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Education Theory Reading Network

A platform for discussion centered around issues in education theory - all welcome

Event details

It was agreed at the last meeting to continue with the theme of democracy in education.  The paper selected for the next meeting is John Dewey’s article in 1903 Elementary school teacher journal on Democracy in Education.

Below are the two opening paragraphs and a link to the full paper (12 pages).

Hope you can join us,


Brahm Norwich
Network Convenor


DEMOCRACY IN EDUCATION. John Dewey 1903 Elementary school Teacher

MODERN life means democracy, democracy means freeing intelligence for independent effectiveness-the emancipation of mind as an individual organ to do its own work. We naturally associate democracy, to be sure, with freedom of action, but freedom of action without freed capacity of thought behind it is only chaos. If external authority in action is given up, it must be because internal authority of truth, discovered and known to reason, is substituted.  How does the school stand with reference to this matter? Does the school as an accredited representative exhibit this trait of democracy as a spiritual force? Does it lead and direct the movement? Does it lag behind and work at cross-purpose? I find the fundamental need of the school today dependent upon its limited recognition of the principle of freedom of intelligence.  

This limitation appears to me to affect both of the elements of school life: teacher and pupil. As to both, the school has lagged behind the general contemporary social movement; and much that is unsatisfactory, much of conflict and of defect, comes from the discrepancy between the relatively undemocratic organization of the school, as it affects the mind of both teacher and pupil, and the growth and extension of the democratic principle in life beyond school doors.





Dewey_Democracy_in_Education.pdf (307K)