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Democracy and Education

John Dewey

Book Overview: 

An important, controversial, and often cited work on public education. Dewey discusses the role of public education in a democracy and the different methods for achieving quality in education. After its initial publication, this book began a revolution in educational thinking; one that emphasized growth, experience, and activity as key elements in promoting democratic qualities in students and educators alike.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .It is rather the formation of mind by setting up certain associations or connections of content by means of a subject matter presented from without. Education proceeds by instruction taken in a strictly literal sense, a building into the mind from without. That education is formative of mind is not questioned; it is the conception already propounded. But formation here has a technical meaning dependent upon the idea of something operating from without. Herbart is the best historical representative of this type of theory. He denies absolutely the existence of innate faculties. The mind is simply endowed with the power of producing various qualities in reaction to the various realities which act upon it. These qualitatively different reactions are called presentations (Vorstellungen). Every presentation once called into being persists; it may be driven below the "threshold" of consciousness by new and stronger presentations, produced by the reaction of the soul to new mater. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is the most accessible of Dewey's books I have so far had the chance to read. His ideas are usually fascinating, but his writing style extremely boring. For example, Experience and Nature is filled with brilliant ideas, and I consider it a very important book in my personal hierarchy, but I man

Dewey has a great deal of practical advise for educators who wish to form functioning adults capable of enjoying their lives. As a history teacher, I particularly like his comments on the necessity of teaching material with actual purpose to the students now rather than trying to convince them this

A philosophical text on the relationship between democracy and education written at the turn of the last century. Dewey discusses the role of industrialization in forming our educational system, and how this cannot hold up in a democracy. We cannot build cogs for a machine if we want a real democrac

I have read and taught this book several times. I first read it in 1974 (! True! I know! I look so youthful for my age!) when I was myself preparing to become an English teacher. It was work I read in a Philosophy of Education class, where Dewey's progressivism/experimentalism was opposed to essenti

The summaries at the end were pretty helpful, as I thought the text somewhat dense and meandering. Great ideas overall, though.

about MUCH more than democracy and education. still incredibly relevant and insightful, despite having been written in the early 20th century. arguably dewey's best and most sweeping work. one of the most satisfying reads i've had, fiction and nonfiction. seriously, seriously good. seriously.

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Every educator in primary and secondary education should read this. Dewey was clearly ahead of his time. If education would implement more of his notions of educating for the whole person and connecting learning to life all students would likely be better prepared for navigating the world's complexi

In his "Autobiography", Mill notes that his father recognized that the purpose of a good education was not to simply stuff the mind with facts, but to teach the mind to reason, to inquire and to question. This, it seems to me, is Dewey's ultimate point also: the point of a good education should be t

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