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Monday, August 31, 2015

A.C. Grayling: Education should focus on inspiration more than teaching

Eleanor Hall is the voice of ABC Radio at lunchtime.

ELEANOR HALL: He's one of the world's most engaging and prolific philosophers and he is here in Sydney this week to speak at the Festival for Dangerous Ideas.

Photo: A.C. Grayling
A.C. Grayling is professor of philosophy and master of the New College of Humanities in London.

His latest book, "The Challenge of Things: Thinking through Troubled Times" has just been published. And he joined me in the studio a short time ago:

The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times

Professor Grayling thanks so much coming in.

A.C. GRAYLING: Pleasure.

ELEANOR HALL: Now you're speaking at the Sydney Dangerous Ideas Festival and you're topic is education, so I thought that I would begin by asking you what is the most dangerous idea in education today?

A.C. GRAYLING: Well I suppose really that we don't educate in a way to make people's lives good and flourishing and rich. What we do too much of really is to prepare people to be foot soldiers in the economic battle.

So the thing that really makes a difference to the world at large, but is distorting how education is provided is that we want people to make a contribution to GDP. And, if that's the one thing that over rides all other things then you're missing a trick because peoples careers, of course you hope that people have good satisfying careers that they leap out of bed in the morning with great enthusiasm for what they do, but they are also lots of other things too: they're lovers, travellers, neighbours and husbands and parents and voters. And you want them to be educated for everything.

ELEANOR HALL: We're constantly hearing about the importance of science and what we call stem subjects. You're a champion of humanities, which you say teach people to think. Do you think humanities do this really any more than science subjects?

A.C. GRAYLING: No I mean I think both science and humanity subjects teach people to think, and I am a big champion in fact of the stem subjects also because at my college, which is a college of the study of the humanities I require of my students that they do courses in science literacy. They've got to have an intelligent understanding of what's going on in the contemporary areas of science that have the greatest impact on us.

So yes stem subjects are tremendously important, but the point is that the humanities educate people. Stem subjects train them into technical skills. But to educate people's sensibilities, to give them a greatly enriched view of human condition and of human nature, yo give them a broad horizon of human affairs and how other people see things differently, that's what really makes a person, equips them to be ready to live well. 


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Source: ABC Local