Thursday, July 9, 2015

How Can Education Enhance the Quality of Life?

Concerns and debates about standards and standardized testing are like a foghorn that drowns out every other educational conversation. What are we missing? David T. Hansen of Teachers College, Columbia University, explains in the book Ethical Visions of Education that the great American educator and philosopher John Dewey was primarily concerned with the quality of life and how education might enhance it. Specifically, Hansen says Dewey believed that:
  • The quality of life mirrors its aesthetic depth, understood as the extent to which it embodies grace, artfulness, and appreciation, whether in maintaining a home, a classroom, a business, or a government.
  • The quality of life also reflects its emotional maturity and attentiveness, which Dewey contrasts with sentimentality or superficiality.
  • Moreover, the quality of life displays its moral depth, which encompasses considerations of freedom, justice, compassion, humility, and personal as well as social responsibility.
  • Finally, the quality of life mirrors its intellectual scope and discipline, the extent to which intelligence rather than caprice, routine, or blind habit guides its trajectory.
Dr. Hansen concludes that for Dewey, "a fulfilled life features a deepening of quality, however subtle, through each experience. Education constitutes the pathway of such a life."

Read my previous pieces on education: What Are We Educating For? and A Field Guide to Ed Reform.

Here's an earlier piece on Dewey.

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