Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Way of Classical Education
Mortimer Adler is considered by many scholars to be the most significant reformer of teaching and learning in modern American education. Praised as a champion of liberal arts education, Adler desired to make the great ideas, the great books, and the great conversation accessible to the masses. Adler’s unique contribution to humane learning continues to influence private and public education for students of all ages.
Adler is known as one of the fathers of the modern great books movement, a movement that continues to inspire the renewal of liberal arts education today. Organizations such as the Great Books Foundation and the National Paideia Center are evidence of Adler’s ongoing legacy. There also are numerous classical Christian schools and collegiate great books programs across the globe that bear Adler’s mark.
In this book, Dr. Robert M. Woods examines the foundations, characteristics, contours, and real-life applications of Adler’s proposal for Paideia education. This volume is thus a helpful introduction to and overview of the life, writings, and teaching philosophy of Mortimer Adler, a thinker who authored and edited some of the most influential books about education in the twentieth century. This book seeks to provide a gateway into understanding Adler’s important educational contributions and hopefully will entice readers to continue their study of this giant in the history of education.
Without some joy in learning—the joy that arises from hard work well done and from the participation of one’s mind in a common task—basic schooling cannot initiate the young into the life of learning, let alone give them the skill and the incentive to engage in it further. Only the student whose mind has been engaged in thinking for itself is an active participant in the learning process that is essential to basic schooling.
—Mortimer Adler, The Paideia Proposal
Dr. Robert M. Woods holds a BA in biblical studies and ministry from Point University, an MA in religious studies from Barry University, and a PhD in humanities from Florida State University. After developing and chairing the Great Books Honors College at Faulkner University for over fifteen years, he is now the headmaster at Veritas Christian Academy in Fletcher, North Carolina. He also enjoys consulting and speaking about how to implement Adler’s Paideia approach in classical schools.