The Purposes of Education in American Democracy

By Educational Policies Commission | Go to book overview

I.
THE NATURE AND SOURCES OF EDUCATIONAL
OBJECTIVES1

If philosophy is for anything--if it is not a kind of mumbling in the dark, a form of busy work--it must shed some light upon the path. Life without it must be a different sort of thing from life with it. And the difference which it makes must be in us. Philosophy, then, is reflection upon social ideals, and education is the effort to actualize them in human behavior.

-- JOHN DEWEY.


Educational Objectives Depend on a Scale of Values.

Every statement of educational purposes, including this one, depends upon the judgment of some person or group as to what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what is ugly and what is beautiful, what is valuable and what is worthless, in the conduct of human affairs. Objectives are, essentially, a statement of preferences, choices, values. These preferences are exercised, these choices made, these values arranged in a variety of ways.


Educational Purposes Are Rooted in the Life of a People.

The purposes of schools and other social agencies are not "discovered" as a prospector strikes a gold-mine. They evolve; they reflect and interact with the purposes which

____________________
1
The terms "aim," "purpose," and "objective" are used here interchangeably.

-1-

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