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Second Face or Mask? A Response to Prawat's "The Two Faces of Pragmatism"

by Michael Glassman - July 20, 2003

This paper responds to Richard Prawat’s article The Two Faces of Pragmatism (2003). Prawat makes the argument that Dewey’s thinking took a philosophical turn mid-career when he came under the strong influence of Charles Peirce. This new influence led Dewey to a reformulation of his educational ideas that moved his theory from child directed and towards teacher directed education, and increased the importance of “big ideas.” In this response I argue that Dewey’s educational theory was never child directed, nor teacher directed, but proposed an alternative approach based on objective experimentation within a defined scientific community. Dewey never swayed very far from this position through his intellectual career. Moreover, Dewey would probably not have reformulated his educational positions in the way that Prawatt suggests because such a reformulation would have been at odds with his ideas on participatory democracy, which commanded a great deal of his attention and energy at the time. In particular I concentrate on Dewey’s battles with the democratic realists, arguing that the type of changes in educational perspective that Prawat suggests would have played right into the hands of those with whom he was debating most vociferously.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 20, 2003
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11177, Date Accessed: 9/26/2020 2:36:07 PM

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About the Author
  • Michael Glassman
    The Ohio State University
    E-mail Author
    MICHAEL GLASSMAN is currently Associate Professor of Human Development at the Ohio State University. He is interested in the intersection of development and education, as well as the role of democracy in the classroom. His recent publications include "Dewey and Vygotsky: Society, experience and inquiry in educational practice," in Educational Researcher, 30, 3-14.
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