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Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind

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Spanning the breadth of his career, from 1939 to 1989, this book is the response from Mortimer J. Adler to the question What can be done about American education? For Adler, the best education is one that offers the best education possible for all.


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Spanning the breadth of his career, from 1939 to 1989, this book is the response from Mortimer J. Adler to the question What can be done about American education? For Adler, the best education is one that offers the best education possible for all.

30 review for Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anna Elizabeth

    My introduction to Adler - and I have to say, I was quite impressed! This book really made me think and changed some of my perceptions on education. From the differences between child and adult education to a philosophical discussion of the meanings of leisure and work to what constitutes a Great Book to implementing Socratic dialogue into the classroom - there were a LOT of topics and ideas of which I had never before considered. I feel my mind opening and expanding.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nuruddin Azri

    Melihatkan fenomena enggan masuk ke sekolah atau universiti yang kian melarat lewat setengah abad ini, sangatlah wajar sama sekali untuk kita meneliti makna pendidikan itu sendiri kerana dengan pendidikanlah sesebuah tamadun itu mampu berkembang maju. Terdapat banyak isu menarik dan signifikan yang dikupas dengan cukup menarik oleh tokoh intelektual awam ini. Antara mesej terbesarnya ialah bagaimana kita hendak menanam erti pendidikan sepanjang hayat dalam diri seseorang graduan universiti usai m Melihatkan fenomena enggan masuk ke sekolah atau universiti yang kian melarat lewat setengah abad ini, sangatlah wajar sama sekali untuk kita meneliti makna pendidikan itu sendiri kerana dengan pendidikanlah sesebuah tamadun itu mampu berkembang maju. Terdapat banyak isu menarik dan signifikan yang dikupas dengan cukup menarik oleh tokoh intelektual awam ini. Antara mesej terbesarnya ialah bagaimana kita hendak menanam erti pendidikan sepanjang hayat dalam diri seseorang graduan universiti usai mereka tamat pengajian di universiti dan memasuki alam pekerjaan. Bermula dari sinilah Adler mengulas satu persatu kerancuan yang wujud dalam sistem pendidikan universiti dan jalan penyelesaiannya. Buku ini pada asalnya hendak menjawab permasalahan yang wujud dalam indoctrinal learning yang digagaskan oleh Allan Bloom dalam karyanya The Closing of The American Mind selain pandangan skeptik Bloom terhadap falsafah moral dan kegagalan Bloom untuk menyentuh mengenai sistem demokrasi dalam pendidikan. Tidak lupa juga, Adler menulis buku ini untuk menerangkan prinsip-prinsip asas dalam gerakan buku-buku agung (great book movement). Jika kita amati graduan lepasan universiti atau kolej pada hari ini, kebanyakan daripada mereka tidak mampu untuk membaca karya-karya agung dalam setiap disiplin ilmu yang wujud. Hal ini berlaku kerana kita sudah dihidangkan dengan bahan yang sudah dicernakan dalam bentuk yang mudah melalui buku teks bagi setiap bidang yang diambil. Jika diberikan buku asal mengenai sesuatu disiplin ilmu tersebut kepada para graduan, sudah tentu mereka gagal memahaminya. Begitu juga kita dapat lihat dengan sistem peperiksaan yang jelas-jelas mempamerkan jurang ilmu yang ada pada seseorang pelajar itu semasa musim peperiksaan dan pada bukan musim peperiksaan. Seandainya diberikan peperiksaan mengejut, pasti jurang yang sama akan wujud. Adler lebih gemar menggunakan istilah karya-karya agung (great books) berbanding karya-karya klasik (classic books) kerana istilah karya agung lebih tepat kerana sesebuah karya agung mempunyai beberapa kriteria dan boleh wujud pada zaman yang terkemudian. Bukan pada zaman dahulukala sahaja. Menurut Mark Twain, karya agung ialah sesebuah buku yang diimpi-impikan oleh semua individu untuk membacanya tetapi tidak ramai yang mampu membacanya in the end. Menurut Carl Van Doren pula, karya agung ialah buku yang tidak perlu ditulis lagi kerana ia sudah