Swiped from sassenach, because I wanted more people to read this:
I do not think we can treat as separate the quality of education and the quality of life in general. …I am saying that truly good education in a bad society is a contradiction in terms. In short, in a society that is absurd, unworkable, wasteful, destructive, secretive, coercive, monopolistic, and generally anti-human, we could never have good education, no matter what kind of schools the powers permit, because it is not the educators or the schools but the whole society and the quality of life in it that really educate. This means that whatever we do to improve the quality of life, for anyone, and in whatever part of his life, to that degree improves education. More and more it seems to me, and this is a reversal of what I felt not long ago, that it makes little sense to talk about education for social change, as if education could be a kind of getting ready. The best and perhaps only education for social change is action to bring about that change. The best and perhaps only way to prepare the young to work for a better world is to invite them, right now, to join us in working for it. We cannot say, “we will concentrate our efforts on making nice schools for you, and after you get out you can tackle the tough job of remaking the world.” Nor can we define ourselves as Good People whose task it is to defend children from All Those Other Bad People. There cannot be little worlds fit for children in a world not fit for anyone else. Once again, I am not saying what people so often say to me “We must change society before we can change the schools.” I am saying that society is the school; that men learn best and most from what is closest to the center of their lives; that men being above all else looking, asking, thinking, choosing, and acting animals, what men need above all else is a society in which they are to the greatest possible degree free and encouraged to look, ask, think, choose, and act; and that making this society is both the chief social or political and educational task of our time.