Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thinking about fundamental questions: the madman theory of education

Someone once introduced me to the madman theory of education. It says it is good for a university to have a faculty member who is mad because opposition to his crazy opinions stimulates students into thinking seriously about fundamental questions. Adler was the University of Chicago's madman.
Martin Gardner, before 2013.

Who is the madman at your university? Adler, by the way, is Mortimer Adler, who initiated the Great Books movement at the University of Chicago in Illinois, along with Robert Hutchins and Richard Peter McKeon (see Understanding something about science). Mathematics and science writer Martin Gardner (1914-2010)—in his posthumously published autobiography—has a lot to say about those three controversial and interesting characters.

Martin Gardner with Persi Diaconis and James Rand: Undiluted Hocus-Pocus. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2013; page(s) 70±.

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