Information about the author and his time: Whitehead (1861-1974) is a British mathematician, philosopher and educator. He used to be a teacher at University of Cambridge, University of London, Imperial College and Harvard University. He work on education in physics, mathematics, philosophy etc. and also engaged in educational management work of some word-class collage. Whitehead has impacted on various subjects’ progress in his academic achievement. His educational theory guide education practices at different levels, crossing Atlantic from Britain to America, from Cambridge to Harvard. He makes a marvelous effort to human educational affairs in his lifelong. Whitehead has written many influential academic books referring to many territories. Principia Mathematical about philosophy, math and mathematic logic which was cooperatively written by White and Russell is a milestone in logical mathematic progress. This book, The Aim of Education, I read, focus on a series of thinking about philosophical education.
A summary of the book: In this book, Whitehead’s theory includes many aspects about education experience. There is humanistic education like linguistic, literature, history and art, and scientific education like math, physic, chemistry and biological. There is general academic education, and also have professional skill’s education. Additionally, Whitehead utilized his rigorous logical thinking and profound philosophical accomplishment to criticize many question existing in educational theory. There is observation about basic education and reflection of higher education. There is criticism about school’s internal curriculum and teaching method and advice for literature and system of nation.
Comments on the book: The first chapter’s key point is about The Aims of Education. Whitehead straightly point out that ‘In training a children to active of thought, above all things we must beware of what I will call inert ideas —that’s to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations.’ This core view throughout the whole book, and is also the logical origin of illustrating educational questions. From this view, to avoid inert idea needs to use knowledge combining practice, confirmation and full use. From reading this book, I think how to treat and use knowledge is realistic question that we need to deal with it. Why I start reading this book is I want to be a teacher that my student in my class can obtain both happiness and relating knowledge. From this chapter, I get to know that education is to make student deeply comprehend the magic power of knowledge, the charming spot of education and basic logic of education. Then through education, students should command at least a kind of specialized knowledge and utilize it into themselves daily life.
The second chapter is generally about the rhythm of education. Whitehead thinks one man’s intelligence progress from the whole educational sphere. He point out that intelligence is different in every stage of absorb knowledge, so it’s important to obey key teaching strategy in each stage. I pretty agree that study includes three stages containing the stage of romance, the stage of precision and the stage of generalization. Romance, precision and generalization here are the characters of intelligent development not just focusing on literary emotional questions or operating questions. We should carefully consider that in different stage or period, a student tends to memorize or imagine, inclines to linguistics or science, tries to conclude or illustrate. Only in this way student’s intelligence needs can be met, and can really meet student’s mental maturity. Generally speaking, as a teacher one should try his best to make up a system of knowledge, and should cooperate different educational factors in different stages to motivate students to obtain study’s instant inner value. For example, in students’ adolescence, students mostly settle their character. How to spend their teenage, how to define ambitious and what king of dream should own are deciding one teenager’s road of afterlife. For another example, the study of middle school students and college students should have the essential difference. Vividly speaking, middle school students are sitting by the table to gain knowledge while college students need to stand up and look around. One middle school student in senior level gradually learns from specific to abstract, however, an undergraduate at college level should try to utilize knowledge from normal to specific. One man’s intellective development is collective with its inner discipline. What we ought to finish is to be practical and realistic in thinking various questions. The educational contain and measure that we adopt should meet the rhythm of education. As course itself, the main difficult problems are not how to arrange so many different subjects but how to explore intelligence from root. What really need to arrange is achieve different capacity through educational procedure. All in all, the definition of the rhythm of education is explore student’s intelligent progress in different developing stage, seeking proper time, adopting proper measure, using them into relative course. The rhythm of education circularly walks through the whole progress of teaching. Whitehead uses a strict way like natural science to portray the fundamental question for us. What I said above is what I learned and comprehended from the book, Aims of Education.