Thursday, February 4, 2010


I stored this quote a while ago, from the explanation of Open Education in the Education Encyclopedia -

'Dewey believed that... The school is a microcosm of society, not to be separated from the child's familiar context of family, community, social norms, daily life–all areas that children need to confront and comprehend. Education is a process of living in the here and now, not
a preparation for future life.

If each child is brought into "membership within a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with the instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely, and harmonious," Dewey wrote (Dewey on Education: Selections by Martin Dworkin, p. 49). Throughout, he emphasized the value and importance of childhood and the influence of social environment upon individual development. All this reflects a long-standing American faith in the civilizing power of education via the common school.'

Yes! But then the article goes on to discuss how and why Open education didn't take hold in the mainstream, although it did make many inroads. ..basically not everyone wanted what Dewey saw as the crux of education.

Fast forward to the sticky issues that never got resolved and are coming up so intensely today. A few days ago there was a wonderful op ed piece in the NY Times by Susan Engel, senior lecturer in psychology and the director of the teaching program at Williams College, called Playing to Learn
The article is the best piece I have seen in the mainstream media in a long time to describe Dewey's (and my) understanding of what we are about. So, are we any further as a society in terms of agreement about the goals of education? If you look at how the Obama administration is going about things, you would have to say the answer is "no."

One more piece for your "to do" list of reading material: The New Yorker" article on Arne Duncan.

You can see where the man comes from. We are so close, and yet so far apart! How do we bridge that gap, which leaves us going round in circles about the acheivement gap?

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