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Democracy and Education

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,878 ratings  ·  98 reviews
In this book, written in 1916, Dewey tries to criticize and expand on the educational philosophies of Rousseau and Plato. Dewey's ideas were seldom adopted in America's public schools, although a number of his prescriptions have been continually advocated by those who have had to teach in them. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 1st 1997 by Free Press (first published 1916)
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Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, education

If we were to pretend for a moment that we wanted to live in a democracy – that is, a democracy in deed rather than merely in word – what actually would that mean? The word, of course, has become so abused as to effectively mean nothing. Is there a nation on earth now that doesn’t call itself a democracy? There was a joke once that the easiest way to tell if a country was a democracy or not was to see if it had 'democracy' in its name and if it did that was a s
Dave Schaafsma
I have read and taught this book several times. I first read it in 1974 (! True! I know! I look so youthful for my age!) when I was myself preparing to become an English teacher. It was work I read in a Philosophy of Education class, where Dewey's progressivism/experimentalism was opposed to essentialism (a more conservative approach to the classroom). And here we still see Dewey read by millions of future teachers to help them envision a classroom connected to student experience, to local commu ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators
A philosophical text on the relationship between democracy and education written at the turn of the last century. Dewey discusses the role of industrialization in forming our educational system, and how this cannot hold up in a democracy. We cannot build cogs for a machine if we want a real democracy, he argues, we must have thinking participants.

Also, what he says applies even more today as tech moves so fast it is impossible to train children for it. What we need to teach, he agues is thinkin
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 02, 2016 marked it as i-want-money
Shelves: philosophy
"In praise of Dewey: He knew how to protect democracy – not by rote and rules but by growing independent-minded kids. Let us not forget it" by Nicholas Tampio ::

Let's not forget what it is that makes America great. Or how to.
Aaron Crofut
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Dewey has a great deal of practical advise for educators who wish to form functioning adults capable of enjoying their lives. As a history teacher, I particularly like his comments on the necessity of teaching material with actual purpose to the students now rather than trying to convince them this stuff will be important later down the road. Let them learn the stuff that's important later, well, later. Use their interests natural to their age to push education forward rather than trying to damp ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the most accessible of Dewey's books I have so far had the chance to read. His ideas are usually fascinating, but his writing style extremely boring. For example, Experience and Nature is filled with brilliant ideas, and I consider it a very important book in my personal hierarchy, but I managed to fall asleep reading it... more than once. Democracy and Education is significantly different in this respect. Highly recommended for those who want to start studying Dewey. ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Every educator in primary and secondary education should read this. Dewey was clearly ahead of his time. If education would implement more of his notions of educating for the whole person and connecting learning to life all students would likely be better prepared for navigating the world's complexities and solving complicated social problems. ...more
Jackson Cyril
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
In his "Autobiography", Mill notes that his father recognized that the purpose of a good education was not to simply stuff the mind with facts, but to teach the mind to reason, to inquire and to question. This, it seems to me, is Dewey's ultimate point also: the point of a good education should be to create minds prepared to engage critically with the world. It hardly needs to be noted that our current system of system fails in this regard; but a critic of Dewey may, with justice, note that sinc ...more
Christine Cordula Dantas
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it

This book, written in 1916, is rich, insightful, and yet completely alive today. It is not only a book on pedagody, but also on philosophy and social science. Well written, objective, offering the fundamentals of the construction and maintanance of a democratic society based of the free sharing of knowledge (as a continuous process) and thought. Not only educators and parents are strongly recommended for reading, but in fact everyone.
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
about MUCH more than democracy and education. still incredibly relevant and insightful, despite having been written in the early 20th century. arguably dewey's best and most sweeping work. one of the most satisfying reads i've had, fiction and nonfiction. seriously, seriously good. seriously.

dewey would be at my dream dinner party, no doubt.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it
The summaries at the end were pretty helpful, as I thought the text somewhat dense and meandering. Great ideas overall, though.
sam howie
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I went through my entire teaching degree and beyond knowing, hearing and constantly seeing this book come up in reference lists, and finally I found the time to experience it for myself. Written over 100 years ago, this book continues to be so relevant and important as a guide to thinking holistically, understanding the need for the teacher to be a listener and not just a voice. Science is huge for Dewey, and it is through the lens of science that he believes a critical approach to education can ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Early in my presidential career, a colleague intent on giving me a finer appreciation of higher education recommended I read some of John Dewey's works. I dutifully purchased a couple his books. They sat on my dresser, unread, reproaching me, until this weekend, when I picked up "Democracy and Education." Written in 1916, Dewey's thesis speaks to the issues of career and liberal education.

There is a tension between the wish to prepare students for careers and educating them in the liberal arts.
Pat Malone
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kamiya Kumar
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recognizing the challenges that existed in larger society with regards to capricious activities outlined by the economic / industrial need and the duality of concepts such as subject matter and method, work and play, thinking and experience, individual and the world to name a few, Dewey philosophized the reconstruction of education. Having published this book in 1916, it’s interesting to understand the socio-economic context in which he was writing. Almost a century after the industrial revoluti ...more
David Goldman
Democracy and Education
John Dewey

This seminal work deserves to be read today. It has a lot to say about educational battles we’re still fighting but also how a vibrant humanistic education system is necessary for a thriving democracy. In fact, you work backwards from Deweys’ theories. Suppose you had a thriving democracy and wanted to destroy it. Attached the type of education of Dewey desires would be a good place to start.

