What does it mean to educate young persons?
1. It means to equip them with the technical and procedural skills they need in order to maximize their rational self-interest in the increasingly global marketplace. (Technical skills–Vocation–Market Society ethos)
2. It means to open up spaces and provide them with opportunities for realizing their capacity as making-beings. (Craftsman tools–Neomedieval–Commune ethos)
3. It means inviting them to examine the nature of a good life and to go in search of wisdom. (Virtues–Ancient–Wisdom ethos)
What are the problems with our current understandings?
1. The testing culture is concerned solely with the Technical skills–Vocation–Market Society ethos.
2. The Craftsman culture seems necessary but not sufficient. Not sufficient, first of all, because some students will still need to master a set of technical, portable skills. Not sufficient, second of all, because all of us will need to honor the spiritual-philosophical dimension of human experience (Virtues–Ancient–Wisdom ethos).
3. The Wisdom ethos also seems necessary but not sufficient. People like me have had to learn how to get their hands dirty. I’ve had to confront my own fear of manual labor in order to learn how to maintain and repair my bike. In starting my own philosophical counseling business, I’ve had to become adept at using a set of technical tools that are no doubt the product of my public school education.
What should schools look like in the 21st C.?
They will need to be committed to “thicker skills” acquisition (technical plus craftsman) and to ascesis, the question for self-understanding.