It was not in Ann Arbor that Dewey engaged himself in problems of pedagogy and schools for which he is renowned, but in Chicago from 1894 to 1904. Once again, it was an uber-man and older mentor, this time William Rainey Harper, first president of the University of Chicago, who greatly influenced Dewey's thinking and professional development. Harper's zealous commitment to the reform of Chicago schools, his wider, messianic vision that the American university and precollegiate schooling system must powerfully accelerate "democratic progress," and the great importance he placed upon pedagogy and education--all provided Dewey with the impetus to take up public schooling, not the communications media, as the strategic agency for the participatory democratic society he had envisioned in 1888.
Who are the William Rainey Harpers and the John Deweys who follow them of our day? Where do we find the vision and leadership to seize today's opportunity for education reform?