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Whitehead's Benedictine Ideal in Education: Rhythms of listening, reading and work



The article attempts to clarify the appeal to the Benedictine ideal that Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) makes in The Aims of Education and Other Essays as a way to renew the life of the spirit in education. In particular, the essay will consider St. Benedict's three central themes of Whitehead's philosophy: freedom and discipline, the teacher as artist and the art of life, and universities as workshops or homes of creative energy. The aim is to bring about a harmony of thought and action, the mind to the feelings of the heart, to subordinate scientific or critical pedagogy to aesthetic-spiritual instruction. This deserves our attention because today's educational theories and practices emphasize the technical, the critical, and the social sides to the neglect of the aesthetic-spiritual side. On both its practical and theoretical side, the educational theory of Whitehead falls within the Benedictine tradition of ora (meditative reading) and labora (work).