Pages: 1 2
“I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words: Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
Ideas he fostered and championed are fast disappearing. Some final comments on that below.
John Dewey was an America philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer. He advocated progressive education and liberalism. He considered an educated public fundamental to democracy.
He believed education should be freely available to everyone from kindergarten to college. His progressive education ideas were later codified as follows:
(1) Student conduct “shall be governed by themselves, according to the social needs of” society.
(2) “Interest shall be the motive for all work.”
(3) Teachers should inspire a desire to learn. They should be guides in the educational process.
(4) “Scientific study of each pupil’s development, physical, mental, social, and spiritual is absolutely critical to the essential direction of his (her) development.”
(5) Attention should be paid to all childhood needs.
(6) Cooperation should be fostered between school and home.
(7) Progressive schools are laboratories to increase learning.
He equated learning with freedom. He warned against uneducated masses. He opposed dual track education.
“The world in which most of us live is a world in which everyone has a calling and occupation, something to do,” he said.
“Some are managers and others are subordinates. But the great thing for one as for the other is that each shall have had the education which enables him to see within his daily work all there is in it of large and human significance.”
Education should be more than creating “human capital.”
“The inclination to learn from life itself and to make the conditions of life such that all will learn in the process of living is the finest product of schooling.”
He believed both in liberal arts and real-world skills teaching. Everyone should have a chance for “large and human significance” in their lives and work.
In 1897, he published his “pedagogic creed.” Learning begins “unconsciously almost from birth.”
“I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that society is an organic union of individuals.”
“If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction; if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert and lifeless mass.”
Schools are social institutions, he believed. They should be integrated into community life. “Education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.”
He called the ideal school one that serves individual and institutional needs. He said “the community’s duty to education is (a) paramount moral duty.”
“I believe it is the business of every one interested in education to insist upon the school as the primary and most effective instrument of social progress and reform in order that society may be awakened to realize what the school stands for, and aroused to the necessity of endowing the educator with sufficient equipment properly to perform his task.”
Dewey and Mann would be horrified about what’s happening today. They’d denounce how education is being commodified. It’s mirror opposite of their vision. It’s being systematically destroyed.
Budgets are slashed. Teachers en masse are laid off or fired. Hundreds of schools are closed where they’re most needed. Inner city kids won’t have them in their communities.
Democrats and Republicans are in lockstep on policy at the federal, state and local levels. In the last two years alone, over 250,000 teachers lost jobs. From September 2011 through June 2012, 50,000 lost them.
How many hundreds of thousands more will be tolerated? How many more communities will put up with losing schools? How long will ordinary people accept commodified education replacing the real thing? How much more will families take before rebelling?
What about teacher rights? They’re pressured to work longer for less pay and benefits. They’re rated by robotized learning results. They’re fired and replaced at half pay.
They’re losing effective collective bargaining rights. Corrupt union bosses sell them out for their own self-interest. Public education in America is dying. A decade from now it may not exist.
Primary and secondary education today already are gravely compromised. Imagine what’s likely ahead. Abolitionist Frederick Douglas once said: “I have found that to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.”
Globalization fosters inequality, instability, and unemployment. Wage slavery replaced its chattel antecedent. Teachers are affected like other workers. Hard won rights are compromised and lost.
The state of the nation overall is troubling. The targeting and destruction of public education alone reflects class warfare.
It reveals contempt for democratic principles. It’s a dagger in the heart of equal opportunity and freedom. It shows why America no longer is fit to live in. People have three choices: accept loss of all rights, leave, or rebel.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Pages: 1 2