CHAPTER EIGHT
EXTRAMURAL EDUCATION

As democratic education does not begin, so it does not end, with the schooling of youth. “It is a commonplace to say,” John Dewey said, “that education should not cease when one leaves school.”1 The commonplace has more than one point, just as democratic education has more than one purpose.2 Good schools stimulate rather than quench the thirst for learning. But even good schools are unlikely to succeed if they are oases of learning in a society otherwise barren of democratic education.

The wisdom that education should not end with the schooling of youth does not tell us whose responsibility education beyond schooling should be. To what extent should a democratic state support institutions other than schools for the purpose of furthering democratic education? This chapter on educating children outside of school and the next on educating adults after school only partially answer this question. To answer it completely, we would have to consider every public institution that contributes—or could contribute—to democratic education. Because such an exhaustive study would be exhausting, if not impossible, it is tempting to acknowledge that institutions other than schools engage in democratic education, and then to put the question aside to focus only on schooling. The temptation is hard to resist for a second reason: most contemporary political controversies over democratic education concentrate on schooling.

If we succumb to the temptation, however, we perpetuate the popular impression that schooling fully constitutes democratic education, an impression that is false even on the strict understanding of education as the deliberate transmission of values and knowledge. To take an obvious example, public libraries try and often succeed in encouraging children to continue reading and learning while they are out of school. Concern for democratic education is also an important element in political controversies other than those over schools, such as recent debates over whether government should regulate commercial television or subsidize art. Our present political controversies, moreover, should

____________________
1
Dewey, Democracy and Education, p. 51.
2
“The point of this commonplace,” Dewey argued, “is that the purpose of school education is to insure the continuance of education by organizing the powers that insure growth.” Ibid.

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