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John Dewey's central goal, I think, was the transformation of lives, a means of first transforming immature members of a social group into mature members of the group, and then transforming lives in a way that transcended any particular social group,
In Democracy and Education, he states his first goal this way:
...[W]hat is required is a transformation of the quality of experience till it partakes in the interests, purposes, and ideas current in the social group.... (Chapter 2, para. 2, Gutenberg Project on-line).
He distinguishes between training and education, noting,
Now in many cases—too many cases—the activity of the immature human being is simply played upon to secure habits which are useful. He is trained like an animal rather than educated like a human being (Chapter 2, para. 8, Gutenberg Project on-line).
For Dewey, it is education that creates transformation, not training, and it is within the social medium that education must occur.
Furthermore, beyond transforming a child from an immature member of a social group into a mature member of that group, education should provide the means for transformation that goes beyond one's social group. This is the basis of the equal opportunity a democracy should provide to all children. He says,
it is the office of the school environment to balance the various elements in the social environment, and to see to it that each individual gets an opportunity to escape from the limitations of the social group in which he was born, and to come into living contact with a broader environment (Chapter 2, para. 21, Gutenberg Project on-line).
Dewey's ideas on democracy, education, and transformation are as powerful as when he first wrote about them, nearly one hundred years ago, a reminder to all of us that a successful democracy rests upon education that is transformational, not education that is meant solely for the purpose of career training.
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