In Milton Chen’s book “Education Nation. Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools,” he relays a quote from John Dewey: “From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in the school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school in any complete and free way within the school itself; while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply in real life what he is learning at school.”
What’s striking to note is that John Dewey wrote this in 1899 – leading up to the turn of that century. Chen cites this quote to support the first of his six leading edges – the “Thinking Edge.” He calls this edge the most fundamental: modernizing our thinking about education. Back then, Dewey was articulating his ideas on schooling in a series of lectures called “The School and Society.”
A major theme in those “20th Century Education Lectures” was the critical importance of schools to larger societal goals – and especially the success of American democracy (ringing a bell relative to today’s goals?). Dewey was talking about the importance of equal educational opportunity for all children…”what the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.” Dewey believed that education held the unique power to open doors in American society.
I believe education holds the unique power to open doors again to America’s greatness in the new global economy and society. So while a century has passed between John Dewey’s visionary thoughts and those of Chen, Fadel, and others on the leading edge of now 21st Century Education thinking, it’s clear we don’t want to lose our edge – and that helping every child reach their best and highest potential via real-world, accessible, engaging and enlightening education is the key.
Let me hear your thoughts, and please make plans to join us on March 22nd to discuss them with our 21st Century Education Lecture Series speaker, Milton Chen.