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EDUCATION IN THE NEW AGE

EDUCATION IN THE NEW AGE







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18. EDUCATION IN THE NEW AGE

This book on educational philosophy comes at a time of crisis, for the theme that runs through critical
thinking in the field of educational theory today is characterized by deep concern over both the
preservation and the enrichment of human values. Can we maintain our democratic individualism in
the face of the standardizing forces of the Western machine civilization which may also engulf the
Eastern world? Can we offset the totalitarianisms which deify the materialism of an increasingly
industrial culture?
In May of this year (1953) I attended a two-day seminar in Chicago, sponsored by The Center for the
Study of Liberal Education for Adults, a subdivision of the Ford Foundation, created to express the
growing concern of our times for the spiritual basis of our civilization. In the statement of the problem
which our group was to study, Education in a Democratic Society, we were informed as follows:
"Education must meet the needs of the human spirit. It must assist persons to develop a satisfactory
personal philosophy and sense of values, to cultivate tastes for literature, music and the arts; to grow in
ability to analyze problems and arrive at thoughtful conclusions."
This statement demands a re-examination of our educational theory and practice. A survey of current
developments proves that, at long last, the professional educators are clarifying a common philosophy
and are consciously striving to delineate a theory of education adequate to the new world that is
emerging. In such a philosophy three fundamental needs must be met: (l) a psychological theory of
the human person to be "educated"; (2) a social theory of the kind of society one is trying to create or
preserve as a suitable home for the cultural ideals promulgated; and (3) a world view or cosmology, a
theory of man's place in the universe in which man is spectator and actor.
Our problem is to attain the kind of overall synthesis that Marxism and neo-Scholasticism provide for
their followers, but to get this by the freely chosen cooperative methods that Dewey advocated. In the
broadest terms such a world-view will make possible a planetary civilization by integrating whatever
trans-temporal and trans-spatial truths about man and the universe we can extract from all regional
cultures in their local times and places. These universal principles will then provide the norms for
Education in the New Age, as the Tibetan terms it.
The world today suffers from a cultural provincialism based on the dualism of an outward-looking,
objective attitude of the Western world, and an inwardness or subjectivity of Oriental societies. Each
of these civilizations, in its extreme form, is over-balanced in its own direction. In harmonious living,
man must integrate both ideals to achieve wholeness for himself and his world. This, it seems to me, is
one important theme of the present work.
For the future, the remedy for the social schisms and psychological fissions that have handicapped and
obstructed our modern efforts to overcome the divisions of humanity, lies in a restoration of unity of
principles upon which an integration of human values and achievements can be attempted. The
educational implications of this development are clear. As the Tibetan indicates, on subjective levels
we must provide for the resynthesis of human personality and for the overcoming of the double
consciousness that has resulted from the cultural fission which made the "self-negation" of the peaceful
civilization of the Orient the overpowering concept of its culture, and the aggressive "individualism" of
the Occident the ideal of Western man. Accordingly, we need not only the political synthesis of a
World Federation in which the Eastern and Western hemispheres function like the right and left lobes
of man's brain, with the seat of the World Brain serving as the point of decussation of the planetary
nerves, but we need also a planetary way of life, a planetary ethics, and a planetary way of feeling to
supply the powerful drive we shall require for the great tasks that lie ahead of us.
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