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Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform, Civil Society, Public Schools, and Democratic Citizenship
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Michael Malahy Morris
Research Professor and Director
Community Learning & Public Service
University of New Mexico
Fulbright New Century Scholar 2007-2008
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›