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Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform, Civil Society, Public Schools, and Democratic Citizenship

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1592135929
ISBN-10: 1592135927
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dewey's Dreamis intellectually refreshing, provocative, persuasive, jargon free and downright practical. The authors organized the text to model for readers how to intertwine theory and practice to reveal ways that schools can promote participatory democracy. And John Dewey would be proud." -The Journal of Educational Research

About the Author

Benson is a sports writer/author/columnist who currently writes a Metro Page column for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press (March 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592135927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592135929
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael M. Morris on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Since the Post-World War II period, each decade has been marked by a book or two that shapes the discourse in higher education, not only in this country but across the globe. Benson, Harkavy and Puckett have captured a particular moment with this timely assessment of the essential democratic role of the modern university in an era of growing neo-liberalism, the commodification of knowledge, and the rise of the entrepreneural institutions across the world. The authors -- all noted historians with a commitment to public education -- have challenged the university and its supporters to re-claim their rightful catalytic and responsible function in building democratic societies, reforming the place and focus of higher education, and establishing a new spirit of civic responsibility through research, teaching and service towards community engagement. This is a powerful argument for how universities ought to more strategically impact society, local communities, and public education through the creative and productive application of the academic talent and assets each institution possesses. It is a inspiring and descriptive testament to what universities can do for society, for schools and to clearly demonstrate a deeper practice of democratic citizenship. I highly recommend this work for anyone who wants a renewed sense of hope and vision for our universities.

Michael Malahy Morris

Research Professor and Director

Community Learning & Public Service

University of New Mexico

Fulbright New Century Scholar 2007-2008
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Format: Paperback
The main purpose of the book is to celebrate as an unqualified success a certain programme at Penn, which was described (in terms approved by the authors) by the president of the university as follows: "Today, thousands of Penn faculty and students realize the unity of theory and practice by engaging West Philadelphia elementary and secondary school students as part of their own academic course work in disciplines as diverse as history, anthropology, classical studies, education, and mathematics. For example, anthropology Professor Frank Johnston and his undergraduate students educate students at West Philadelphia's Turner Middle School about nutrition. Classical studies professor Ralph Rosen uses modern Philadelphia and fifth-century-B.C. Athens to explore the interrelations between community, neighbourhood, and family. And history professor Michael Zuckerman's students engage West Philadelphia elementary and secondary school students to help them understand the nature---and discontinuities---of American national identity and national character." (pp. 95-96).

It seems to me that the euphoria for such things is based on uncritical faith in the axiom that "local" and "community" are both synonymous with "good." For little else by way of arguments is ever offered. One of the bogus arguments offered is that "all the research literature shows that the best learning takes place, not in studying theories and abstract forms, but in solving concrete problems" (p. 98). Even if, irrationally, this "research literature" was taken at face value, it would still not justify community engagement in any way since, for example, classical astronomy abounds in concrete problems. Another bogus argument is that it is somehow a good idea to "integrate" community action and traditional education.
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Format: Paperback
"Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform"
by Benson, L., Harkavy, I., & Puckett, J. (2007)

John Dewey's theory of "participatory democracy" (p. xii) in schools is tackled by Benson, Harkavy, & Puckett, authors of "Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform (2007)". This book is presented in two parts with 4 chapters each where the authors introduce the readers to the theoretical basics of Dewey's work and philosophy in his lifetime up to the attempts at current solutions to the "Dewey Problem" by means of university-assisted community schools (chapter 6). The authors started their argument by stating the fact (Dewey problem) that "Dewey never developed and implemented his theory in real world practice" (p. xii). For decades, these three outstanding professionals have been dedicated to developing "the concept of university-assisted community schools" to achieve democratic schools and communities. Therefore, they have tried to achieve Dewey's utopian idea of a "Good Society" (p. 11) currently known as a "Great Community" (p. xii).
The University of Pennsylvania has developed a partnership with its surrounding community to establish the bases of Dewey's theory. By emphasizing problem solving as the foundation of education, the authors show what is to be done to put ideas in practice. This kind of partnership is to be one out of diverse "examples and studies of university partnerships" (Sanders, 2005). Through such partnerships, students can be prepared to "transition from school to their careers" up to the successful achievement of employment (Sanders, p. 17) in a collaborative student-centered program. Throughout the book the readers can observe the development of Dewey's philosophy on school reform.
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