I’m working on a master’s degree in Sociology with a focus on cultures and institutions. Today, I came across an interesting observation in a paper written in 1903 by Georg Simmel entitled The Metropolis and Mental Life. I have nothing to add to what he says here. I’m sure that educators will understand its meaning, and considering this idea has been around for over 100 years, can ponder on the reasons why things have still gotten to where they are today:
Here in buildings and educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technology, in the formations of community life, and in the visible institutions of the state, is offered such an overwhelming fullness of crystallized and impersonalized spirit that the personality, so to speak, cannot maintain itself under its impact. On the one hand, life is made infinitely easy for the personality in that stimulations, interests, uses of time and consciousness are offered to it from all sides. They carry the person as if in a stream, and one needs hardly to swim for oneself. On the other hand, however, life is composed more and more of these impersonal contents and offerings which tend to displace the genuine personal colorations and incomparabilities. This results in the individual’s summoning the utmost in uniqueness and particularization, in order to preserve his most personal core. He has to exaggerate this personal element in order to remain audible even to himself.