The Pursuit of Wisdom and Happiness in Education

Historical Sources and Contemplative Practices

By Sean Steel

Subjects: Philosophy Of Education, Education, Philosophy, Contemplative Studies
Paperback : 9781438452128, 362 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438452135, 362 pages, June 2014

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Table of contents

1. Stating the Problem: The Loss of Wisdom in the Modern World
2. Aristotle’s Understanding of Wisdom and Wisdom’s Pursuit
3. Boethius: The Relevance of Philosophy and the Need for a Wisdom Atmosphere in Education
4. Moses Maimonides’s Warnings against the Pursuit of Wisdom in Schools
5. Thomas Aquinas and the Gift of Wisdom
6. “Forget about Wisdom! Let’s Innovate!” A Critique of Current Trends in Education Reform
7. The Same Old Story: A History Lesson with St. Augustine about Education Reform
8. The Problem of Introducing Schole into Schools Today
9. Gareth Matthews’s Defense of Philosophizing with Children
10. Matthew Lipman and the P4C Movement
11. What Philosophy Is Not
12. A Brief Statement on the Unity between the Philosophic and Contemplative Traditions
13. Technological Education and the Need for Contemplation
14. The Challenge of Contemplative Education Programming in Schools
15. Examples of Contemplative Education in Schools
16. A Proposal for “Metaxic” Education, or an Education of the In-Between

Explores the nature and role of wisdom in education.


Modern scholarship has struggled to come to terms with the meaning of wisdom and its significance in the field of education. This book examines the importance of pursuing wisdom in schools by turning to ancient and medieval sources for clarification concerning the nature of wisdom. Sean Steel argues that our current emphasis on the development of rigorous critical-analytic thinking skills, on assessment, and on accountability in education has negatively impacted the ability of schools to foster an environment in which both students and teachers might pursue wisdom. Although in recent times efforts have been made to incorporate the pursuit of wisdom into schools through Philosophy for Children (P4C) and contemplative education programming, such initiatives have missed their mark. Steel therefore recommends not more accountability in education for the purpose of ensuring global competitiveness, but rather the institutional promotion of periods of leisure or schole in the school day.

Drawing upon his own experiences as a teacher who has tried to encourage students to search for wisdom, the author discusses some of the challenges and pitfalls of wisdom seeking. He also offers examples of various wisdom-seeking activities that might bear fruit in the classroom.

Sean Steel is a public school teacher and a Sessional Instructor at the University of Calgary.


"This volume will be appreciated by those interested in the intensive application of classic Greek philosophy to current educational practice and to a critique of current contemplative pedagogical movements." — Teaching Theology and Religion