sempurna dan tidak mampu ditambah baik lagi. John Erskine pula menyebut ianya merupakan buku yang tahan zaman. Dalam hal ini, Adler menambah lima kriteria lain iaitu: i. Buku yang boleh didiskusikan (Buku teks sudah tentu tidak tergolong dalam kategori ini). ii. Buku yang berbaloi dibaca berulang kali tetapi perlu dibaca banyak kali untuk mendapat kefahaman yang sepenuhnya. iii. Ditulis oleh seorang generalist. Tidak kira dia mempunyai kepakaran dalam bidang tertentu, tetapi tulisannya mampu juga difahami oleh orang awam yang bijak pandai. Bukan sesama golongan mereka sahaja. iv. Cakupan karya agung terbuka kepada semua jenis literatur sama ada berbentuk naratif, imaginasi atau apa jua cabang pembelajaran. Tidak hanya terhad kepada puisi, novel dan drama sahaja. Senarai buku-buku agung yang telah digubah sedikit daripada How To Read A Book menurut penulis ada dikepilkan pada penghujung buku ini. Kata penulis, untuk membaca buku-buku agung ini, sudah tentu memerlukan ilmu-ilmu alatnya iaitu liberal arts. Empat kemahiran asas dalam liberal arts iaitu kemahiran membaca, mendengar, menulis dan bertutur selain ilmu matematik dan kemahiran saintifik merupakan perkara yang wajib dikuasai. Pecahan liberal arts yang lain iaitu trivium-quadrivium (grammar, logic & rhetoric) juga perlu dikuasai semasa di alam persekolahan. Apabila ilmu-ilmu alat ini mampu dikuasai, barulah seseorang individu itu mampu untuk belajar secara terus daripada buku yang dibacanya dan bukan hanya sekadar bergantung kepada gurunya sahaja. Oleh sebab itulah, apabila ilmu alat ini mampu dikuasai, seseorang itu tidak mempunyai masalah untuk belajar apa-apa perkara selepas tamat alam persekolahan. Mereka tidak akan merasakan bahawa pendidikan itu sudah tamat. Malahan, pendidikan itu bagaikan suatu makanan intelektual bagi mereka sebagaimana karbohidrat dan protein menjadi makanan kepada fizikal mereka. Inilah makna seseorang itu sudah membesar dan matang. Mereka berasakan bahawa pendidikan itu bukan merupakan suatu beban atau pekerjaan yang harus dilunaskan. Bahkan pendidikan bagi mereka merupakan satu rutin harian. Waktu bekerja lantas bertukar menjadi waktu mereka belajar dan waktu senggang pula bertukar menjadi waktu mereka bekerja. Ya, dikotomi pendidikan atau pekerjaan itu sering dilihat terpecah kepada liberal training dan vocational training. Lazimnya, apabila seseorang belajar for the sake of learning, mereka terkategori dalam liberal training. Jika mereka belajar for the sake of earning, mereka tergolong dalam kategori vocational training. Ini tidak sedikit pun menunjukkan bahawa sekalian mekanik yang wujud ini hanya mendapat vocational training sahaja. Jika mekanik itu belajar for the sake of learning itself, dia dikira mendapat makna liberal training itu sendiri. Sebelum mengakhiri ulasan ini, pengkategorian Adler dalam istilah pendidikan itu harus kita ketahui. Adler menggunakan istilah pembelajaran (schooling) bagi pelajar sekolah rendah dan istilah pendidikan (education) bagi sekolah menengah kerana pada awal pendidikan biasanya pelajar lebih terdedah kepada indoktrinisasi para guru, ibubapa dan rakan-rakan mereka. Mereka sangat banyak menyerap budaya dan ilmu daripada mereka. Apabila menjengah ke alam alam sekolah menengah, kolej atau universiti, pembelajaran dialektik akan bermula. Lebih awal, lebih baik bagi memarakkan proses berfikir para pelajar. Peperiksaan lisan merupakan satu-satunya eksperimen yang berjaya menguji laras akal dan kefahaman sebenar seseorang pelajar terhadap sesuatu subjek. Beberapa persoalan lain yang perlu disebut di sini mungkin berkenaan falsafah moral yang digagaskan oleh Aristotle. Falsafah moral yang wujud pada zaman terkemudian sama ada dari Kant atau JS Mill (utilitarianisme) sendiri mempunyai permasalahan yang tersendiri. Hampir semua perbahasan falsafah yang wujud pada hari ini merupakan nota kaki kepada tulisan Plato dan individu yang paling banyak menyerap dan menulis nota kaki ini dengan jayanya adalah Aristotle kata Adler. Buku ini sangat penting dalam memahami model pendidikan Adler yang mendapat tempias daripada John Dewey dan seperti biasa, apabila membaca buku Adler, jarang sesuatu bab itu mampu dibiarkan berlalu tanpa ada sedikit pun contengan nota di sebelah halaman tersebut.

