His educational writings

Besides his classic Idea of a university, the theme of education weaves in and out of many of Newman’s writings, including his sermons, which means that it is hard to identify them – especially as he had such a broad view of education.

He regarded the Idea of a university as comprising two of his three main volumes on education; the third was Rise and progress of universities.

His first novel Loss and gain: the story of a convert (1848) is based on his undergraduate days at Oxford and was the first of the genre of university novels to directly link the protagonist’s personal growth to a university experience.

‘The Tamworth reading room’, reprinted in Discussions and arguments (1872), comprises six letters to The Times written in 1841 on the occasion of the opening of some reading rooms by Sir Robert Peel. Newman exposed the fallacy of Peel’s claim in his opening address that reading alone was enough to make men good and virtuous citizens, and his assumption that religion could be replaced by secular knowledge.

Memoranda and other documents relating to his educational ventures can be found in the Birmingham Oratory archive. Much of the material relating to the foundation of the Catholic University in Dublin is published as My campaign in Ireland (1896).

Of the 604 sermons he wrote and preached as an Anglican, two of the earliest ones are remarkable for showing how deeply Newman had thought about the nature and purpose of education, and that he had already discerned in outline many of his key educational principles. ‘On some popular mistakes as to the object of education’ (first preached on 8 January 1826) and ‘On general education as connected with the Church and religion’ (first preached on 19 August 1827) are reprinted in John Henry Newman. Continuum library of education thought, vol. xviii (2007).

Educational themes occur in many of Newman’s letters, which are published in 32 volumes as Letters and diaries of John Henry Newman.

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