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Best Possible Selves 17

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I studied John Dewey in considerable depth in graduate school and have never been able to let go of a particular sentence he wrote in "Democracy and Education." Despite the fact that this book was published in 1916, I find the sentence to be completely relevant to today's challenges: 

In education meet the three most powerful motives of human activity: the intellectual, the intrapersonal, and the social.

I have long since committed this sentence to memory, and I suspect that it has guided my work continually for the past 35 years. To me, this is another important window into the pathway toward best possible selfhood. Absent a commitment to promote human knowledge through imagination and curiosity, to embrace human connection through empathy and understanding, and to increase human happiness through equity and the common good, it is hard to imagine becoming our best possible selves. The joy--and perhaps the burden--of teaching in an elementary school is that all three of these potential pathways are unmistakably real and simultaneously interconnected. It is a privilege to help children to develop in all three of these important dimensions.