There are only two ways by which man can progress (and has progressed) beyond his inhuman beginnings. One is how he relates to others, and the other is how he relates to himself.
In many respects the two are tied together. If he oppresses, imprisons his fellows he obviously prevents them from growing and developing their own potential.
If he only is concerned with his own development the life outside himself will be a jungle, as it was for most of man’s history. Thinking not only of himself, but of others is a way of changing that.
Francis Fukuyama did make a good point when he wrote The End of History in the Summer of 1989. And he was right, although many have ridiculed his idea as they point to the terrible history taking place every day before our eyes. But he was right because western liberal democracy is the best why to order our lives with others. What other possible candidates are there? Sharia? the Welfare State? If there are any they’re not in evidence today.
But the world, is it ready for liberal democracy? Alas, no.
Also, is our world ready for allowing individuals to freely follow, not someone else, but whatever they find within themselves? Alas, no.
Science is the result of both movements left unfettered. If science is only a few hundred years old it’s most of all because of the restrictions that were placed on individuals and groups of individuals, or countries, by religions and autocracies.
Liberal democracy is also the result of both. A bill in Congress authorizes $20 million in each of the next three years to promote democracy, independent media, uncensored Internet access and anti-corruption efforts, where? well in Russia.
The result of this and other similar Western moves is that Putin is convinced he has to defend himself from us! And he’s right. He has no chance if both individuals and liberal democracies are allowed and helped to flourish close to his still autocratic Russia.
Schools ought to start with just two premises or principles: that kids have to learn about themselves, about who they are, who they were meant to be, and they have to learn about liberal democracy, which does seem to be the very best way of ordering our lives together.
If our schools have generally failed it’s because schools are dominated by curricula, subject matter, and are always “toeing” the subject matter line, rather than allowing and helping kids to first learn about themselves and then about how to live with others, subject matter, even mathematics, even music, being means and not ends.