Immanuel Kant and the “Aim” of Education

I’m sitting in the library at Hiram College visiting my daughter and checking out the books. I came across this by Immanuel Kant, from his book Education. It made me laugh.

1. Man is the only being who needs education….

2. Animals use their powers… according to a regular plan–that is, in a way not harmful to themselves….

3. Discipline changes animal nature into human nature…. Having no instinct, he has to work out a plan of conduct for himself. Since, however, he is not able to do this all at once, but comes into the world undeveloped, others have to do it for him. 

4. It is discipline, which prevents man from being turned aside by his animal impulses from humanity, his appointed end…. By discipline men are placed in subjection to the laws of mankind, and brought to feel their constraint. This, however, must be accomplished early. Children, for instance, are first sent to school, not so much with the object of their learning something, but rather that they may become used to sitting still and doing exactly as they are told. 

5. … discipline must be brought into play very early; for when this has not been done, it is difficult to alter character later in life. 

 At which point I visited the men’s room, where I came across this computer generated sign:

Flush
When
Done

Ah, yes, the groves of Academe, where men learn not to pee on the trees.

An Obviousness

It is imperative that young children experience repeatedly the joy of solving puzzles and problems of increasing complexity and difficulty. Without the self-confidence this cultivates, thinking is destroyed by apprehension.

Such puzzles will also help them discover and live with the limits to their abilities and authority. Success in life rests on understanding and relating properly to such limits.