A college or university atmosphere provides the perfect place for young citizens to debate and exchange ideas. The connection between higher learning and a democratic society extends beyond the classroom. In fact, I would argue that the most important aspect of a student’s preparedness to be a participant in the democratic system is having their ideas constantly challenged. This is why learning in a politically homogeneous atmosphere is detrimental to a student’s development. In Dewey’s reading, he presented a “superficial” explanation of the relationship between education and government: that the population should be educated in order to elect their representatives and obey their representatives. His “deeper” explanation of the relationship rewrites the common definition of a democracy entirely. Simply, democracy is “more than a form of government”. In other words, democracy is more than the republican viewpoint of electing leaders and letting those leaders rule the nation, country, state, city etc. Democracy is a way of life that requires the constant participation and communication from the people.
I have always believed in several of the following points pertaining to democracy and education: 1) Education (formal or informal) is the single greatest determining factor in society’s economic and political well-being. 2) Democracy should be more than choosing between a few candidates every couple of years. 3) Since democracy should require the constant participation of the population, the population should be educated. As said above, it is important that this education is not done in a homogeneous atmosphere. The only way to truly prepare students to be participants in a real democracy is for each institution to be a sample of the society that these students will soon live in. In short, the most important factor in creating this institution is to make it ideologically diverse. To accomplish this, the administration needs to play an active role in choosing its students and faculty.