Cheers for Owen

5th December 2008 at 00:00

The supplement on Great Minds: Education's most influential philosophers (TES, November 28) was very interesting but it would have been fitting to have had a reference to Robert Owen (1771-1858) on the 150th anniversary of his death.

More than many other social philosophers, Owen identified how human beings could construct ways of educating, living and working that embodied humane ethical values. From pioneering nursery schools through to envisaging the transition towns movement, Owen demonstrated that society could benefit more from social frameworks produced by community action than no-holds-barred capitalism.

But there is much more of Owen's work to be done, not least by educators. Modern social policy could gain considerably from a strong dose of Owenite belief in valuing people's potential for creativity and having structures to enable imagination to flourish.

Nigel Todd, North East regional director, Workers' Educational Association, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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