Chapter Seven: The Democratic Conception in Education

Can you identify with this [chapter/idea], or does it sit uneasy with you?  How might it affect the institution of schools including their spatial arrangement?

Chapter 1 introduces the importance of education in continuing our existence.
More so in Chapter 7, diversity is needed in improving education.

A society that changes and aims to improve will have different standards and methods of education than one that simply aims at following it’s own customs DIVERSITY

“Society” and “community” are not always good in nature. For example, there are societies of criminals.

“There is honor among thieves, and a band of robbers has a common interest as respects its members. … Family life may be marked by exclusiveness, suspicion, and jealousy as to those without, and yet be a model of amity and mutual aid within.” (Ch. 7)

“Any education given by a group tends to socialize its members, but the quality and value of the socialization depends upon the habits and aims of the group.” (Ch. 7)

  • Because of this we need a way to measure the “worth of any given mode of social life” (Ch. 7)
  • avoid extremes when looking for a way to measure worth of social life:
    • An individual cannot make up an ideal society, it must be a collective effort
    • base conception on societies that actually exist in order to make it practical
  • problem comes when we have to take the desirable traits that actually exist in communities and use them to criticize undesirable features and make improvements
  • Social groups are held together by some form of common interest (all consciously shared?) and have some form of cooperation with other groups (to what extent?)
    • These two traits become our standard for measuring social life.
  • “The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated.” (Ch. 7)

Plato: society is stable when each person working in his or her natural strengths; education should help discover what these natural strengths are and help each person know how to use them.

4. The “Individualistic” Ideal of the Eighteenth Century


“…the voice of nature now speaks for the diversity of individual talent and for the need of free development of individuality in all its variety.”

CHURCH / STATE —> servant

  • individual     capacities of knowledge were hindered by laws/rules set by church     and state

NATURE / HUMANITY — > individualism

  • nature became the new source for ideal laws to follow (Newton)
  • earth-flat-church
  • earth-round-natural laws (science, mathematics)
  • EDUCATION     mind is an empty slate to write ultimate truths upon, natural laws
5. Education as National and as Social.

“The peculiarity of truly human life is that man has to create himself by his own voluntary efforts; he has to make himself a truly moral, rational, and free being.”

“The individual in his isolation is nothing; only in and through an absorption of the aims and meaning of organized institutions does he attain true personality.”

HUMANITY    Democratic      STATE

individual                  EDUCATION                     servant

NATIONAL – educate to serve the state

SOCIAL – educate to serve humanity

The idea of using state-funded education as a means of self-preservation was implemented by the Germans in response to invasions by Napoleon.
  • Imagine a school of fish…

“Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity.”