Friday, March 25, 2016

Democracy and Education (100 years)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of John Dewey’s masterful book Democracy and Education.

There is so much that could be said in praise of Dewey’s insightful and original contributions to democracy theory and education. I just wanted to note the following passage, which is very relevant to contemporary debates about ideal theory. When articulating the worth of any mode of social life, Dewey aptly remarked:

“In seeking this measure, we have to avoid two extremes. We cannot set up, out of our heads, something we regard as an ideal society. We must base our conception upon societies which actually exist, in order to have any assurance that our ideal is a practical one. But, as we have just seen, the ideal cannot simply repeat the traits which are actually found. The problem is to extract the desirable traits of forms of community life which actually exist, and employ them to criticize undesirable features and suggest improvement.”