THE PERFECT EDUCATION by Kenneth E. Eble

THE PERFECT EDUCATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The pedagogical battle rages and now a utopian title enters the lists. At the moment, there are three influential movements: the Conant administrative proposals, Bruner's weighty psychological discussions, and Paul Goodman's free-play approach. What one needs, it seems, is a synthesis of contending theories, and that Professor Eble has undertaken the project, however modestly, makes for a good measure of interest. For despite appearances, The Perfect Education is not a reckless catch-all; on the contrary, it is a sensible, well-reasoned critique, placing the whole structure of secondary and higher learning into valuable perspective, and marred only by a style which has an unfortunate tendency of lapsing into exhortative banalities. But that is perhaps inevitable given the committed tenor of the work as a whole. A summarizing example: ""A perfect education would...steadily work to develop feelings as well as manual and mental skills.... Its energies would be as directed to the development of the whole self as to the pursuit of partial, objective truth. It would stand against any subject that could not generate a sense of its worth and against any student who could not express a feeling for his subject."" The professor opts for Thoreau over Skinner behaviorism; he quotes aptly from Huizinga and Whitehead; there are fresh formulations accenting both freedom and discipline, the uses of ""natural inclination"" and classroom procedures which foster student response. A bit elliptical at times, but in the main the recommendations are sharp and sound.

Publisher: Macmillan