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Great Educator: Confucius 551 to 479 BCE

Confucius, or K’ung-fu-tzu, married at the age of 19, got employed as a storekeeper and later as a superintendent of parks and herds. He established a private school when he was about 30 years old (522 BCE) and gained a reputation for his expertise in ‘rituals’.

“If one loves humanness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is folly; if one loves understanding but does not love learning, the consequence of this is unorthodoxy; if one loves good faith but does not love learning, the consequence of this is damaging behaviour; if one loves straight forwardness but does not love learning, the consequence is rudeness; if one loves courage but does not love learning, the consequence of this is rebelliousness; if one loves strength but does not love learning the consequence of this is violence.”

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Great Educator: Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 to 1797

Mary Wollstonecraftleft home after receiving a haphazard education in a miserable and unloving family situation. She spent the next nine years in some of the few occupations open to unmarried women at that time. First she was a companion to a widow in Bath. Next, with the help of a sister and close friend, she established and ran a school for girls; then when that venture had to close, she became a governess.

“The most perfect education, in my opinion, is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart. Or, in other words, to enable the individual to attain such habits of virtue as well render it independent. In fact, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of it’s own reason”

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Great Educator: Thomas Henry Huxley 1825 to 1895

Thomas Henry Huxley’s research was so impressive that in 1851 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; this however brought him no income. After a considerable career in the Navy as a voyaging surgeon, he left it to carry on his career in science.

Surely it would be the most undesirable thing in the world that one half of the population of this country should be accomplished men of letters with no tincture of science, and the other half should be men of science with no tincture of letters ?

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Inclusive Education and the Dialogue of Learning

I have been thinking about the nature of education and having been familiar with the noble aspects of this tenet of human society, I have not thought much about the negatives which it can manifest as. Francis Bacon is often attributed with having said ‘Knowledge is Power’. Regardless of who first said this, what is obvious is that it has become common currency as a phrase.

There are various ways in which this can be interpreted but one I like, which is not so commonly encountered is ‘Knowledge is only power when it is shared’. It was Francis Benton who told me this when she kindly consulted on the Ragged project at its inception.

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The Ways in Which We Do Things…

I was recently made aware of the most amazing practical demonstration of what motivation involves. Whilst reading through Andy Cranwell’s website, it struck me as interesting the way he approaches team building. He makes reference to The Fun Theory through, amongst other things, the piano stairs. This video is an impressive example of how the perception of the task defines the response to it. This rings true to me on a number of levels…

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Where to Begin

I have been thinking about what to make the first entry of my Ragged University Blog. Since the start of this project I have enjoyed the fact that it compels me to find out about all the people in the world who have been great teachers, learners and thinkers. Learning about learning if you like. But what an infinite task. Do I take the great famous names still studied today for their contributions? Do I look to marvelously motivated people who invented or innovated ?

Do I look for the people who have taken the time to develop me as a person, advising me and giving that all important constructive criticism and support ? Do I look at the awe-inspiring collaborations of countless individuals who form great institutions and libraries enriching, the whole of society ?…. Read more