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John Dewey's Conundrum: Can Democratic Schools Empower?


by Aaron Schutz — 2001

Developed at the end of the 1900s, largely in his short-lived Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, John Dewey's vision of democratic education has remained influential for over a century. Yet, as he grew older Dewey himself increasingly lost faith in the ability of schools, alone, to create a more democratic society. Drawing on data available from the Laboratory School, this paper expands upon Dewey's concerns. Ultimately, I argue that Dewey's educational approach failed to equip students to act effectively in the world as it was (and still is), and, further, that Dewey's model of democracy, while extremely useful, is nonetheless inadequate to serve the varied needs of a diverse and contentious society.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 103 Number 2, 2001, p. 267-302
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10727, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 1:06:55 PM

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About the Author
  • Aaron Schutz
    University of Wisconsin-Milkaukee
    E-mail Author
    Aaron Schutz is assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of "Creating Local 'Public Spaces' in Schools: Insights from Hannah Arendt and Maxine Greene," Curriculum Inquiry 29 (1) (1999); and, with Pamela A. Moss, of "Habermas, Arendt, and the Tension Between Authority and Democracy in Educational Standards: The Case of Teaching Reform," in Philosophy of Education 1999 (Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, 2000).
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