Robert Maynard Hutchins

Aaron Jimenez

Pr. Weaver

English 1102


Robert Maynard Hutchins

            My scholar is Robert Maynard Hutchins, he was born on January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, Ney York, and died on May 14, 1977 in Santa Barbara, California. He founded the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the Great Books Foundation. He was an American educator and a university president, who thought that the college curriculum needed to be balanced. He, also, came up way many theories to try and fix the issue with education, the same education issue that we have today. Robert Maynard Hutchins believes that students in universities will learn a lot more and be more efficient in their education if they actually learned from someone related to their interest in education. We should listen to Robert Maynard Hutchins because he wanted to perfect the higher education system, and many of the things that he said is still relatable today.

            Some of Robert Maynard Hutchins theories are the Theory of Society, Theory of Knowledge, and the Theory of Learning. First, The Theory of Society is basically that the society affects the universities, which, ultimately, affects the students attending the universities. Universities in today’s age should take this in and start giving students knowledge about society rather than just lecturing about something that does not help the student in any way. In The Theory of Knowledge, Robert Maynard Hutchins explains that the teacher has to currently have knowledge of anything he or she is teaching to actually be affective. This theory seems obvious, but it supports his argument in which that the only way for a student to learn about his or her particular field is to learn from somebody who has knowledge in that field. This leads us to the Theory of Learning, which Robert Maynard Hutchins says that knowledge “is acquired partly from intellectual operations and partly from experience. But the chief requirement for it is correctness in thinking. Since education cannot duplicate the experiences which the student will have when he graduates, it should devote itself to developing correctness in thinking as a means to practical wisdom, that is, to intelligent action” (The Higher Learning in America 112).  If you would like to learn more about his other different theories you can check them out on here.        

The higher education system is becoming a waste of time for students who want to gain knowledge on their specific field. In “Education for Freedom” by Robert Maynard Hutchins, he shows that “Education provides the great peaceful mean of improving society; and yet as we have seen, the character of education is determined by the character of society” (Education for Freedom 58). He believes that the higher education system has the power to create peace in society but it can also be influenced by the society. What he says is important because the higher education system have seem to forgotten this. Robert Maynard Hutchins believes that school shouldn’t teach us what we should and shouldn’t do. Instead, it should teach us how to make our own determinations. He believes that college cannot make us good, but rather teach us ways for us to find out what is good.

Robert Maynard Hutchins got a chance to change things when he became the president of the University of Chicago. He said that “We have confused science with information, ideas with facts, and knowledge with miscellaneous data”. His idea of a higher education system was too start a collegiate education in the third year of high school and end after the second year of college, which created the “two year degree”. His curriculum had 14 year-long courses with the basics on physical, biological, and social science and the humanities. He believed that students can take a test whenever they want to prove their mastery on a subject. His idea of teaching was through discussion not lecturing. Most universities thought that his Chicago plan was outrageous. No universities wanted to accept his Chicago plan. Even the state legislature investigated the University of Chicago because they thought that what Hutchins was doing was a “communistic influences” in the school.

Robert Maynard Hutchins wants to find the best possible way for a student to move in his or her education. He was a brilliant man who raised a lot of arguments about education, society, and learning. He should be heard because his ideas lay a foundation on the right path to a better society and the higher education. To forget him and his ideas means making the higher education system worse.


  1. Hutchins, Robert Maynard. Education for Freedom. Louisiana State University Press, 1947.
  2. Hutchins, Robert Maynard. The Higher Learning in America. Routledge, 1936.
  3. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Robert Maynard Hutchins.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 May 2018,
  4. Hutchins, Robert Maynard. The Conflict in Education: in a Democratic Society. Greenwood Press, 1976.