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Dare the School Build a New Social Order? (Arcturus Paperbacks, No. AB 143)

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0809308781
ISBN-10: 0809308789
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Certain to give hope to all who be­lieve educational reform is still possible.”       —Change

About the Author

Wayne J. Urban is Associate Profes­sor, Department of Educational Foun­dations, Georgia State University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press (November 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809308789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809308781
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew N. McKnight on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Count's brief book on the role of teachers in the shaping of society's values is a must read for future teachers and anyone interested in the social foundations of education. By positing that teacher should champion classroom discourse that focuses on issues of democratic living, he places the emphasis of the curriculum where it should be - issues of social justice. Likewise the implementation of this ethically conscious curriculum is left in the hands of those who, if empowered, could have the greatest impact concerning issues of equity in American society - classroom teachers. The relevance of Count's criticism of racism, rote education and of the dangers of unchecked capitalism are such that this work could have just as easily been written in our present.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. Mercer on December 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be inspiring. While I am mired in the realities of grad studies in education--lesson plans, theory, pedagogy, etc.--this book helped remind me of why I wanted to pursue teaching in the first place. Counts calls for teachers to become leaders, not just in their schools or local communities, but as an effective, powerful political force. We are the ones in the trenches, aren't we the experts on education in America? Shouldn't we know how to fix it? Shouldn't we try?
The book is a bit dated--I couldn't help by shake my head in disgust when I read Counts ideas of what a teacher's union could and should do and compared it to my limited experience with those organizations. He presents an idealized movement where social problems that are the root of educational problems are addressed/eliminated, where teachers are respected leaders and seen as the professionals they are, and where our schools, in the end, effectively serve more students than they currently do.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was originally published in 1932. Wayne Urban’s introduction was written in 1978 and makes frequent reference to how many of the conditions Counts talks about in the 1930s were still relevant “today” (Urban’s time, the 1970s). Well, here we are in 2015 and still many of the conditions are still the same. I don’t know whether to be pessimistic because we keep facing (and losing) the same battles over and over again, or optimistic because at least we haven’t completely annihilated ourselves yet and maybe, this time, we’ll get it right.

Counts was writing toward the beginning of the Depression, but despite the desperation and misery caused by the crisis, he felt there was also an opportunity for change and growth. He didn’t see much hope for such change from the political or economic fronts, but he saw a glimmer of hope in education. At least, one branch of education: progressive education. The book is actually a compilation of speeches given to the Progressive Education Association.

First, however, Counts starts by indicting many progressive educators, progressive schools and the families who send their kids to such schools for being too complacent, for trying to be “neutral” and remove the messiness of politics from education. Such parents and educators, he charges, tend themselves to be from the comfortable classes who benefit from the status quo, so they have created a form of education that replicates it.

He discusses how wary schools, especially progressive schools, have become about “influencing” children. First, they are concerned about susceptibility to charges of “indoctrination”.
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Format: Paperback
Education consists of what we teach and how we teach. The TL;DR version this book is that what we teach is social justice and how we teach it is directly and firmly. Despite this simple gloss Counts book remains worth reading even today by any educator or potential educator who wants to think clearly about the what and the how of education, provided they can move beyond the dated references.

In order to understand Counts' approach it is helpful to compare him with the person he considered his mentor, John Dewey. Both Counts and Dewey agree that the school and thus the teacher act within the complex web of a country's culture and that this interaction is essential to the school's mission. The school is not an ivory tower; it is a living cell within the social organism. Further, they share the view that everything the school is and does educates the child--education is much more than the formal content of the in-class curriculum; it includes everything from the the physical structure of the campus, to the length of the school day, to the arrangement of the furniture, and even the personality of the teacher. In sum, both Dewey and Counts agree that in a real and tangible way the education of the child in the school shapes the future of the broader culture.

The difference between Dewey and Counts lies in their approach to how this social transformation is to take place. Dewey believes that the education of the child is a subtle, gradual transformation that is "to arise from the very nature of the work performed." Education as a process of character formation should be largely transparent to the student.
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Dare the School Build a New Social Order? (Arcturus Paperbacks, No. AB 143)
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