Societies can vary far and wide, but they all do have one thing in common – existence through the process of transmission (Dewey, Ch. 1, ¶7). In order for society to thrive, the younger generations depend on the old to guide their way, instilling in them the habits, knowledge, and customs that are imperative to keep the society alive. It is through the continuous renewal of the social group that allows a society to progress. This renewal does not generally refer to life and death; rather, “Education, in its broadest sense, is the means of this social continuity of life (Dewey, Dem & Edu, Ch. 1, ¶5).” A good society benefits from the transmission of knowledge which is acquired through education, both formal and informal, and thus allows the individuals to share beliefs while simultaneously considering opposing views. Taken as a whole, this is the foundation upon which Dewey believes society is most sustainable. Although I agree with Dewey on his views of society, I believe his argument to be somewhat flawed. The transmission of knowledge from old to young is a good starting point; however, I believe formal education fares far more value then Dewey credits it.
Growing up in a society where individualism trumps socialism, it may seem unfathomable that this society will ever see eye to eye. However, according to Dewey, “Only by being true to the full growth of all the individuals who make it up, can society by any chance be true to itself (Dewey, School & Society, Ch. 1, ¶1). In other words, it appears that individualism does have its place in society. If everyone shared the same beliefs, then this would inherently stunt the growth of society. Challenging different viewpoints allows society to experience growth in ways which are otherwise not possible. However, the source for the knowledge of these individuals must come from somewhere. Taking education into account, the curriculum is typically the same for all individuals who attend. It appears, then, that education stymies the ability for an individual to grow. Education does have its time and place: early only, learning the basic skills such as reading and writing are most often adopted in early education. In this sense, having the same curriculum for all individuals benefits society. As the individuals progress though, the need for other outlets and application of knowledge are needed.
Communication is another chief component that Dewey believes helps mold a society. “Not only is social life identical with communication, but all communication (and hence all genuine social life) is educative (Dewey, Dem & Edu, Ch. 1, ¶13).” Communication (i.e. the transmission of knowledge and wisdom) opens up an individual’s mind to consider and contemplate different points of view:
To formulate requires getting outside of it, seeing it as another would see it, considering what points of contact it has with the life of another so that it may be got into such form that he can appreciate its meaning (Dewey,...