Paideia and Modern Educational Policy Essay

Paideia and Modern Educational Policy Essay

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Paideia and Modern Educational Policy

ABSTRACT: The lofty ideals of the classical notion of paideia, and the restatement of those principles in 1982 by Mortimer Adler and the 'paideia group' remain an unfulfilled promise in terms of the actualities of public education in the United States. The notion of an educational system for all students built upon a rigorous curriculum manifesting a framework of values to be acted out in the public and democratic forum continues to have great attraction for educators. Indeed, the notion of paideia continues to carry a sense of urgency as it should. However, the actual task of creating systems devoted to these ideals has run headlong into a political labyrinth generated by the conflict between conservative (technical/authoritative) political thought and liberal (teaching/learning theory) application. The political seductiveness of the trend towards 'standardization' currently in vogue throughout the United States (both locally and nationally) works counter to the classroom-centered/teacher-student encounter needed to educate students capable of interacting meaningfully in their social and political world. The use of the 'standard' to teach and to measure students carries the authority of the technical and reinforces the stereotype of intellectual elitism. To bring balance to this conflict and create an apolitical design requires attention to the meditative role of the teacher and the nature of learning.

There was a fundamental tension embedded in the earliest appropriation of the Greek paideia by early Christianity which continues to be acted out upon the political/ educational stage today. That tension is between valuing knowledge (text) considered as object as opposed to valuing und...

... middle of paper ...

...the object, but rather its formative power which leads to understanding is the paideia of the modern classroom just as it was for Gregory of Nyssa.


Adler, Mortimer. The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto. New York, MacMillan Publishing Co. 1982.

Alter, Jonathan. "Chicago's Last Hope." Newsweek, June 22, 1998.

Ben-Hur, Meir. Mediation of Cognitive Competencies for Students in Need. Phi Delta Kappan. May, 1998.

Bowers, C.A. The Promise of Theory. New York. Teachers College Press. 1984.

Eisner, E. Teaching as Art and Craft. Educational 1983 Leadership, Vol. 40, January.

Heidegger, M. On the Way to Language. New York:Harper and Row, 1974.

Gardner, J. The Unschooled Mind. New York, HarperCollins, Publisher, 1991.

Jaeger, J. Early Christianity and Greek Paideia. Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1961.

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