What kind of education generates democratic community?

The kind of education that generates democratic community (in terms of academics) is the kind that fosters individual and well-rounded thinking and learning. However, the types of institutions that do this tend to not generate democratic community in terms of their barriers to accessibility. In The College and the Needs of Society, Robert M. Hutchins writes that “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). He writes that education is about well-rounded intellectuality, something for which liberal arts colleges strive. Through this belief, liberal arts can be considered the type of education that generates democracy. I do, however, disagree with Hutchins that “if it can be religious, too, so much the better” (175). I find that if a college teaches about religions than it is helping to promote a democratic community, but if it is endorsing a specific religion, than it is not, and goes against the whole idea of a liberal arts college (to create a well rounded individual). In Democracy and Education, Dewey states that “an undesirable society, in other words, is one which internally and externally sets up barriers to free intercourse and communication of experience.” In relation to this statement, every liberal arts college (or any type of higher education) is currently fostering an undesirable society by setting up barriers to accessibility (such as cost, or admitting the same type of students from the same type of well-off background). For liberal arts to more strongly generate democratic community, these barriers must be broken down.


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