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Pragmatism and Educational Research


reviewed by Martin Bickman — 2004

coverTitle: Pragmatism and Educational Research
Author(s): Gert J.J. Biesta and Nicholas C. Burbules
Publisher: ABLEX Publishing Company, Westport, CT
ISBN: 0847694771, Pages: 128, Year: 2003
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This book is the second in Rowan & Littlefield’s series “Philosophy, Theory, and Educational Research.”  But I fear the authors have taken the series title in too literal and restrictive a sense.  This volume is a wonderfully concise and lucid exposition of the pragmatic theory of learning and knowing, but as such it is an uncomfortable paradox.  For it presents a theory whose very essence is that theory without practice, generalization divorced from concrete instances, is sterile and one-dimensional, the sound of one hand yapping.  “Pragmatic theory,” then, is an oxymoron, something that cannot really exist by itself, and any book that tries to present it as such is necessarily partial and incomplete. The authors make clear that by “Pragmatism” they really mean the thought of John Dewey, although the introductory chapter contains some remarks on the entire movement and its contexts.  This focus is understandable since Dewey was more extensively and intensively involved in education than William James and Charles Sanders Pierce.  But this book slights much of... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 8, 2004, p. 1628-1630
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11310, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 2:34:37 AM

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About the Author
  • Martin Bickman
    University of Colorado
    E-mail Author
    MARTIN BICKMAN is Professor of English, President's Teaching Scholar, and Director of Service Learning at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His most recent book, Minding American Education: Reclaiming the Tradition of Active Learning (Teachers College Press, 2003), won Outstanding Book Award from the Curriculum Division of the American Education Research Association.
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