Broader purposes of education:
Once societies get to a certain si
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I first read this book for a graduate course on Pragmatism. While we used two other of Dewey's books for texts, the Logic and Experience and Nature, I chose this one to read for my oral presentation. I chose this because I was sure that I could certainly poke holes in the great man's views on something as apparently subjective as education. AS it turned out, I was once again wrong.
Dewey expounds on a theory of society and education which explores the possibility of searching after the perfect me
Erik Akre
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who considers education thoughtfully and seriously (at least sometimes)
Shelves: america, education
This is a great way to get to know John Dewey as an educational philosopher. What is school? What is education? What is democracy? For that matter, what is Life?

School: A formal educational situation; an intentional environment that simplifies and purifies cultural transmission and creates a broad context in which diverse groups have equal opportunity to "receive" transmission. Public school is a place where people from differing communities can look at and experience a common ground.

Luis Francisco Contreras
I really wanted to like this book. I have long been a fan of educational progressivism and have encountered Dewey's ideas before. However, actually reading him was physically painful. Dewey is one of those university lecturers that believes that the relevance of his content somehow sanctions his monotonous and verbose delivery. Form *is* important, Mr. Dewey. Your ideas might have been revolutionary, but your writing style was mediocre. ...more
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. In this classic, John Dewey lays out the principles of the philosophy behind education and its importance and impact on society. He does it so clearly and concisely that I am surprised this wasn't ever required reading for me in any college course I had ever taken. This book should be required reading for every human. Dewey's other classic, Art as Experience, is on my short list of what I need to read next. ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Absolutely worth reading! This book greatly broadened by conception of a "democratic society", the purpose and value of education, and the purpose and of knowledge and learning. It also increased my sense of value of myself and of other people--all other people.

While this text is an exploration of the role and function of education in a democratic society, it is also an illumination of what conditions comprise a "democratic society" and why this has value. Dewey demonstrates that with these con
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
TO begin with, I am unashamedly a fan of Dewey's work. This book covers so much ground that I was a bit stunned at how far-reaching it was. Being that it is just over 100 years old at the time of this review, I can say that it was likely waaaaaaay ahead of it's time. The notion that education is an unfolding process that must incorporate the whole person, mind and body, is very different. in fat, even by contemporary standards Dewey's ideas are not the norm. There were some wrinkles. The book at ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, education
I'll be honest - this book was hard to read. I found myself reading it as if I was in a lecture, sitting and taking notes along with it so that I can pay attention and understand what he was saying. I also had to find online summaries of Dewey's beliefs to figure out what he was really meaning to say. However, I still find that I enjoy a lot of Dewey's philosophies. Dewey was brave to put out such strange ideas and it is wonderful how it is changing society. However, some people do take Dewey's ...more
Amy Hansen
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was rough. First of all, this book could have been half the length. Concise clarity was not one of Dewey’s gifts.

There were some things in this book I agreed with, but many more things in the overarching principles presented I either disagreed with or just though was forced and wrong. He explanation of why we shouldn’t treat education as working toward a absolute end (or final cause) is one example of the “forced and wrong” variety. His chapter on morals was also pretty weird (and forced a
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
While this is not an easy book to get through (understatement of the year), Dewey is at his most brilliant here. He integrates so much of all types of knowledge to weave his argument. It is interesting how timely this book is given that it is written about a century ago. So many of the arguments are the same ones we are having today, although the terminology has changed slightly. I just wish he could have written in a more accessible style. If you want to use Dewey for education students, I woul ...more
Mike Krolak
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Greatest book on education ever written. Written before education got politicized by stakeholders who thought they knew better than Dewey. A MUST read for all educators, parents, politicians and bureaucrats who care about education and want to make it better. To parphrase " The best ideas are sometimes the oldest ideas" ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book itself was quite factual and informative to what I was generally looking for. Even though it is not something that I would read for leisure, it is great for finding information that I would need for my essays and presentations.
Ed Barton
Tough Read

There’s some real treasures in here, and a lot of tough reading. Covering a lot of ground on the philosophy of education, this wasn’t the most entertaining or interesting read.
I respect Dewey's ideas and his contributions to the philosophy of education, but this book was painful to read. I made it to 51%, read only the summaries of the rest of the chapters, and called it quits. ...more
Kevin Fulton
Reading this book is like mining. You need to work your way through a lot of stuff before you strike gold. But when you strike it, it's exciting. Then, you keep mining and until you strike a another vein.
This book takes work, and it is worth it.
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John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey, along with Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, is recognized as one of the founders of the philosophy of pragmatism and of functional psychology. He was a major representative of the progressive and progressive populist philosophies of schooli ...more

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