Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maslow and the Good Society

Educators love Abraham Maslow for his hierarchy of needs. Maslow wrote a book, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences, that has this line in it:

"Education must be seen as at least partially an effort to produce the good human being, to foster the good life and the good society."

I've said earlier that morality is the root of education, according to Chu Hsi. Maslow in the 20th century echoed what Chu said in the 12th century.

We can learn much about education from the ancient Chinese.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Education and the Arts

Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, delivered this commencement speech at Stanford on June 17, 2007: "Trade easy pleasures for more complex and challenging ones."

Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

"What is the defining difference between passive and active citizens? Curiously, it isn't income, geography, or even education. It depends on whether or not they read for pleasure and participate in the arts. These cultural activities seem to awaken a heightened sense of individual awareness and social responsibility."

"Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions."


"Art awakens, enlarges, refines, and restores our humanity."

I highly recommend you read his entire speech. It is relatively short and and very thoughtful. You cannot be interested in education without being interested in culture: both nurture our humanity.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Educational Philosophy

At a political meeting when I ran for school board last year I was asked to describe my educational philosophy in 2 minutes or less. I have a very detailed description of my educational philosophy at my website dedicated to education.

Two minutes? That's just a bullet. I had not thought to boil down my educational philosophy to a bullet or two. What I said extemporaneously at the meeting was, "morality is the root of education." That is a quote from Chu Hsi.

Lately I've thought of elaborating the plant analogy. Confucius said we should study for our own sake, which means to fulfill our potential. I've also thought about the qualities in society that are valued by Confucianism. Here is a fuller bulletized version of my educational philosophy:

Morality is the root of education.
Developing citizens to their full potential is the body of education.
And the fruits of education are culture, justice, peace, and prosperity.

Education is less about skills and knowledge than about people and society. Skills and knowledge are indispensible. They might be milestones on the journey of life, but a milestone is not a destination.

With this as an educational philosophy we can see our education is never finished.