Originally published in spring 2012
I am always seeking "gold nugget" quotes.
Here's one I found in John Dewey’s My Pedagogic Creed (1897)(http://dewey.pragmatism.org/creed.htm).
“To prepare [a student] for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities. . .”
It reminded me of a post-Civil War quote I often read to begin courses or workshops, as it's the most stirring definition I’ve ever heard of what education is supposed to be about.
In 1865, black delegates in Charleston, South Carolina petitioned the legislature for basic rights in the post-Emancipation South. In defiance of increasingly common "Black Codes" restricting black people's pursuit of opportunity, the delegates presented a list of human rights demands. For example, they demanded the right to assemble to discuss politics, to amass wealth, to farm and conduct trade, and so forth. And as Vincent Harding writes in his book There is a River (1981, p. 326), “To this, they added a summary human right not normally found in the public documents of the nation:
'the right to develop our whole being, by all the appliances that belong to a civilized society.' "
I find these quotes unusually inspiring descriptions of the purpose of education.