Can we begin by reading Dewey's Dream (see citation above) and then start a series of critical and constructive discussions based on three main objectives stated by its authors in their "Preface":

1) to "...trace the complex process whereby Dewey developed his utopian (i.e., inspiring) vision of a global "Great Community" composed of participatory democratic societies living together peacefully and harmoniously."

2) to "...critically analyze Dewey's failure to specify and demonstrate empirically the practical means needed to realize his utopian vision."

3) to "...propose a possible solution in order to stimulate the development of a massive worldwide academic movement dedicated to solving the terribly hard, critically important problem Dewey failed to solve."

The authors go on to state that their "primary purposes are agenda setting and movement initiating, not thesis stimulate the constructive criticism, creative counterproposals, serious sustained debate, and experimental action necessary for an interactive international network of academics to develop the practical means necessary to solve the "Dewey Problem" and to realize Dewey's inspiring vision of a global "Great Community."

Can this group be a place for us at CR2.0 to participate in such an initiative? How would such participation compare with feedback generated by Secretary of Education Spellings' recent call for input?

Please participate in learning more about Dewey's Dream.


Tags: Dewey, civil+society, democratic+citizenship, public+schools, unrealized+dream

Views: 63

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Skip, my experience with Dewey has been much more at the individual/classroom level, and with the advent of the Internet my perception of just what "education" and "school" might mean has really changed. On the one hand, i continue to be disappointed, even appalled, by the way formal education happens in this country - but now, with the Internet, it seems like there is a real forum for learning to take place, collaboratively, cooperatively, without schools at all, which suits me just fine.

So I guess I am not so sure that I feel optimistic at all about the advent of "great communities" that have anything to do with formal education as we know it, which seems to me to be predicated on such seriously flawed principles that it is perhaps beyond reform. For myself, I do not feel like it worth my time advocating for such reform. Time I have spent trying to convince my colleagues that there is even anything wrong with college education has been wasted time (luckily, though, time spent with my students is not wasted since they, of course, already know the emperor has no clothes...)

Instead of educational reform per se, what I am excited about is the advent of "great communities" organized around people's real interests and activities, which is, I think, what Dewey himself would advocate.

So, projects like Project Gutenberg and Libri Vox amaze and impress me - they have nothing to do with schools (indeed, universities - with their abundant resources - have been absymal failures in the real promotion and development of online learning communities), but they are the product of the work of thousands of individuals pursuing their individual learning goals in ways that provide unprecedented collateral benefits for other people.

At least at my school, I have given up really expecting anything to happen at the institutional level that will promote the existence of learning communities online... but every semester, I teach 100 students how to use webpages, how to blog, use RSS feeds, create online discussion groups, online polls, where to find text and image and audio resources online, etc. etc. Those students create learning materials that get used by students the next semester, and by students at other schools, and it grows and grows...

I am just one teacher, but the Internet is allowing me to have an impact far beyond anything I ever expected, because it allows me to set each student off on their own Dewey-an quest of discovery and be able to SHARE the results of their quests with others.

Even better, my students and I don't need any permission to do this, we don't need any reforms, we don't need to do anything except DO what Dewey wants us to do: ask questions that matter to us, and find the answers. Here's a quote from Democracy and Education where I think you can see Dewey YEARNING for a technological possibility like the Internet but not really being even able to express it, since it is so unprecedented:

In an analogous way, since democracy stands in principle for free interchange, for social continuity, it must develop a theory of knowledge which sees in knowledge the method by which one experience is made available in giving direction and meaning to another. The recent advances in physiology, biology, and the logic of the experimental sciences supply the specific intellectual instrumentalities demanded to work out and formulate such a theory. Their educational equivalent is the connection of the acquisition of knowledge in the schools with activities, or occupations, carried on in a medium of associated life.

ONE EXPERIENCE IS MADE AVAILABLE IN GIVING DIRECTION AND MEANING TO ANOTHER. That, to me, is exactly what can happen on the Internet in a profound chain-reaction kind of way, so different from what happens when students read books from a library but are not able to put their OWN thoughts back on the shelf with the books. The Internet completes a circuit that was short-circuited before.

I would love to know what Dewey would have thought of the Internet... I personally think he would have embraced it with joy! :-)
ah, indeed - although when I make reference to the Internet, it is not so much to social communities like MySpace, Facebook, et al. (since I don't use them and don't really know much about them - probably because I am basically a kind of anti-social person, ha ha), but more to things people organize FOR THEMSELVES in order to accomplish a specific GOAL - a cancer support group, a letter-writing campaign, an ecommerce site where people who normally would never be able to go into business (no capital) are able to make money, etc.

what I see in the Internet is not an experience for se ("virtual experiences" like Second Life seem to me basically pretty silly since they are not exactly experiences to begin with, but a kind of, hmmm, shared fantasy?); instead, the Internet is a space for SHARING AND REFLECTION about experience, life experience, what people are doing in their world.

the question the Internet answers, I think, is how and when and where can sharing and reflection take place: the Internet seems to have solved that problem in a profound way, because it makes the sharing and reflection into a public thing, something that can contribute to an ever-expanding body of knowledge, as opposed to the private sharing and reflection that happens inside the walls of a classroom, church, home or any other room which is confined in space and time, unlike the Internet.

Great idea! I have Dewey's Democracy and Education (1917) right here on my bookshelf. Always been a fan. Smile!
If JD were here today, what would he do with technology to realize his dream? Let's get to work friends.



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