Democratic education: A Deweyan reminder

Education and Culture 22 (2):43-60 (2006)
Abstract
: Educational historians, philosophers, and sociologists have long warned that the increasing encroachment of business logic in public schools bodes ill for democracy as a way of life. Many have concluded that the business person's interest in affecting public education is to bring about a greater bottom line, which, of course, is profit, albeit secured in the name of democratic freedom and social progress. These scholars have noted that the corporate parasite is eating away the insides of our public schools and is reproducing its hereditary material (consumer materialism) within the bodies and souls of its captive hosts: our children. Through corporate advertisements on school walls, corporate-sponsored curriculum materials and programs, and corporate-sponsored fundraisers and contests (not to mention the enormous political influence corporations have in framing the very aim and purpose of public education), corporations use schools as conduits by which to establish consumption as the ultimate expression of participatory democracy and, thus, as the supreme good and standard of personal growth. Drawing upon the work of John Dewey, this paper articulates a conception of democracy and a democratic theory of education that privileges the social over the private, the public over the corporate, such that the homo-economicus ideal that our public schools train our children to aspire to on a daily basis is checked by a wider commitment to the good life, defined in more socially benevolent ways
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