(Note to self: the idea that he would change some things makes this a very important preface to read-- a new lens through which to see his original writing.)
Many American educators have looked for a classical paideia (the process of educating humans into their 'true form', ie., virtue), and these ideas are found rather than invented. A rich context in which to put knowledge is to ask, "What should one do?"
This question elicits not only knowledge, but wisdom, and it draws the interest of the student into any subject, no matter how obscure or far removed from his day-to-day concerns.
Mr. Hicks' book differs from other modern education theorists' writings in that it honestly confronts the idea of dogma in education. Other theorists propose that the end of education is to master thinking skills and understand basic ideas in the intellectual tradition (Western or otherwise), but:
The aims of education... must express, not just ideas, but norms, tending to make young people not only rational, but noble. For this reason I have differed from many modern writers on education by insisting upon the necessity of dogma, by attempting to circumscribe the use of skepticism and analysis, and by emphasizing the role of teachers as what Edwin deLattre calls "practitioners of the art of learning."
Nowadays, skepticism and analysis are highly regarded tools in the classroom, often the centerpiece of modern education. However, skepticism tends to kill both imagination and acceptance, making it more difficult for students to embrace non-scientific truths (ie., beauty, loyalty, courage) and producing emotional detachment*:
How can science and mathematics remain at the core of the modern curriculum and contribute to man's search for objective truth and self-understanding without imposing a narrow empiricist agenda on the rest of the school? How can we teach science in a way that serves the technological needs of our society and the spiritual needs of our students? These are difficult and urgent questions.
*(Haha, like this emotionally detached blog post. I am just trying so hard to understand what he is saying. Maybe things will loosen up later. And I really like the point he made about skepticism and analysis. Reminds me of that section in Madam How and Lady Why when Charles Kingsley talks about how once Analysis has pulled everything apart, he cannot tell how to put it together again, because he cannot return life to something he has killed. And I like science and trying to prove things wrong and picking things apart, but I agree that we focus on it too much.)