Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William E. Doll, Jr


This dissertation is an exploration of the connections between the process philosophy and the educational thinking of Alfred North Whitehead. It develops the theory that Whitehead's philosophy of process is evident in "embryonic" form in his earlier educational writings, as well as The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929), and that the complexities of process thinking are as intertwined and interconnected with the principles of process educational thought as the actual entity is intertwined and interconnected with the complex relations involved in its concrescence. The ultimate aim is to provide a clear picture of Whitehead's vision of education and the possibilities it offers the classroom teacher. The study, a theoretical one, is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the framework for the dissertation and a personal reflection on initial encounters with process philosophy. Chapter 2 presents Whitehead's idea of "connectedness" and my natural progression toward a process mode of thought through the course of my career. William F. Pinar's theory of currere frames an autobiographical exploration of my twenty-five years in the classroom and my years of doctoral study. Chapter 3 explicates the philosophy of process, beginning with the actual entity and including all the basic elements. Chapter 4 examines Whitehead's educational writings, with a careful emphasis on the earlier essays and addresses, as well as a detailed look at his rhythm of education. Also explored is the fundamental notion of the student as a living organism and the necessity of application. This chapter concludes with a look at the critical opinions of philosophers and educators who have applied Whitehead's process philosophy to educational theory, e.g., Brumbaugh, Doll, Hendley, Holmes, and Lawrence. Chapter 5, which is the crux of the study, applies a process philosophy of education to the practical world of the classroom, considering the combination of the theoretical and the practical realms of thought. The quest centers around the myriad of possibilities process thinking offers the teacher today. It concludes with a look at the phases of generalization and romance as windows to the very Platonic notion of transformation in the lives of both students and teacher.