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The educational thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge studied in the light of his own times

Daniels, Eric (1968) The educational thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge studied in the light of his own times. Masters thesis, Durham University.



IN each age there has arisen a small number of thinkers who have analysed the prevailing philosophies of their age and who have formulated educational principles which if followed would lead to an ideal valued by such thinkers. Yet educational thought is often coloured by social, political and even economic considerations. In their turn such considerations are themselves effected by world events. Consequently the early part of this thesis examines the broad effects upon thinking which took place at the time of the French and Early Industrial Revolutions. A man such as Coleridge was alive to the fact that old traditions were being questioned as a new and mechanical philosophy came into being. He looked to thinkers of his age for guidance on the nature and indeed the rights of man.The thoughts of such men as Descartes, Locke and Hartley each had their formative effect in turn. Yet we see how by intuition and self examination, Coleridge was able to see the limitation of the line of thought of which they are representative figures. Due in part to his own education and the wide and varied reading which he undertook and due also to his knowledge of scientific progress as well as literature he was able to see the dangers of arid materialism which he saw in the world around him. In common with other romantics he was a protagonist of the imagination and intuition. He saw that those who appealed to reason or the intellect only were considering only a part of man and that any true basis for education should consider the 'whole' nature of man. In accordance with this idea of the whole man Coleridge saw the value of an education which took into account the child's sense of wonder and fed this sense with works of true imagination. Any system which did not take account of this would stifle any potential in the child. The child would learn much for itself, it was the teacher's responsibility to aid the learning till ultimately all knowledge was seen as one organic unity. As Coleridge developed these views so his appreciation of the educational practice of his time changed. He was an early advocator of Bell's Monitorial System but he later saw its severe limitations. His interest in the relationship between Church and State led him to write about an ideal in which the Church had responsibility for the nation's learning and was seen as the leaven which leavened the lump of society. Coleridge's writings of the whole nature of man and the value of the unconscious and of introspection are shown to be prophetic of much later psychological theory. In particular the similarity to later Gestalt psychology is noted. Finally, since Coleridge was critical of Utilitarian philosophies, the thought of several later nineteenth century thinkers is examined. The similarity between some of Coleridge's and Matthew Arnold's ideas can hardly be coincidental, and John Stuart Mill, perhaps best known as an ardent Benthamite also recognised much of value in Coleridge's thought.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Education
Thesis Date:1968
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:20

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