The Paideia School

The Paideia School represents the new paradigm for the public schools. Mortimer J. Adler and the Paideia Group wrote three books outlining the principles of the new paradigm: the proposal, the program, and problems and possibilities.

The members of the Paideia Group are 11 distinguished authors and leaders at colleges, universities and in public school systems.

The Paideia Proposal outlines the objectives, means and manner of operation of the Paideia School.

The Paideia Program provided a syllabus for the courses.

The third book, Paideia Problems and Possibilities, outlines the manner of operation of the Paideia School. These books declared the kinds of learning (knowledge, skills, understanding) will determine the method of teaching (lecture, coaching or Socratic dialogue). In turn, the method of teaching will determine the number of students in a class, the size of the room, the kind of furniture, and the arrangement of the furniture.

Again, the kind of learning will determine the length of a class period of a particular subject. The matter of a particular subject will determine the order and sequence of instruction.

A general picture of the whole operation is as follows:

Kinds of learning: skills; Method: coaching; Number: few; Class size: small; Room size: small.

But if the kind of learning is knowledge, the other components become: lecture; many; large and large.

Or with understanding: Socratic dialogue; few; small; small.

Furniture arrangement could mean tables in a circle or square; or desks in rows.

Lastly, one aside with regard to teaching the four language arts skills should suffice:

All four skills must be taught. According to Adler, “When one or another of a series of courses is lost or neglected, the remaining skills become swollen or enfeebled.”

When the language skills are not taught as a unit, at all levels; or are not taught in accordance with the natural process of learning; or are not taught by coaching; or are taught in the wrong time block; they are not learned or are not learned well.

Thus, these skills degenerate and become dull exercises for pedants.

Dr. Lewis Rutherford