A more practical pedagogical ideal: Searching for a criterion of Deweyan growth

Educational Theory 61 (3):351-364 (2011)
Abstract
When Dewey scholars and educational theorists appeal to the value of educative growth, what exactly do they mean? Is an individual's growth contingent on receiving a formal education? Is growth too abstract a goal for educators to pursue? Richard Rorty contended that the request for a “criterion of growth” is a mistake made by John Dewey's “conservative critics,” for it unnecessarily restricts the future “down to the size of the present.” Nonetheless, educational practitioners inspired by Dewey's educational writings may ask Dewey scholars and educational theorists, “How do I facilitate growth in my classroom?” Here Shane Ralston asserts, in spite of Rorty's argument, that searching for a more concrete standard of Deweyan growth is perfectly legitimate. In this essay, Ralston reviews four recent books on Dewey's educational philosophy—Naoko Saito's The Gleam of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson, Stephen Fishman and Lucille McCarthy's John Dewey and the Philosophy and Practice of Hope, and James Scott Johnston's Inquiry and Education: John Dewey and the Quest for Democracy and Deweyan Inquiry: From Educational Theory to Practice—and through his analysis identifies some possible ways for Dewey-inspired educators to make growth a more practical pedagogical ideal
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Shane Ralston (2009). Deweyan Democracy and Pluralism. Social Philosophy Today 25:223-240.
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