by James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center
John Dewey’s seminal Democracy and Education is arguably one of the most influential books on education published in the twentieth century. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of its publication, a recent volume proposes “ways of revising Dewey’s thought in light of the challenges facing contemporary education and society” (Garrison, Neubert, & Reich, 2016, p. 1). In Democracy and Education Reconsidered: Dewey After One Hundred Years, the authors work to reconstruct and re-contextualize Dewey’s educational philosophy through various themes, theories, and teaching situations that speak to the democratic issues of our time. Specific attention is given to matters of educational diversity, such as class, race, gender, and disability that were not directly touched upon in Dewey’s original work.
On the contribution of Dewey’s work to the topic of educational diversity, the authors write,
“Democracy and Education is essentially a program against discrimination in all possible forms. Dewey was critical of all forms of social injustice in his time and he often addressed issues of inequalities that threaten democratic living together…His insistence on the idea of equal opportunities in society and education and his powerful definition of education as personal and social growth that must include all in a democracy stand against exclusions, divisions, and compartmentalizations that obstruct communication and exchange between individuals, groups, and societies. It is a strong argument for living in and with diversity” (p. 192).
For Dewey, education and democracy must never be separated. The inclusive and sustainable participation of all people in education is foundational to a functioning democratic society. The authors of Democracy and Education Reconsidered carefully reconstruct and re-contextualize the enduring relevance of this core philosophy. For readers already familiar with Dewey’s work, the “reconsidered” volume offers a fresh perspective on his ideas for education today. For those new to Democracy and Education, it is a concise overview of the thematic contributions of Dewey’s one-hundred-year-old text for both the philosophy and practice of education.
If you would like to discuss Dewey’s educational philosophy and how it might inform your own teaching philosophy and practice, you can complete our online form to request a consultation or call us at (314) 977-3944.
Garrison, J., Neubert, S., & Reich, K. (2016). Democracy and education reconsidered: Dewey after one hundred years. New York, NY: Routledge.