TITLE: Education as a Way to Create Better Adults AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 17, 2016 2:55 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In this Dr. Dobbs interview, Alan Kay reveals how he became interested in education as a life's work: as a teenager, he read the issue of Life magazine that introduced Margaret Bourke-White's photos from Buchenwald. Kay says:
That probably was the turning point that changed my entire attitude toward life. It was responsible for getting me interested in education. My interest in education is unglamorous. I don't have an enormous desire to help children, but I have an enormous desire to create better adults.
This desire has caused Kay to explore how children think and learn more deeply than most people do. Our greatest desires sometimes lead us down paths we would not otherwise go. For some reason, Kay's comments on his enduring involvement in education made me think of this passage from a profile of Ludwig Wittgenstein in the Paris Review:
We all struggle to form a self. Great teaching, Wittgenstein reminds us, involves taking this struggle and engaging in it with others; his whole life was one great such struggle. In working with poor children, he wanted to transform himself, and them.
Wittgenstein wanted to create a better adult of himself and so engaged for six years in "the struggle to form a self" with elementary school students. Let's hope that the students in his charge grew into better adults as well. As Kay says later in the same interview, "Education is a double-edged sword. You have to start where people are, but if you stay there, you're not educating." -----