Walter Benjamin’s theory of education was first produced in conjunction with the theory of experience he developed in the years immediately preceding World War I, the period of his student activism. Integral to the discourse of both learning and experiencing in Benjamin is the idea of awakening as a function of remembrance and expectation. Already in the “early” Benjamin, historical remembrance is understood dialectically as awakening from and to “that dream we name the past” (as he will put it in The Arcades Project more than a decade later). At once metaphysical and sociological, this understanding of history shapes Benjamin’s concept of experience as learning and its relation to what is called tradition. Education here is initiation into the historical crisis of modernity.

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