Challenges to Utilitarian Education: Arnold & Newman…

Michael Griffith: Home Page- Literature and Life Summer 2023

This week we explored the ways in which writers and artists in the Victorian Age tried to undermine the prevailing utilitarian views on education. We have seen this presented very strongly in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times with his emphasis on the importance of Wonder and Imagination as counters to a world run on facts.


Matthew Arnold takes up Dickens’s cudgels with his radical vision of the way that a young Oxford Scholar decides to give up his ambition for “preferment” (prefer me! prefer me!) and embarks on a quest to learn the wisdom of the gypsies. And in the process, Matthew Arnold gives voice to his sense of what is so wrong with the stressed out way that modern people (including us!!) lead their lives.

John Henry (Cardinal) Newman, in very different ways repeats this message, but within the hallowed halls of the University. Newman believes that the University is a…

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