What kind of education generates democratic communities?

Throughout these readings it has become clear to me that the purpose of education is often misunderstood and therefore, education has not been fulfilling it’s purpose. “To know what men have thought and to learn to think is therefore what the members of our society may hope to get from the educational system” (175). Therefore, education must focus on things that cannot be learned outside of the educational system. People should not be educated in vocational traits and should not be taught only because “society needs to have something done or that the individual would like to be trained to do something”(178). Instead, the purpose of education is to educate people to give them the tools necessary to improve society, not to give them the tools necessary to survive in the existing society. Hutchins explains “if we could adjust them to their environment, we should not be meeting the needs of society; for one thing society needs is a better environment.” The point of the educational system is to encourage thought and to educate its members on how to think, as this kind of thought will lead to a better and more democratic community. If the only focus is on how to survive or thrive in the existing society, there will be no growth or improvement within society.

It is also important to note that the purpose of education is to aid communication between different communities as well as within communities. In order to generate democratic communities, the educational system must not exclude any person or community. Instead, it must enhance the dialogue and understanding between different communities and peoples. According to Dewey, “isolation makes for rigidity and formal institutionalizing of life, for static and selfish ideals within the group.” (86) The educational system should eliminate the idea of isolation so that the thoughts and ideas are those of improvements for society as a whole not solely for the individual. Dewey explains that “an undesirable society is one, which internally and externally sets up barriers to free intercourse and communication of experience”. In a democratic society, there are numerous and varied points of shared interest, which leads to communication between communities and within communities. With this free communication there will be no isolation and will lead the members of the educational system to work to generate more democratic communities.

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