August 08, 2012
Education and “The Public Promotion of Moral Genius”: An Interview with Peter Hershock
Matt Bieber in The Wheat and Chaff:
Peter Hershock is the author of Buddhism in the Public Sphere, one of the most interesting books about public policy that I have ever read. The book presents a set of Buddhist perspectives on a series of political and policy challenges. Each chapter – which cover issues as varied as the environment and terrorism – is worth a read. The final chapter, which serves as the jumping-off point for this interview, is a tour de force of wide-ranging theory and fresh insight about the purposes and practices of contemporary education.
Hershock is an education specialist at the East-West Center in Honolulu. In addition to Buddhism in the Public Sphere, he has written or co-edited many other books, including Educations and Their Purposes: A Conversation Among Cultures.
MATT BIEBER: In your view, much of contemporary education concerns itself with three goals: transmitting information and knowledge, imparting “circumstantially useful skills”, and forming young people through “principle-structured character development and socialization.” Many educational theorists would argue that this forms at least a partial list, if not a complete list, of appropriate educational goals. For you, however, this educational paradigm is deeply inappropriate and, in fact, in crisis. Why?
PETER HERSHOCK: Well, that’s a big question, and we’re going to need a lot of history to be able to respond. Here are some quick thoughts, and then we can do more background if need to.
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