the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what
civilization will be twenty years from now. Hence it is impossible to prepare
the child for any precise set of conditions. To prepare him for the future life
means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will
have the full and ready use of all his capacities; that his eye and ear and
hand may be tools ready to command, that his judgment may be capable of
grasping the conditions under which it has to work, and the executive forces be
trained to act economically and efficiently.
“I believe that much of present education fails
because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of
community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is
to be given, where certain lessons are to be ]earned, or where certain habits
are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the
remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he
is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of
the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative.”
John Dewey, from his Pedagogical Creed of 1897.
Thanks to Diane Coyle, the always interesting Enlightened Economist.