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Democracy and Education
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2004
Dewey always said that his 1916 Democracy and Education was the fullest statement of his philosophy, although many have ignored this claim. One of the major stumbling blocks in reading Dewey is his appropriation of terms that mean something very specific to him, such as democracy, experience, growth, philosophy, and education. In using these terms, he leaves behind all of the classical dualisms between the self and society, mind and subject matter, theory and practice, and others. (For instance, society educates selves and selves constitute and can modify societal practices).
The key to democracy is education (which is much more than just schooling) that promotes criticism, self-education, and constant growth. Philosophy, in the broadest sense, is criticism. Since life is best lived as growth (the unexamined life is not worth living), and democracy is the best way to deal with the constant changes that all societies face, an education that helps children love learning and change is essential to a democratic society. Unfortunately, many societal constructs are educative in a narrow sense, and allow us to be complacently self-satisfied and rigid in our habits (ie we become fundamentalists). Dewey warns against the "business mind" that, since the writing of this book, has thoroughly permeated many institutions, including the university. Children naturally are inquisitive and love growth, but many societal constructs, such as traditional schooling or dogmatic religious practices, dampen this curiosity.
Dewey was a radical thinker, but his prose is plodding and sometimes obscures his revolutionary message. Although Dewey was a trained philosopher and was a Hegelian until he read William James' Principles of Psychology, Dewey is much easier to read than most philosophers. Still, the philosophical content is there for those who need it. For those less philosophically inclined, you won't be missing out on too much. Also, to respond to another reviewer, Dewey was a socialist in the same way that Social Security is socialistic. He merely felt that a truly democratic society must allow equal educational opportunities for all. Finally, the claim that his work was unscientific is ridiculous. He ran the first laboratory school at the University of Chicago with the help of Jane Addams, amongst other reformists, to test his theories. And, his philosophy, like James', is in response to the major scientific advances of his time.
An amazing work for philosophers, educators, and social thinkers alike.
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on December 28, 1999
Dewey's classic work, although tedious at times, is 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. Dewey is truly a giant not only of modern educational theory but of progressive humanitarian thought generally. Those who disparage him in a knee jerk fashion out of a misguided effort to trash the "liberal establishment," like the Intercollegiate Scholastic Insititute (ISI) which named "Democracy and Education" as one of the five worst books of the 20th Century, have radically misconstrued Dewey's views which merit serious study and application in practice. Dewey was truly one of the great Americans of the last century of which all people of good will can be proud.
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on November 4, 1999
This book is goes into depth everything we have discuss so far in my education 2403 class. It shows how Dewey's ideas relates to today classroom. It gie history and gives examples to explain the trend they are trying to get a cross. I do not think the book was bias because he talked about other philosophers and other people experiences. He also discussd the develpoing stages of infants to adulthood. The book was very long and sometimes boring, but oveall I enjoyed it. I recommend this book to anyone who plan going to get any kind of master's degree or doctoral degree in education. I liked the book because it shows how education is still doing the same thing it has been doing for years. It suggests techniques like inquiry learning and cooperative learning. These things are very vital in an educational system. This book displays all these characterisitcs. I disliked the book because it was to lengthy in telling what the point was to that particulare chapter. One last thing this book does not discuss the same thing all the way through the entire book it talk about totally different subjects and that's why I encourage anyone in education to get a copy and read.
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Perhaps the fact that this great work receives so little attention is indicative of what ails education: educators focus their attention on all the latest drivel concerning education while only paying lip service to Dewey, who remains the highest-ranking educational philosopher. It pains me to hear and read bungling educators mindlessly parrot Dewey's catch phrases (e.g., "learning by doing") while pushing educational doctrines completely antithetical to Dewey's ideas. Dewey had it right, but is grossly misunderstood by the bozos who vapidly regurgitate his words and phrases. In other words, I recommend that you go to the source.
If you are in any way concerned with or interested in education and happen to stumble upon this lonely page, do yourself, your kids, and/or your students a favor and study this book carefully; It eclipses all other books on education.
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on December 7, 1999
As an Education major at Macon State College, I read this book for my Education 2403 class. Despite my problems with this book, I have to say, that Dewey was WAY ahead of his time, in my opinion! Most of his theories are relevant today, and as such, I can only imagine the reaction he received in the early 1900's. Unfortunately, this book is not easy to read. It feels much too technical in both language and philosophy. For a student just entering an Educational major program, I think it would be great! However, at this stage, the theories were repetitious to me. I had difficulty remaining focused as I read it. One point to emphasize: we Never stop learning! I hope that I can incorporate each of the many theories as I continue my own education.
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on March 4, 1999
Dewey describes a philosophy of education that values and respects the learner through experiential and situated educational experiences. Despite the fact that Democracy and Education was published at the beginning of the century, many of the common sense ideas that Dewey suggests have yet to be implemented in American education. Democracy and Education supplies educators with a valuable alternative to the traditional philosophy of education that is based on a socially constructed dis-connect between formal schooling and the social context that educatoin is situated in. Dewey starts with what he sees as the foundations of education, then builds a philosophy of education that sees a democratic society as the ultimate goal of American education.
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on September 19, 2013
Dewey's Democracy and Education is a fantastic read, a must for any educator or policy maker. written in 1916, the ideas within it seem drastically ahead of its time. Dewey goes through numerous subjects and topics through his book. My favorite section is on what democratic education actually means. His idea around the "democratic ideal" are moving. The one downside to this book is its length. In his time, it was common for writers to write very long, verbose manuscripts filled with many examples and additions. In my opinion, these detract from his overall message. But, if you can get through it, or at least start by reading sections that are of interest to you, you'll find within these pages a great amount of wisdom and insight.
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on November 4, 1999
I am a college student majoring in education and I read Democracy and Education for a class. I found this book to be very incitful. I find it hard to believe that John Dewey one of the most important philosophers recognized problems at the beginning of the century and we still have them today. One of Deweys ideas state that we learn by doing, this is still not a norm in todays curriculum. I thought this book was excellent but in parts found it difficult to either read or understand.
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on November 4, 1999
I am a college student majoring in education and I read Democracy and Education for a class. I found this book to be very incitful. I find it hard to believe that John Dewey one of the most important philosophers recognized problems at the beginning of the century and we still have them today. One of Deweys ideas state that we learn by doing, this is still not a norm in todays curriculum. I thought this book was excellent but in parts found it difficult to either read or understand.
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on December 7, 1999
I found most of this book useful, things I learned in my education classes came up frequently. I think that this book was a bit outdated, although it did have some very relevant information. I found it a bit hard to read because of the language. The content at times was boring. On the whole, I think that this book was a good historical account on what educationally philosophy was in it's time.
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