Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education

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9781449983673: Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education
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"Democracy and Education," a classic work by John Dewey, provides a cogent and landmark exposition of progressive educational theory. Democracy for Dewey was both a means and an end to the building of a good and just society. In this regard he sought to develop strategies and methods for training students through learning and discipline to become socially responsible adults and conscientious citizens concerned with the rights of others and the common good and to be equipped with the knowledge and technical skills to be productive members of society in the context of our modern industrial world. In "Democracy and Education" Dewey sought to at once synthesize, criticize, and expand upon the democratic (or proto-democratic) educational philosophies of Rousseau and Plato. He saw Rousseau's philosophy as overemphasizing the individual and Plato's philosophy as overemphasizing the society in which the individual lived. For Dewey, this distinction was by and large a false one; like Vygotsky, he viewed the mind and its formation as a communal process. Thus the individual is only a meaningful concept when regarded as an inextricable part of his or her society, and the society has no meaning apart from its realization in the lives of its individual members. Dewey's educational theories, as explained in "Democracy and Education," have enjoyed a broad popularity during his lifetime and after. Today Dewey is regarded a giant of both modern educational theory and progressive humanitarian thought, one of the great Americans of the last century of which all people of good will can be proud.

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About the Author:

John Dewey (1859–1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been very influential to education and social reform. Dewey, along with Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, is recognized as one of the founders of the philosophy of pragmatism and of functional psychology. He was a major representative of the progressive and progressive populist philosophies of schooling during the first half of the 20th century in the USA. Although Dewey is known best for his publications concerning education, he also wrote about many other topics, including experience and nature, art and experience, logic and inquiry, democracy, and ethics. In his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—as being major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully-formed public opinion, accomplished by effective communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.

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