Friday, August 20, 2010

Education and the Good Life, Introduction

Introduction (pages 7-11)

The book opens with a personal cri de couer: “There must be in the world many parents who, like the present author, have young children whom they are anxious to educate as well as possible, but reluctant to expose to the evils of most existing educational institutions [p. 7].” The alternative of home schooling deprives children of companionship, and makes them feel that they are odd. Rich parents need only to find one accessible, acceptable school, but working-class parents need general educational reforms to ensure that they can secure a good education for their children. Surely different parents will have strikingly different views about what reforms would be desirable. Nevertheless, advances in psychology and pedagogy offer advice that should receive broad assent – advice that is especially relevant for the education of very young children.

The book will proceed by looking at the goals of education, and makes a distinction between the education of character and the acquisition of knowledge, though these are not entirely independent elements. The early years will receive a good deal of attention; eventually, however, the discussion will comprise all of the years of formal education, through university. Learning beyond the years of schooling will not be addressed, though early education should be heavily concerned with making people capable of life-long learning through experience.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Next Up: Education and the Good Life

The Reading Bertrand Russell Plan calls now for a summentary on Education and the Good Life – and as I am not adept at quick plan alterations, I will stick with Plan A.

Education and the Good Life was published in 1926 in New York by Boni & Liveright; my copy is a hardback from the second printing, which was issued, like the first printing, in May, 1926. Apparently, Education and the Good Life is the US version of a book that was published in London by George Allen & Unwin earlier in 1926 under a different title, On Education, Especially in Early Childhood. (The Russell bibliography by Blackwell and Ruja indicates that the American printing, in addition to a new title, omitted an index that the British edition contained.) The book was offered in abridged form in 1961 as Education of Character. Russell and his wife Dora opened their Beacon Hill School in 1927; five years later, with this experience in hand, Russell published a second book on education, Education and the Social Order.

Education and the Good Life contains an Introduction followed by nineteen chapters – the chapters are distributed among three parts, the middle of which (“Education of Character” – the basis of the 1961 abridgment – ) is by far the longest. Here are the sections and chapters:


Part I: Education and the Good Life
Chapter I: Postulates of Modern Education Theory
Chapter II: The Aims of Education

Part II: Education of Character
Chapter III: The First Year
Chapter IV: Fear
Chapter V: Play and Fancy
Chapter VI: Constructiveness
Chapter VII: Selfishness and Property
Chapter VIII: Truthfulness
Chapter IX: Punishment
Chapter X: Importance of Other Children
Chapter XI: Affection and Sympathy
Chapter XII: Sex Education
Chapter XIII: The Nursery-School

Part III: Intellectual Education
Chapter XIV: General Principles
Chapter XV: The School Curriculum Before Fourteen
Chapter XVI: Last School Years
Chapter XVII: Day Schools and Boarding Schools
Chapter XVIII: The University
Chapter XIX: Conclusion

Onwards, then, to Education and the Good Life.