  3. 5 out of 5

    'Izzat Radzi

    Adler's primary educational philosophy. He's following closely with the ancient school, of the greats Socrates, Plato & Aristotle in educational philosophy. This book was also criticizing other book in the same issue, primarily Allan Bloom's Closing of American Mind, John Dewey's Democracy and Education, Bernard Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy and the teachings at the Chicago School during his time. His polemics with Lord Russell in 1940 (yes, The Bertrand Russell) here perhaps bes Adler's primary educational philosophy. He's following closely with the ancient school, of the greats Socrates, Plato & Aristotle in educational philosophy. This book was also criticizing other book in the same issue, primarily Allan Bloom's Closing of American Mind, John Dewey's Democracy and Education, Bernard Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy and the teachings at the Chicago School during his time. His polemics with Lord Russell in 1940 (yes, The Bertrand Russell) here perhaps best accompanied it with further read of his other work, Ten Philosophical Mistakes; whilst me personally will go with How to Speak how to Listen next, considering it is closest on my next to-read list. Overall, 8/10. Ps: Reference above are for future me to refer to. No review for this unfortunately.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt Ely

    I've been posting some quotes as I went through this book, something I never do. I was compelled, however, by the depth and originality of Adler's arguments, along with the force of his authorial voice. This is a fellow who knows what he is about and refuses to mitigate his claims. In this series of essays, covering a survey of his work in education from the late 1930's to the late 1980's, Adler argues for a system of education that focuses less on the memorization of facts and more on the devel I've been posting some quotes as I went through this book, something I never do. I was compelled, however, by the depth and originality of Adler's arguments, along with the force of his authorial voice. This is a fellow who knows what he is about and refuses to mitigate his claims. In this series of essays, covering a survey of his work in education from the late 1930's to the late 1980's, Adler argues for a system of education that focuses less on the memorization of facts and more on the development of democratic citizens capable of critical thought and communication. This is borne out of his doubt that students will remember many of the facts they're taught (as adults are similarly forgetful of specifics), but that they can learn how to learn. When given the option, educators should focus on that aspect because it is most likely to stick. He goes in full bore on vocational training and electives in high school. Essentially, he sees them as an underestimation of children, telling them that they are incapable of more rigorous work. This is centered on his perpetual tenet that the best education for the best students is also the best education for all students. By separating students by apparent skill level, we hurt both sides in their perception of themselves. There's too much great material in this volume to summarize. I am sure that he is off base in many respects, and I look forward to reading counter-arguments. But what cannot be denied is his focus on democratic education and, in the Socratic tradition, asking "why" to every educational standard.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    If we could manage to institute Adler's plan for education what a world we would live in. His dream is for every single child to receive the best education possible, no matter their natural abilities or inequities when coming to school. He is firm that education that is free and funded by the state to help each individual become the best he or she can be. He believes this is the core tenet for universal suffrage and would be the best solution for the complex problems confronting our modern age. If we could manage to institute Adler's plan for education what a world we would live in. His dream is for every single child to receive the best education possible, no matter their natural abilities or inequities when coming to school. He is firm that education that is free and funded by the state to help each individual become the best he or she can be. He believes this is the core tenet for universal suffrage and would be the best solution for the complex problems confronting our modern age.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book is a compilation of essays and speeches by the author. I did not read every essay. Of the ones I read I really liked #1 called This Prewar Generation which had some interesting ideas about WWII, #6 Education and the Pursuit of Happiness which I put on my blog and the Epilogue about reading great books. The author is very smart and uses some big words but it was enjoyable.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    If you enjoy books by Adler then you'll really gain a lot from this one. This is a collection of lectures, articles and essays of his, all on the topic of eduction. This book still has a large effect on my life and what I still have left to do. If you enjoy books by Adler then you'll really gain a lot from this one. This is a collection of lectures, articles and essays of his, all on the topic of eduction. This book still has a large effect on my life and what I still have left to do.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Preston Malone

    Mortimer Adler had a brilliant mind that is revealed in all of his books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Doctor VanNostrum

    Adler at his most Adlerian.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Worth rereading & discussing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I highly recomend this book. Adler is an incredible thinker!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Miranda-Flores

    I have read several books by Dr. Adler and like the others, this one will not disappoint.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Edwards

    Good ideas, but his writing style is bit dry.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Awful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Read the essay entitled Liberal Schooling in the 20th Century. http://www.theimaginativeconservative... Read the essay entitled Liberal Schooling in the 20th Century. http://www.theimaginativeconservative...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Beard

  19. 5 out of 5

    lindafay

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hi5pat

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ray Campbell

  23. 4 out of 5

    Don Barbera

  24. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trenton Leach

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie Anselmo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mbaker1788

  28. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Zarif Hassan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cory Kierkegaard

  30. 5 out of 5

    Missy Gibbs pettigrew

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