The Soviets loved John Dewey and they still love him in Madison, Wisconsin, and wherever else public employee teachers have taken to the streets.
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Most telling, and lasting, for Dewey, was the role of “environing forces.” He trumpeted the formative role of the “collective,” the “public,” and “socialization.” The individual student is subsumed by the “collective.”
This Deweyan view conformed to his broader vision for society and the world. Reality itself, the environment itself, progress itself, is always moving onward, never satisfied at its present state. A process of constant, ongoing flux and “reform” is always at hand. This is the essence of the political progressive.
In all, Dewey’s specter thrives. No doubt, his disciples will never go unneeded, if not unemployed, whether in the classroom or training teachers for the classroom, whether in educating or researching education, since experimentation and change is their modus operandi. There will always be something new to conjure up, with the one constant being the youthful guinea pig.
Taxpayers should shut up and fork over the bucks to subsidize the common good set to gush forth.
Finally, and especially significant, in light of today’s politics and education, Dewey judged that pursuing change through politics was frustratingly slow; doing so via education could be much quicker. This was a central theme in his best-known work, Democracy and Education (1916). The schoolhouse could be more efficacious than houses of legislatures.
That is no small point: It was the clarion call that compelled so many '60s radicals to earn graduate degrees in education, making them today’s tenured professors. These revolutionaries ultimately eschewed politics for education. Given their extreme ideas, Americans would never dare elect them, but young people had no choice but to take them seriously in the classroom.
Consider the case of none other than Bill Ayers. In the 1980s, John Dewey’s celebrated home was there to roll out the red carpet for the communist radical and domestic bomber. Ayers had spent the previous decade fleeing the FBI as a fugitive. He wrote some of the most violent, insane screeds ever published in the United States. And after all that, Columbia Teachers College offered him admission. Ayers deemed it a good fit; the college agreed. He earned his doctorate there.
Ayers became a tenured professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, authoring (among other works) books on teaching “social justice,” published by — you guessed it — Columbia Teachers College. Ayers followed the pattern of countless former SDS and Weather Underground fanatics, including his bride, Bernardine Dohrn. They went into education.
There’s much more that could be said about John Dewey and his influence, including the completely neglected fact that the man was adored by the Soviets. During the height of the Russian Civil War, the embattled Bolsheviks wasted no time translating Dewey’s works into Russian. In 1921, the Soviet government published a 62-page pamphlet excerpted from Democracy and Education. This classic of American public education was a Bolshevik phenomenon.
That thought deserves pause: Democracy and Education stands as John Dewey’s most significant work; it remains the most common choice of schools of education. It became the bible of Columbia Teachers College. It has long served as the guidepost of education departments. It was the book where Dewey himself attempted to summarize his “entire philosophical position.” Liberals and progressives swear by the book. And it was a Bolshevik favorite.
The admiration was mutual, as Dewey reciprocated. He made a pilgrimage to the Soviet Motherland in the summer of 1928. A totally duped Dewey returned and filed a six-part series for The New Republic, raving about the “experimentation, the “progress,” and the “Great Experiment” he encountered in the land of Lenin and Stalin.
This is just the tip of the iceberg — as cold as Siberia? — on how Dewey’s ideas were embraced by the Soviet totalitarian education system. I could say much more.
Of course, needless to say, none of this history is taught by Dewey’s disciples today. These are inconvenient facts, not worthy of educational progressives’ time. They have time for other things right now. Witness Madison and Maryland.
To that end, such things regarding Dewey are not being mentioned — but are certainly present — at the rallies from Madison to Maryland and beyond, where Dewey’s disciples are in their natural element. That’s too bad. It’s not Scott Walker that’s the true face of these rallies, not Hitler or any other demon conjured up by our educational “progressives.” The poster child for these protests is the late professor from Columbia University. Dr. Dewey’s notions continue to thrive.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online