The Influence of Dewey Abroad
by I. L. Kandel — 1929
An address on the occasion of the Dewey Seventieth Birthday celebration, October 18, 1929, in the Horace Mann Auditorium, Teachers College. IT IS difficult at a time when education throughout the world is passing through a period of unrest and transition to evaluate all the influences that underlie so widespread a movement.1 Still less is it possible to estimate the influence of an individual. The character and purposes of educational systems from the second half of the nineteenth century to the close of the War were in most countries so definitely based on national aspirations and nationalistic indoctrination as to preclude any extraneous influences that seemed to challenge the claims of the governmental authorities in charge. Administrative centralization with fixed national aims and purposes, with prescribed curricula and courses of study, and with uniform methods was deliberately set against innovations. It is worth noting that the elementary school programs remained virtually unchanged in Prussia from 1872 until the post-War reconstruction and in France from 1887 to 1923. The theorist was free to theorize and dream his educational Utopias; practice followed the dictates of the authorities. Private initiative in education, if not rigorously controlled, was dominated by the indirect imposition of examination requirements and teacher certification, while teacher preparation was strictly controlled by regulations and prescriptions in order to produce a teacher of the desired pattern, the craftsman skilled in carrying the prescriptions into the classroom. It is significant that the first experiments that ushered in the new school movement began under the freer administrative atmosphere of England at Abbotsholme and Bedales and that the influence spread thence to Germany in the Landerziehungsheime and to France in the Ecole des Roches.
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