March 9, 2013

Education and the Reformation

At SXSWedu last week I encountered a presenter who drew a connection between our compulsory education system and the protestant reformation, the invention of moveable type, and the Gutenberg press. This is something that I've been thinking about frequently, especially in the context of education reform.

Martin Luther proposed the idea of universal education, recognizing the need to reform the public through education, which would lead to the transformation of the church. It wasn't enough to simply call for reform of the Roman church. In Luther's view reforming the church necessarily depended on educating the members of the body. He created the reforming church by fostering an education reform movement.

This is how I think of education reform today. It's not simply some sort of bold initiative to be applied to the institutions of education, but a way of understanding how education is a reforming influence in in each of our lives. And because I think of education as "reforming," I understand that institutional reform is a continuous process -- there's no Big Bang moment. It's like water over stones in a stream. The process is never ending.

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