Education for Tragedy

Education for Tragedy: Essays in Disenchanted Hope for Modern Man

KENNETH D. BENNE
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jh9g
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  • Book Info
    Education for Tragedy
    Book Description:

    A distinguished educator and social critic here considers the demands put upon democratic and progressive policies in education, which remains, he believes, man's strongest hope for creating new bases for human values in an age of change and cultural crisis. The importance of human worth and individual advancement, within communities and varied age demographics, is analyzed.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6208-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xii)

    For more than a half century, I have lived as a participant in American life and as an observer and critic of that life. During much of that time, I have viewed the conduct and institutions of American people from the vantage point of a worker in education. Since my early student days, I have taught in elementary and secondary schools, in colleges and universities, and in a large variety of undertakings in adult education, formal and informal, traditional and experimental. As I have sought to invest myself deeply and reconstructively in American education, I have become inescapably involved in...

  4. Education for Tragedy
    (pp. 1-36)

    Contemporary experience is filled with the stuff of tragedy. We decide and act, and as a consequence fellow men are torn from the human relationships and affiliations which gave their life meaning, made them men. We decide and act, and as a consequence many men are shattered in body and in person. And we are not exempt from comparable suffering as a consequence of the decisions and actions of ourselves or of other men. Nor is it only that agony comes to meritorious and nonmeritorious agents alike. Even more fundamentally we realize that there is now no confident common standard...

  5. Education in the Quest for Identity
    (pp. 37-67)

    American education is, in a far from superficial sense, product and heir of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Its central faith is drawn from that tradition—a faith that through the liberation of individual minds the quality of both personal and collective life will be enhanced and improved. Its dominant mood was, in its beginnings and is today, a liberal-optimistic one.¹

    Among the assumptions that have sustained this mood and made it plausible is the notion that the will to be free and autonomous is somehow inherent in the nature of man. Boys and girls, men and women, do not have to...

  6. Education in the Quest for Community
    (pp. 68-88)

    Men have built a vast society in the modem world. The fortunes, good or ill, of each man are now inextricably bound up with the fortunes of all men everywhere. We are bound together by bonds of interdependence, visible and invisible, into mechanical associations, whether these be friendly or hostile, degrading or ennobling, liberating or enslaving.¹

    Historically we link the building of this complex society with the industrial revolution and all it implies concerning changed and changing conditions of human livelihood; this revolution has been triumphantly under way in virtually all parts of the earth, from its early and continuing...

  7. The Uses of Fraternity
    (pp. 89-106)

    Many people find it a contradiction to emphasize group experience as a condition of eliciting and stabilizing individuality in members of our mass society. Such an emphasis often evokes defensive responses against both “groups” and “conformity.” The anxiety seems deepest in those intellectuals most committed to the battle for individualism and freedom, who see a radical disjunction, if not a downright contradiction between “group” and “individual,” between “fraternity” and “freedom.” As the cohorts of a specious “togetherness” grow stronger and more vocal, anxiety is transmuted into despair. Yet this despair-engendering disjunction is not a valid one, although it disturbs many...

  8. Man and Moloch
    (pp. 107-136)

    The lives of most contemporary men are lived on the sufferance of some bureaucratic organization or another. This is true, in the first instance, of a man’s vocational life. His talents are employed, or not employed, by some bureaucracy in advancing its goals or enhancing its image. If employed, he is provided by the organization in tum with means to draw on the products of other bureaucratic organizations in sustaining him in the rest of his life. Bureaucratic organizations are thus primary factors in contemporary man’s employment as worker. Increasingly, he must reckon also with bureaucracies in his nonworker roles...

  9. The Re-education of Persons in Their Human Relationships
    (pp. 137-150)

    Let me begin this essay by stating two basic assumptions which underlie its development. The essay assumes with Aristotle that man is by nature a “community animal.”¹ Men achieve the good life, if at all, through membership in various associations. To learn to be human is to learn responsible membership in some inclusive round of human associations. It is in human relationships that men, if they are apt for the learning, learn individuality, creativity, and dissent as well as conformity, discipline in traditional orientations, and consent. Man in either his educative or his miseducative development is a community animal, and...

  10. From Polarization to Paradox
    (pp. 151-186)

    In several earlier essays in this volume, while probing various aspects of the plight of modem man, I have tried to show the need for innovations in the education and reeducation of contemporary persons. The purpose of this essay is to discuss in detail one such innovation which I, along with colleagues from disciplines other than my own, helped to create twenty years ago. This innovation has undergone many changes and refinements since its beginnings, as thousands of men and women of action and men and women of knowledge have joined with its originators to test it, to improve it,...

  11. The Arts of Democratic Citizenship
    (pp. 187-196)

    As in the case of all other arts, the art of democracy draws its meaning from two sources. One source is a vision of perfection. In the fine arts, this vision is one of beauty and significant order. In democratic living, the vision is one of right human relationships, the vision of a social order built by free and equal men and women for the nurture and growth of free and equal men and women.

    The other source of meaning in an art is derived from the materials to be shaped and built by the artist. The material never fits...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 197-202)
  13. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 203-203)