Democracy and Education, John Dewey (1916)
John Dewey remains an influential philosopher and thinker today. This seminal book along with his other works like My Pedagogic Creed (1897), The School and Society (1900), The Child and the Curriculum (1902) and Experience and Education (1938) lays the groundwork for so much of the progressive thinking around education that has happened over the last century, especially in North America.
Dewey was a political philosopher even when he was writing about education: “Obviously a society, to which stratification into separate classes would be fatal, must see to it that intellectual opportunities are accessible to all on equable and easy terms. A society marked off into classes need be specially attentive only to the education of its ruling elements. A society which is mobile, which is full of channels for the distribution of a change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability. Otherwise, they will be overwhelmed by the changes in which they are caught and whose significance or connections they do not perceive. The result will be a confusion in which a few will appropriate to themselves the results of the blind and externally directed activities of others.”
This book is in the public domain and can be found on Project Gutenberg.