Friday, February 20, 2015

The Real John Dewey

Ironically, the great philosopher John Dewey is now little known among liberals, but quite well known among conservatives, for whom he serves as a bete noire of the first rank. Or maybe a boogeyman is a better label, since the Dewey they decry as the father of "progressive" education is a complete caricature, predicated on the idea that Dewey thought children should just do their own thing with no guidance or rigor. This is hogwash, but more on that later. Dewey figures large in my professional life, and in my research I came across Dewey's NYT obit from June 2, 1952. In it, they shared this amazing quote from Dewey, one worth reflecting on. "If I were asked," said Dewey, "to name the most needed of all reforms in the spirit of education I should say: 'Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make of it the full meaning of the the present life.'"

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