Sidney Hook’s theory of education in a democracy

Philosopher Sidney Hook is best remembered for his debates with other philosophers and engaged political figures about Marxism and Communism (link). My interest here is in a different part of his work after World War II, his philosophy of education. Hook was a student of John Dewey, the author of Democracy and Education, but ultimately Hook …

Learning and engagement

John Dewey's Democracy and Education is over a century old. But it still seems strikingly modern, even avant-garde, when compared to many pedagogical practices currently in place in both secondary and post-secondary schools. Here is one line of thought that is especially insightful: that learning is a constructive and active process for the learner, not a question …

Youth service and America’s progress

  Several hundred leaders from around the country convened this week in Washington, D.C. to participate in the 2015 City Year National Leadership Summit. City Year is a national youth service organization with a focused and ambitious mission: to harness the talents of young people in service towards the goal of solving the nation's dropout …

Urban futures

I recently spent a half day visiting Detroit with some very perceptive university colleagues. We visited the university's center on Woodward Avenue, the Riverfront Conservancy, and the Madison Building -- all places where exciting signs of change are underway. Along the way we heard a lot of enthusiasm about the progress Detroit is making: more …

Are there online solutions to rising college costs?

There are many, many voices offering observations and criticisms of universities in face of rising costs and tuitions. But none is more qualified than Bill Bowen to address these issues. He is the preeminent economist and analyst of the institutions of American universities, and he was a long-serving president of Princeton University. So it is …

Decline of French universities?

France has 83 state-supported universities and well over a million undergraduate students in university. After visits over several years to one of these universities and conversations with faculty and students, however, I have come away with some troubling impressions, especially in the humanities. The crux of the apparent problem is a pervasive lack of concern …

What makes universities better?

Universities are large, complex organizations that have multiple goals -- educating undergraduates, training graduate students, facilitating and expanding research activities, serving various communities. Each of these activities depends on complex contributions by very smart faculty and administrators, often in a highly decentralized way, and each can be more or less successful. The individuals involved are …

Liberal education

One of the most fundamental and distinctive aspects of the American approach to undergraduate education is the priority given to making sure that students receive a broad “liberal education.”  What this phrase means has nothing to do with “liberal politics”; instead, it is a theory of education that holds that the undergraduate student needs to …

What is the good of a university education?

Martha Nussbaum is one of the most exceptional voices in philosophy and public policy we have today, and she has contributed to a wide range of topics.  Her work on the ethics of development has proven to be a very important contribution (for example, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach), through which she has significantly deepened …

Scaling up

City Year is a pretty unusual and impressive social-entrepreneurial organization (link). Founded in 1988 as a platform for providing young Americans an opportunity to provide a year of service in an urban environment, the organization has grown dramatically in the intervening 24 years. Here is the organization's mission statement: City Year’s mission is to build …

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