Charles Dey once asked: “What Kind of World Do We Want for the 21st Century?”

By Ari Pinkus posted 01-09-2014 03:40 PM


When I discovered the article “What Kind of World Do We Want?” was the fifth most popular item on the NAIS homepage yesterday, I was curious. And after reading the Independent School magazine article, I understand why it's popular. Although it was written in 1985, it has enduring appeal, expounding on the far-reaching ideals of morality and purpose within and beyond our schools.

The eloquence of author Charles Dey, a former principal and head of Choate Rosemary School (Connecticut), draws us in at the outset:

“Curriculum begins with purpose, and purpose, in part, grows out of the fundamental premises on which a society is constructed. Necessarily, curricula are fashioned for utilitarian purposes such as imparting writing and mathematical skills, and now computer skills, and those other disciplines, such as language, history, religion, and the arts, that help us to know who we are. But how we teach them and what we include within each area should reflect larger visions of what kind of world we want.”

Later on, he writes: “If we have done our work, none of our students will ever again be free from knowing the unfinished business of their society, its unfulfilled promises. And beyond knowing, they will feel responsible for addressing those issues in their own lives. After all, what is the longer-range purpose of education? To amass wealth? To attain fame or power? To acquire title and prestige? Or is it to produce thinking persons able to express themselves clearly and effectively, persons having a lifelong appetite for learning and a determination to lead useful lives, so that whatever they do, whomever they touch, will be better for their having lived?”

Click here to read the full piece from the archives of Independent School magazine.  It resonates today as much as it did then.
The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of NAIS.