What Kind of Education Generates Democratic Communities?

I believe one of many links between education and democracy is that educated individuals are needed in order to form a democratic community. Dewey says “an undesirable society is one which internally and externally sets up barriers to free intercourse and communication of experience” and a desirable society is one “which makes provision for participation in its good of all its members on equal terms” (Dewey, 7). That quote sums up a lot of what I think. A society that attempts to oppress its members is bound to meet resistance and failure. A society that encourages participation is a society that has a real chance of growing and flourishing. What’s missing in the first example is democracy.

We pride ourselves on living in a democratic society, and these readings definitely made me stop and think about what that really means. My first thought was the fact that I can vote; however, I feel more and more disenchanted by our electoral process every year. My second thought was freedom of speech, but recent events have shown that free speech is not as free as I once thought. The people running our country have degrees from some of the best schools in the country, and in the world, but I do not see them as the poster children for democracy, but rather the poster children for uncooperative grown-ups who can’t put their differences aside for issues that are bigger than their political stances. So was there something wrong with their education?

What the articles are getting at, in my opinion, is that education should foster freedom. Education that encourages abstract thinking, participation, passion, and even revolutions generates democratic committees because it challenges people to restructure the way they think, act, and feel. I believe a democratic community is one that doesn’t always share the same viewpoints but learn to co-exist through compromise. Hutchins said “the object of the college is to give [the students] training that will it possible for them to continue learning in their adult lives” and I think that’s the concept that most stands out to me. A lifelong education is an education that generates democracy. Learning should never stop because once one decides that they have learned enough or that they no longer wish to learn is when one will cease to grow and once one stops growing, their education is over.

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