From The Atlantic Monthly:
Can we not devise a system of liberal education which shall find its foundations in the best things of the here and now? Literature and art are all about us; science and faith offer their daily contributions; history is in the making to-day; industry pours forth its wares; and children, no less than adults, are sharing in the dynamic activities of contemporary social life. Not in the things of the past, but in those of the present, should liberal education find its beginnings as well as its results. Fortified by the resources, interest, and insight thus obtained, it can be made to embrace areas of culture and power which are relatively remote and abstract.
David Snedden, “What Of Liberal Education?,” January 1912.
I also like Snedden’s joint emphasis on production and consumption, writing and reading, new notions of culture and media, usw. (It’s public domain, so I’m going to go ahead and quote a lot of it and put in bold the ideas I think are most important):
To produce little and consume much is a characteristic of parasitical forms of life; but to produce well and consume badly gives us, in the human sphere, narrow, illiberal, self-limiting, and ultimately self-destroying individualities. The modern world insists on specialization in productive activities as the key-note to efficiency; but it must learn to insist equally on the democratization and universalizing of fine consuming capacities as a condition of maintaining the larger forms of social life. One of the vices almost always inherent in certain forms of social aristocracy, is the artificial specialization of some consuming functions.
Are there not revealed in the distinctions here presented the clues to the methods and functions of liberal education? Man stands in a two-fold relationship to the world; he is a producer of utilities, and also a consumer. As producer, he writes books, or constructs machines, or produces wheat, or builds houses, or heals the sick, or conveys travelers; and for any of these activities he can be trained. As consumer, however, he is inspired by books, served by machines, nourished by bread, sheltered by houses, healed by physicians, and carried by railways; and for the wise and profitable exercise of these activities he can also be trained. He specializes in production; but manufacture, and printing, and steam enable him to universalize in consumption. What we call the social inheritance