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The Two Faces of Deweyan Pragmatism: Inductionism Versus Social Constructivism

by Richard S. Prawat - 2000

Dewey is widely acknowledged as the intellectual force behind the progressive movement in the U.S. With justification, he is viewed as a stanch advocate of what has been variously termed an actively-based, problem-centered, "hands on" approach to education. Recently, however, some scholars have pointed out that there is a discipline-centered, social constructivist side to Dewey--both as an educator and a philosopher. This paper deals with this divergence of views, building a case for the fact that Dewey underwent a major shift in thinking at mid-career. Around 1915, I demonstrate, Dewey finally and firmly rejected James's extreme subjectivism in favor of Peirce's brand of pragmatism, which Dewey recognized, integrates the biological and sociological aspects of knowledge and mind in a way that is unique and powerful. The educational implications of Dewey's Peircean shift are discussed.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 4, 2000, p. 805-840
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10499, Date Accessed: 9/29/2020 5:38:20 PM

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About the Author
  • Richard Prawat
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    Richard S. Prawat is a professor of educational psychology and teacher education and chair of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education at Michigan State University. He is co-author, with Penelope Peterson, of “Social Constructivist Views of Learning,” in the Handbook of Research on Educational Administration, edited by Joseph Murphy and Karen Seashore Louis (Jossey-Bass, 1999).
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