John Dewey’s Democracy and Education makes Human Events’ list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th centuries. (So does Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique.)
But Dewey is taking the blame for his followers’ excesses, writes Chris Correa, quoting from a 1928 Christian Science Monitor.
He made it clear that he approves of such freedom for children as releasing them from wooden benches where they have sat in rows like galley slaves in Roman triremes so that now they may push their chairs around the classroom to the position which suits them best. But, he said, in the effort to allow “child interest” to determine the day’s work there has come an indulgence of casual whims “not likely to lead to anything fruitful.”
“Dewey suggested teachers were too concerned with catering to students’ interest and were not giving enough thought to organizing their learning of subject matter in meaningful ways,” Chris writes. Again the Monitor:
In his opinion teachers waste much time thinking about the individual differences of their pupils which “might better be devoted to discovering some worth-while activity and to arranging the conditions under which it can be carried forward.”
Education debates never go away; they just cycle round, again and again.
Jenny D has more thoughts on the dangers of Dewey.