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Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed

The following is from Dewey’s short book My Pedagogic Creed (1897) pages 15-16, my remarks interpolated in brackets.

“I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.

“I believe that education is the regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness;  and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.

“I believe that this conception has due regard for both individualistic and socialistic ideals [as if these two were on a par, as if there were entity society prior to the individual of which it is made].  It is duly individualistic because it recognizes that this right character is not to be formed by merely individual precept, example, or exhortation, but rather by the influence of a certain form of institutional or community life upon the individual ...  [This is being individualistic?]

“I believe that 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 ...”

Thus for Dewey the school is primarily for social engineering, not acquiring knowledge.

The following is from Dewey’s The School and Society (1899, 1907) page 44.  In the text previous, Dewey refers to the school as a small society.

“When the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with the instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guaranty of a larger society which is worthy, lovely, and harmonious.”

That “child of society” reminds me of “it takes a village.”  The ultimate consequence is that the child is not yours, he belongs to the State.  The virtue of “saturating him with the spirit of service” is a theme Dewey repeats many times throughout his educational writings.  The phrase “self-direction” is Dewey’s translation of directed by society.

The following is from page 10.

“The mere absorbing of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness.  There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat.”

These words were the intellectual beginnings of the future dumbing down of America.  Dewey’s ideas create a populace of compliant subjects easily ruled.

See also:
Underground History of American Education
by John Taylor Gatto.
The author had a long and distinguished career as a public school teacher, and became a major critic of public schools.  I can’t agree with his anti-business outlook.