A Cultural History of Western Education: Its Social and Intellectual Foundations

A Cultural History of Western Education: Its Social and Intellectual Foundations

A Cultural History of Western Education: Its Social and Intellectual Foundations

A Cultural History of Western Education: Its Social and Intellectual Foundations

Excerpt

The first edition of this book was published under the title A Cultural History of Education in January, 1947. It has been used, therefore, during the period of vast changes that have taken place since the close of World War II. During this time, it has become even more clear that a careful reexamination of our social, intellectual, and educational predicament is an urgent necessity. Attacks upon democracy and democratic ideals of education have widened and intensified in many parts of the world. Attacks upon modern educational beliefs and practices in the United States have also gained in intensity. These make it imperative that we reassess the strengths and weaknesses of our educational traditions. The author believes with increased conviction that the historical study of culture and education is an indispensable means to that end.

As in every critical period, the American people are searching for answers to their persistent problems. When persons holding different points of view come into conflict about the solution of these problems, each person is likely to appeal to the past for support of his own position. This necessitates a study of history, for any present situation is a result of the past. An adequate analysis of the present with a view to the future requires a study of the past. Indeed, any decision in education or elsewhere in the realm of social affairs depends upon an interpretation of history.

History can do at least two things: It can show what historical ingredients have gone into our present beliefs and practices and what problems face us when inherited traditions confront new conditions and new demands; and it can show how other peoples in other times have solved similar (though not identical) problems.

War accelerates social and educational change, and postwar periods usually see disruptions of old patterns. It is the responsibility of educators and the public alike to see that we do not simply seek the past with longing or, on the other hand, clutch at every new fad. Intelligent study of the history of education is an indispensable ingredient in making sound judgments.

This book is designed principally for those who are preparing to enter the educational profession and for those who have had experience and wish to reevaluate it in the light of the perspective to be gained by view-

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