The Idea of a University

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The Idea of a University

In John Henry Newman’s, “The Idea of a University”, Newman concentrates on the purpose of a university. In fact, he categorically suggests that it is most vital to center attention to students attending the university when he claims that, “it is a great point then to enlarge the range of studies which a university professes, even for the sake of the students” (Newman 52). According to his assertion, he does not only view university as a place where people can acquire professional knowledge, but also a place where people enrich their spirits and learn techniques of seeking truth in life. This opinion is absolutely true regarding a university since a university will always act as a teaching ground for a student, not only in acquiring professional knowledge, but also in attaining some principles regarding life. Therefore, it is not just one kind of study that a student will obtain from going to a university but a range of them.

Newman affirms that, “though they cannot pursue every subject which is open to them, they will be gainers by living among those and under those who represent the whole circle. This I conceive to be the seat of universal learning” (Newman 52). In this assertion, Newman is of the perspective that although not every student will have a chance of learning all those subjects; however, being just around other students enhances their learning. This is very true since students are capable of acquiring knowledge through their peers; although a learner is not capable of studying certain subjects in class, he can learn them from other students, which is an advantage to the fellow students. Thus, the university should be viewed as an institution of universal learning since every student can learn from fellow students.

The students learn to depend on each other for any assistance in their studies and indeed, advance in their studies and contribute to the world later. Students do not view teachers as their only source of acquiring knowledge but also their fellow students. The minds of the students are not focused narrowly on one subject only but tend to be exceedingly open minded. Newman asserts that, “He apprehends the great outline of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shade, its great points, its little, as he otherwise cannot apprehend them” (Newman 53). Students can acquire knowledge without fully understanding it and later have access to more information, which they utilize to formulate ideas and opinions.

Newman is of the idea that vocational-driven education is not helpful to an individual since it only confines an individual to a small room. Originating from the developments of the society, more individuals are now viewing the value of studying in the university. Individuals are seeing the need of going to the university because they usually see it as the first step to gaining success in life. Although holding a university degree certificate in a major subject like Finance, Accounting and Economics, is viewed as key in obtaining a good job, it is not a good idea since it represents specialization. This is according to Newman, where he states that, “if his reading is confined simply to one subject…a point into which I do not here enter, certainly it has a tendency to contract his mind” (Newman 52). Here, he implies that, the moment an individual focuses on one particular subject, he is not capable of thinking about a .............


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