The Use of Imagination: Educational Thought and the Literary Mind

The Use of Imagination: Educational Thought and the Literary Mind

The Use of Imagination: Educational Thought and the Literary Mind

The Use of Imagination: Educational Thought and the Literary Mind

Excerpt

This book is addressed to two classes of readers, those interested in literature and those interested in education. In particular it is intended for those whose concern is with literature in education, not as a part of the curriculum, as a subject to be taught, but as a source of life and ideas. It is with the aim of making literature accessible to education in this way that I have examined the works of several great writers from Coleridge to the present day. I have chosen writers who seem to me especially well qualified to offer educational enlightenment. I hope that I have done at least the beginnings of justice to the variety of these writers. I hope too that I have shown among them a certain unity of intention, a certain community of conception as to the nature, ends and means of education. These writers, I am convinced, compose a single, coherent tradition, both literary and educational.

The method is that initiated by Coleridge in his Treatise on Method. There he conducts his argument on the nature of intellectual method by means of an analysis of Hamlet. Accordingly I have discussed each of a series of educational themes through an examination of the work of an author, or a small group of authors, which appears peculiarly relevant to it. Frequently the association will be self-explanatory, as in Wordsworth and the Growth of the Mind, or The Literary Critic and the Education of an Elite or The Writer and the Child. Elsewhere the connection may be less direct; but although I am far from claiming that the theme I have selected to accompany any particular writer is the only pertinent one, I hope that in every case the reader will be able to conclude that my choice is a natural and not an arbitrary one.

I am and have been conscious throughout, that literature is literature and not an illustration of educational ideas. But I believe that there are in the manifold richness of a major literary work--when, and only when, it is enjoyed, intelligently read as literature--elements, values, meanings, feelings, incomparably . . .

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