Emerson on Education

The entire approach to education or re-education presented here can be fruitfully thought of in terms of this journal entry (dated July 15? 1831) from the journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The things taught in schools & colleges are not an education but the means of education…”

(Emerson in his Journals, 1982, selected and edited by Joel Porte, Harvard University Press, page 79)

This insight on education comports well with the approach we are taking here: courses and majors, lectures and tests, grades and discussions are “raw material” for a more composite understanding or perhaps understandings “in motion” as one goes through life. This is true whether you major in English lit. or polymer chemistry.

This Emersonian insight is what is missing from campuses and schoolyards and what we are exploring here. Pedagogy can’t be on the right track without this sense of “parts and wholes” where the raw material of school is a “component” of something that includes the larger context of your life as a person as well as student and paradoxically, the whole “surround” of global commerce and the techno-commercial world which cannot be hidden away in specialized schools such as business schools (say, Harvard Business School). You are “in” all of these dimensions and storms and some tentative integration must be attempted.

Every student is a a person who is born, lives, and dies. This takes place in a world-system of global finance, technology, trade, tensions.

Deep education shows the student that the ongoing “amalgamation” of all of these dimensions is where real and deep education lies. Everything else (ie as done now) is a kind of “perfect myopia.”

This is how we implement Emerson’s point from his Journals, given above.