Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reflecting Democracy in Education

Great post on Education Policy Blog: Democracy Is a Learning Theory, informed by John Dewey's perspectives.

It turns out that democratic education is considerably more difficult than a form of education that seeks primarily to induct the young into the ways of the old. Dewey spent considerable efforts during his career to try to outline the principles and methods of democratic education, and remained frustrated that many readers of his works seemed unable to escape the tired dualism of an education that is primarily grounded in tradition and one which is primarily aiming to free the myriad possibilities of each child. The best education, Dewey argued, would take account of both the curriculum—taken from the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of intellectual and social tradition—and the child, with his or her creativity, fresh perspective, and lively imagination.

It is important to understand how Dewey’s concept of democracy connects with this nuanced and hard-to-achieve conception of education. Education cannot be considered apart from the conditions of associated living in the society, and such conditions cannot be considered separate from education. Life rooted in “conjoint communicated experience” is inherently educative; young people in a democracy inevitably grow to become participants in shared activities and shared governance; and schools—as institutions explicitly designed to further education—must necessarily be continuously redesigned to serve—and reflect—democracy.
Worth reading: Dewey'sThe School and Society & The Child and the Curriculum

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