Education and the Unity of the Person

Journal of Value Inquiry 30 (June):43-50 (1996)
Abstract
The deeper meaning of education, says Dewey in his Human Nature and Conduct (1922), which distinguishes the justly honored profession from that of mere trainer, is that a future new society of changed purposes and desires may be created by a deliberately humane treatment of the impulses of youth (p. 69). For Dewey, a truly humane education consists in an intelligent direction of native activities in the light of the possibilities and necessities of the social situation (p. 70). Student impulse and interest are not to be suppressed nor continually vented in unrestrained expression. In view of the plasticity of youth, there is little danger that allowing the role of student interest will lead away from important objectives of the curriculum. Education which respects the integrity of the student is a prerequisite of the kind of educated public suited for fuller participation in the democratic processes which properly direct and reconstruct our social life. The citizen appropriate for a democratic society is neither the dull conformist nor the superficial, gushing, non-conformist or sensualist. Individual impulse and initiative is neither to be damned up nor frivolously expressed. Meaningful participation and fuller social reconstruction require that we respect the social conditions for the possibility of knowledge and its growth, and this is more easily achieved, and more broadly appealing, when we speak of plans for the school environment. Respect for the cognitive and developmental needs of our own children and young people is fundamental to the self-respect of any viable society. Education could be philosophical praxis for a better world.
Keywords Education  John Dewey  Felix Adler
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