A History of Educational Thought

A History of Educational Thought

A History of Educational Thought

A History of Educational Thought

Excerpt

Today, the theory and history of education are of universal interest. We have come to realize that educational practice must be illuminated by critical examination. We have learned that without a consideration of goals and purposes education is bound to suffer from a grave limitation of vision.

In this book I have explored the religious as well as the philosophical foundations of educational thought. For many centuries, religious and educational instruction were one; in modern times, men like Pestalozzi and Froebel have been encouraged in their educational reforms by their religious idealism. Basically, education and religion appeal to the same drives. Both are concerned with man as he ought to be; both are hindered by materialism; both demand a reconstruction of the heart as well as of the mind. Both depend upon the inspiration of exceptional leaders. Both are concerned not merely with the present, but with the distant future. Both demand a genuine ethical viewpoint which goes beyond expediency. For we cannot understand the history of educational thought without understanding its religious foundations.

My approach to the philosophical foundations of educational thought has been cosmopolitan. To be cosmopolitan in education means to cultivate an open mind, welcoming new truths and new insights wherever found. I have tried to reveal the impact on education of philosophical ideas not only of Christians, but also of Mohammedans, and of the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and Indians. Only as we learn do we progress; only as we overcome prejudice do we become enlightened. The Orient can teach us the virtue of contemplation which we need desperately in our activistic culture.

The last three centuries have brought spectacular scientific advancement. Science as method of controlling nature dates back to the Renaissance, but it promises no magic vistas, and, in unenlightened hands, it may become a tool of total destruction. On the other hand, the scientific method, applied to our institutional system, may create a real change in the habits of mankind.

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