Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Ends of Education

Adam Kotsko has an interesting post on views of what education is for:

I’m not sure that we really have an answer to that other than something like “personal enrichment” — which someone in a cynical mood could translate into economic terms by saying that we’re insisting that education contribute to leisure time as well as work time. If that’s the narrative, then I think we’re doomed to lose the argument, because then the non-work-oriented education becomes a bona fide luxury that is not going to be “worth the investment” for most people....

As I’ve been teaching Plato and Aristotle, I’m struck by how impoverished our best other answer — “responsible citizenship” — is than the classical ideal. For us, it seems that we’re thinking that people won’t be easily hoodwinked by politicians and will vote more “correctly” (presumably for Democrats). For them, education for citizenship meant being able to step in and govern, and that necessarily meant having a broad enough range of interest that governing wasn’t considered an end in itself....

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