Adrian Hindes

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I’m a second year undergraduate mathematics and physics student at the Australian National University. I’m primarily studying pure mathematics, but I’ve also had more than my fair share of experience in physics research thanks to a weird crazy course structure I have.

I’m also really interested in complex systems, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and network theory. Basically lots of weird wacky areas of science, not usually covered in university courses.

Aside from science and maths, I’m also a bookworm and am slowly working my way through the “Great Books of the Western World”. I take particular interest in Greek mythology at the moment, but I’m also fascinated by psychology thanks to Jordan Peterson. Oh, I also really like writing; blogs, fiction (occassionally) and essays on books/movies/games.

Has anyone else read really interesting books by educational reformers?

Weird specific question. I’ve been recommended Leo Strauss which I intend to read asap, but it seems like people like Strauss, Adler and Dewey certainly leave a great impression. I wonder if other educational reformers, past or present have also left similar impressions on any of you?

Topics: Philosophy, Education
Books: Mortimer Adler - How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler - How to Speak, How to Listen, Mortimer Adler - How to Think About the Great Ideas, John Dewey - Democracy and Education, John Dewey - Experience and Education


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David Wu

I’m really enjoying Adler’s “How to Read a Book”. It’s much more than simple it’s title, it’s the Trivium, and the basis for a liberal education. Looking to get more into Dewey, Piaget etc. even want to learn more about Montessori. Never heard of Strauss until now though.

I’m liking the entrepreneurship-based approaches to unschooling too. People like Dale Stephens, and Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires

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David Wu

@Nick Redmark

I’ve always been interested in learning more about Waldorf and Steiner. I love the idea of the comprehensive education, especially the more art and humanities side of things and how they build a more complete human being. The sect/fundamentalist side seems to be a downside though, especially with your soccerball example. I’m wondering if we can somehow use what we gained from Steiner, but not have it be so dogmatic.

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Nick Redmark

Btw. Paul went to a Waldorf School too, if you missed his comment 😃

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Nick Redmark

Well, funnily enough, Rudolf Steiner could be called an educational reformer. He founded the so-called Waldorf Schools, which I went to. Besides the strongly spiritual/mystic world-view, which informs all aspects of the educational curriculum (teachers try not to avoid talking about the world-view itself because that would be indoctrination), it has some really interesting educational concepts:

  • A strong focus on the individual and its uniqueness.
  • An emphasis of the full education of the human being, so additionally to the intellectual side, the artistic and practical/artisanal side.
  • An emphasis on freedom of initiative that is reflected at all levels (individual students, teachers, classes and schools can come up with their own projects quite freely)
  • A lot of contact with nature
  • A lot of performances - seriously, you get over stage fright at 7
  • A curriculum that takes into account the mental evolution of the person: e.g. focusing on fairy tales first, then fables, then myths, and only very late approaching things analytically/rationally

An aspect I always found interesting is that you have the same subject every morning until 10 for 4 weeks and then you are allowed to kinda “forget” it and allow it to rest until it’s the subject’s turn again, maybe half a year later.

The downsides: Being somewhat of a sect (i.e. there is only one source of authority: Steiner himself) it is inherently rigid. The teachers try to avoid teaching what they actually believe in but it does transpire in various ways (e.g. a biology teacher being skeptical about pure evolution and talking about a variant of intelligent design - all in all I don’t think I was damaged too much by that). And it has some relatively harmless but weird quirks that people “from the outside” would not understand, e.g. soccer is frowned upon because kicking a ball is like symbolically kicking Earth, or compulsory eurythmy classes.