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Dewey's Dream

Dewey's Dream: Universities and Democracies in an Age of Education Reform

Lee Benson
Ira Harkavy
John Puckett
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 149
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  • Book Info
    Dewey's Dream
    Book Description:

    This timely, persuasive, and hopeful book reexamines John Dewey's idea of schools, specifically community schools, as the best places to grow a democratic society that is based on racial, social, and economic justice. The authors assert that American colleges and universities bear a responsibility for-and would benefit substantially from-working with schools to develop democratic schools and communities.

    Dewey's Dreamopens with a reappraisal of Dewey's philosophy and an argument for its continued relevance today. The authors-all well-known in education circles-use illustrations from over 20 years of experience working with public schools in the University of Pennsylvania's local ecological community of West Philadelphia, to demonstrate how their ideas can be put into action. By emphasizing problem-solving as the foundation of education, their work has awakened university students to their social responsibilities. And while the project is still young, it demonstrates that Dewey's "Utopian ends" of creating optimally participatory democratic societies can lead to practical, constructive school, higher education and community change, development, and improvement.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-593-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Dewey’s Lifelong Crusade for Participatory Democracy
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    IN THE RAPIDLY ACCELERATING GLOBAL ERA in which we now live, human beings must solve a vast array of unprecedently complex problems. Perhaps the most complex and most frightening problem is, what is to be done to prevent the possibility of a world perpetually terrorized by suicidal fanatics capable of acquiring and using scientifically and technologically advanced weapons of mass destruction to produce horrors instantly experienced by a worldwide audience? Given the proclaimed dedication of universities to critical intelligence, and their unique constellation of formidable resources to develop it, academics, we submit, have a unique responsibility to help solve that...

  5. Part I

    • 1 Michigan Beginnings, 1884–1894
      (pp. 3-12)

      IN 1884 DEWEY COMPLETED graduate work in philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and began teaching at the University of Michigan. A committed Christian and Hegelian philosopher, he had little interest in societal theory or problems of democracy. By 1888, however, his interests and orientation had changed radically.

      For a complex set of personal and intellectual reasons, which were probably influenced by the social and ideological conflicts then angrily dividing American society, Dewey enthusiastically advocated a new social theory. It was based on the “neo-Hegelian understanding of society as a peculiar kind of moral organism and the related notion of individual...

    • 2 Dewey at the University of Chicago, 1894–1904
      (pp. 13-44)

      IF OUR PROPOSITIONS ARE NOT taken literally, John Dewey primarily became Dewey in Chicago and henceforth essentially lived off the intellectual capital he developed at that university and in that city. Obviously, we deliberately oversimplify and exaggerate to help make our basic point: Dewey’s most important intellectual development took place in Chicago, and he did his most important work there. Though he never lost interest in the theory of communication that excited him so greatly at Michigan, it was not until he went to Chicago that he saw that the best strategy for developing a participatory democratic society was to...

    • 3 Dewey Leaves the University of Chicago for Columbia University
      (pp. 45-62)

      SOON AFTER HIS 1902 ADDRESS to the National Education Association, John Dewey quarreled with William Rainey Harper and others over the operation of the remarkably comprehensive School of Education, which Harper had finally succeeded in creating to implement his long-held vision of a highly integrated schooling system, from kindergarten through university. As a result of those quarrels, Dewey decided to trade his position at a university that was directly and actively engaged in the problems of its city for one in the traditionally scholastic Department of Philosophy at Columbia University.¹

      In light of Dewey’s vision of the transforming role schools...

    • 4 Elsie Clapp’s Contributions to Community Schools
      (pp. 63-74)

      AS NOTED IN CHAPTER 2, in his 1902 address Dewey had not assigned the neighborhood school two sets of responsibilities:

      To organize itself so that its resources of various kinds (e.g., staff, administrative skills, prestige, access to “influentials”) could be used to solve specific neighborhood problems;

      To organize its “day-school” curriculum and activities so as to engage its students in real-world community problem- solving (i.e., learning and knowing by means of action-oriented community problem-solving, which requires initiative, imagination, and collaboration).

      Recognizing those responsibilities as logical extensions of Dewey’s general theory, his protégé Elsie Clapp attempted to organize community schools that...

  6. Part II

    • 5 Penn and the Third Revolution in American Higher Education
      (pp. 77-92)

      AS EMPHASIZED IN CHAPTER 2, the president of the University of Chicago, William Rainey Harper, significantly helped John Dewey see the critically important role the schooling system must play in the development of a democratic American society. Unfortunately, Dewey’s work on schools suffered badly from his failure to see what Harper saw so clearly, namely, that the research university must constitute the primary component of a highly integrated (pre-K–post 16) schooling system that could potentially function as the primary agent of democracy in the world and in the United States in particular. As we emphasized, Harper envisioned the university...

    • 6 The Center for Community Partnerships
      (pp. 93-110)

      ENCOURAGED BY THE SUCCESS of the university’s increasing engagement with West Philadelphia, in July 1992 President Hackney created the Center for Community Partnerships. To highlight the importance he attached to the center, he located it in the office of the president and appointed Ira Harkavy to be its director, while Harkavy continued to serve as director of the Penn Program for Public Service, created in 1988 in the School of Arts and Sciences. Symbolically and practically, creation of the center constituted a major change in Penn’s relationship with West Philadelphia and the city as a whole. In principle, by creating...

    • 7 The University Civic Responsibility Idea Becomes an International Movement
      (pp. 111-120)

      THE ACCELERATING POSITIVE CHANGES in Penn’s relationship to its local schools and community are neither atypical nor unique to Penn. More or less similar changes taking place throughout the United States testify to the emergence of a University Civic Responsibility movement—a national movement to construct an organizationally integrated, optimally democratic schooling system, as the most strategic means to advance American democracy.

      A convenient way to suggest the rapid development of that movement during the 1990s and early 2000s is to contrast its relatively flourishing condition today with the devastating indictment against American universities that Derek Bok, the president of...

    • 8 John Dewey, the Coalition for Community Schools, and Developing a Participatory Democratic American Society
      (pp. 121-126)

      AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS CHAPTERS, during the twentieth century a variety of “movements” for community schools episodically rose and fell in the United States. Beginning in the mid-1980s, a powerful revival was under way, and efforts to link schools and communities grew exponentially. Since then, universities (e.g., Penn), local and state governments, the United Way, parent and neighborhood associations, and business, civic, religious, and social organizations have all become increasingly involved with schools and have creatively developed a variety of ways to make their efforts more effective. Though American communities vary widely, the common goal has been to create support...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 127-128)
  8. Authorship
    (pp. 129-130)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 131-142)
  10. Index
    (pp. 143-150)
  11. About the Authors
    (pp. 151-151)