. This is really a helpful perspective avoiding rote, reducing curriculum load, and just focusing on the main parts, really useful for students. Next, in discourse 7, Newman cites some studies and opinions of Mr. Davision, Mr. Edgeworth,… about Education and views Liberal Education as an ‘useful’ and ‘utility’. According to him, ‘Utility may be made the end of education, in two respects: either as regards the individual educated, or the community at large.’ He really focused on the effectiveness and purpose of the universities, which is to educate individuals in particular and society in general. Purpose of higher education can’t be outside this scope because students who are the future owners of the country must be comprehensively educated to be able to gain useful knowledge and perfect personalities.
British considers general education as the main objective of the university, so the thesis of Newman is indeed a source of great moral and facility for education of this country more and more complete and developed. According to Robert Anderson Professor of History (University of Edinburgh), Newman’s thought was the foundation creating British identity with the conviction that education produced the whole person (generalists), not just the experts who only knew their field (narrow Specialists). In fact, Newman’s ideas greatly influenced the British education, made education the focus on targets as mentioned above. His views about education are still being applied in many universities in this country today.
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