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Liberal Anxieties and Liberal Education (Annual New York Review of Books…
by Alan Ryan
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0809065398, Hardcover)Alan Ryan has written an instructive collection of essays on the state of contemporary education. As a professor of politics and history who has taught in the United States and his native England, Ryan possesses both firsthand experience as an educator and broad familiarity with the history of educational literature. This makes him an intriguing guide through the vexing topics that collectively form the "crisis" that has faced education ever since Socrates and the Sophists tangled over what education entailed several millennia ago. As a historian, Ryan can assure his readers that our contemporary concerns over the content and purpose of liberal education are not new ones. His focus is largely on 19th- and early 20th-century educational history and the development of the modern university--what is now called "post-secondary education." Ryan is particularly adept at drawing out the interplay of liberal political desires that have shaped these institutions and the reformist educational agendas of thinkers such as John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and Bertrand Russell. The result is an improved sense of historical continuity to the seeming drift of contemporary approaches to educational reform. But it is Ryan's own experience as a practitioner of the subject that he studies that gives verve to these three essays, and it is his insight as a teacher, rather than the subtlety of his theses, that offers greater instruction. --Joshua Petersen
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:06 -0400)
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