Alcove Activities: First Level: Paraphrasing a Text, The Idea of Education
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First Level: Paraphrasing a Text, The Idea of Education
In this set of activities you will be both paraphrasing and explicating the thesis of several classic texts. You will paraphrase each excerpt section by section, followed by explicating the texts by stating your understanding of each one in your own words, then elaborating, exemplifying and illustrating them. In other words, for each of the texts in this section, you will begin by articulating them in your own words, sentence by sentence, or in parts, as we have presented them. Then you will explicate each one at level two.

After writing out your paraphrases in your own words, and explicating them, click on the thinker icon to see our specimen answers. You will first read the text as a whole at the beginning of each section, along with its background information, and then you will find the same text divided into parts for your practice.

The Idea of Education

Background Information:
In 1851, John Henry Newman wrote his famous set of lectures, Discourses on the Scope and Nature of University Education, which in 1952 became The Idea of a University. This book focuses on Newman’s vision of education.

All I say is, call things by their right names, and do not confuse together ideas which are essentially different. A thorough knowledge of one science and a superficial acquaintance with many are not the same thing; a smattering of a hundred things or a memory for detail, is not a...comprehensive view... Do not say, the people must be educated, when, after all, you only mean amused, refreshed, soothed, put into good spirits and good humor, or kept from vicious excesses... Education is a high word; it is the preparation for knowledge, and it is the imparting of knowledge in proportion to that preparation... It is education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant... It shows him how to accommodate himself to others, how to throw himself into their state of mind, how to bring before them his own, how to influence them, how to come to an understanding with them, how to bear with them... He knows when to speak and when to be silent; he is able to converse, he is able to listen; he can ask a question pertinently, and gain a lesson seasonably, when nothing to impart himself.

Now that you have read the full text above, you will find the same text in sections below. Write out your paraphrase of each section in the box provided. Then see our specimen answers by clicking on the thinker icon.


All I say is, call things by their right names, and do not confuse together ideas which are essentially different.



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: My main point is that people should choose their words carefully so that they clearly distinguish ideas that are different from each other.




A thorough knowledge of one science and a superficial acquaintance with many, are not the same thing...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Having deep understanding and command of one subject or discipline, and knowing a little bit about a lot of subjects, are very different things and should not be confused with one another.




...a smattering of a hundred things or a memory for detail, is not a...comprehensive view...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Knowing a little about many things, or being adept at remembering specifics, is not the same as being able to think abstractly about important topics. Nor is it the same as having a broad perspective.




Do not say, the people must be educated, when, after all, you only mean amused, refreshed, soothed, put into good spirits and good humor, or kept from vicious excesses...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Do not confuse education with enjoyment or entertainment, or with being rejuvenated or energized. Do not confuse education with being made comfortable or content, and don’t say that a person is educated merely because he or she avoids immoderate or unrestrained behavior.




Education is a high word; it is the preparation for knowledge, and it is the imparting of knowledge in proportion to that preparation...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: The concept of education has deep and significant meaning. It is not to be taken lightly, nor applied lightly. Education prepares the mind to understand and to learn new ideas. It enables one to take possession of knowledge and apply it.




It is education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them.



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Through education one comes to know, truly and deeply, what one believes and why one believes it. It brings integrity to the process of belief; it enables one to express what one believes with grace, style, and power.




It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Education fosters the ability to see what is actually true in a situation, and to see through what is irrelevant in order to focus on what is important and relevant. When people are educated, they cannot be manipulated by people who use language in deceptive ways—by those who say one thing and mean another.




It shows him how to accommodate himself to others, how to throw himself into their state of mind, how to bring before them his own, how to influence them, how to come to an understanding with them, how to bear with them...



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Education enables people to think within multiple viewpoints, to empathize with the views of others in order to understand them. It enables people to rationally present their own arguments, using good reasons to persuade others of their views. It enables people to take into account reasonable viewpoints and arguments, and change their own views when faced with more reasonable ones. It enables them to listen carefully and comprehend the views of others, and to be patient with those who are not patient themselves.




He knows when to speak and when to be silent; he is able to converse, he is able to listen; he can ask a question pertinently, and gain a lesson seasonably, when nothing to impart himself.



Paraphrase:
Possible Answer: Educated persons realize when it makes sense to state their views aloud, and when it makes sense to be quiet and listen to others. They know how to discuss ideas effectively with others. They are good listeners. They are good at asking questions that facilitate discussion. They are skilled learners, even when they have nothing to add to a conversation or situation themselves.