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Second, discipline-based learning is giving way to problem-based learning. Third, there is a growing emphasis on collaborative learning, as opposed to individual learning. And fourth, new technologies are making teaching more individualized and interactive. What the future of American higher education will look like, Ehrlich says, depends to a large extent on how the issue that divided Dewey and Hutchins is finally resolved. Will education "continue to be shaped primarily by a small group of universities dedicated to training an elite cadre of intellectual leaders, using the model if not the substance urged by Hutchins?
Or will undergraduate education be increasingly formed by the needs of its consumers and by institutions that view their primary mission as responding to those needs? Dewey formulated what remains one of the most wide-ranging and persuasive arguments for a strong public sphere.
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His theory was initially developed in response to the widespread effort following World War I to reconstruct democratic theory according to the norms of objective science. Largely a product of the new alliance between psychology especially behaviorism and political analysis, this movement emphasized the irrational motivation underlying human social life and raised serious questions about the capacity of ordinary citizens for the sort of rational deliberation and judgment that Dewey found essential to democratic politics.
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Spearheaded by men such as Charles Merriam and Harold Laswell, the "democratic realists" argued that American democracy required a redefinition of its core principles that "considerably closed the gap between the ideal and reality," Westbrook writes. They felt that democracy "should be conceived less as a republic of active citizens than as a system of responsible elites, a system well within reach in the United States. Walter Lippmann was by far the most influential of the democratic realists and his book Public Opinion , published in , represented "perhaps the most effective indictment of democracy as currently conceived ever penned," according to Dewey.
Lippmann advanced the idea that most people, no matter how well educated, were open to manipulation. Subjugating civic self-determination in the name of efficient government could never be consistent with true democracy, he declared. In the first place, if the masses were as "intellectually irredeemable" as the critics implied, they would in any case have too many desires and too much power to permit rule by experts. Otherwise they would have to ally themselves with the masses, and that implies, once more, a share in government by the latter.
Dewey also argued that just as experts could not make policy that was truly public , so too policy makers need not be experts. This was essentially an argument against professionalism, for in his view the public must have the capacity to "judge the bearing of the knowledge supplied by others upon common concerns.
Unlike the democratic realists, Dewey believed that direct participation in a democracy would foster an unexpected talent for thoughtful deliberation in ordinary citizens.
Democracy and Education
The difficulty was to unleash this intelligence, which remained "dormant" until "it possesses the local community as its medium. John Dewey embraced a wide range of public roles over the course of his long career — philosopher, educator, pragmatist, political activist, intellectual — but Westbrook interprets him first and foremost as a political thinker whose philosophy was always driven by a commitment to the values of community, public life, and shared experience.
For Dewey, metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and ethical theory were all means toward the same end: securing the conditions of a viable participatory democracy. Peter Gay has observed that there are two ways of being unpolitical — "to think that politics can do everything, and to think that politics can do nothing. Indeed, his faith in ordinary citizens, in "the public," was roundly criticized by the democratic realists for what they saw as its excessive idealism. Yet Dewey was not unpolitical. As he wrote in Ethics , democracy, rightly conceived, is not so much a goal as it is a process — and a highly political one at that.
It involves constant meeting and solving of problems — that is to say, the desired harmony is never brought about in a way which meets and forestalls all future developments. Drawing from practices of civic engagement, critical pedagogy, civil discourse and service learning, civic education seeks to strengthen democracy. Start from the premise that democracy is necessarily deliberative II.
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Articulate distinct concepts of citizenship behind goals of civic education III. Analyze different forms of patriotism which inform trends in the U. Civil discourse is essential to democracy and a core element of civic education approaches. The role of civil discourse is regarded as important by scholars throughout the civic education conversation, whether that takes the shape of mock debates in government class or engaging local community members in dialogue through service learning.
Drawing on democratic theory and their findings from a two-year study of U.
The conflation of this ideologically conservative conception of citizenship with the broad notion of civic education is pernicious to the role education must play in strengthening democracy today. Such frameworks of citizenship necessarily employ civic discourse, critical thought, participation in civic life and the pursuit of justice. All three scholars will be involved in the Winter course. How is a writer so difficult so influential? As a contemporary of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx, Dewey studied the societal impact of industrialization, the rise of the experimental method, and the perspectives offered on education by the then-new fields of evolutionary biology, sociology and anthropology.
While Dewey saw industrialization and experimental science as the major shaping forces of his lifetime, he argued that students learn best the way pre-industrial youth learned trades in family enterprises — experientially and with purpose. Hates memorizing.