Dewey's Materialist Philosophy of Education: A Resource for Critical Pedagogues?

The European Legacy 11 (3):259-288 (2006)

Fred Harris
University of Manitoba
This article looks at some similarities and differences between key elements of Karl Marx's critique of capital and John Dewey's philosophy of education, both substantively and methodologically. Substantively, their analyses of the relation between human beings and the natural world—what Marx calls concrete labour and Dewey generally calls action—converge. Similarly, methodologically they converge when looked at from the point of view of their analysis of the relation between earlier and later forms of life. In Marx's case, it is his comparison of the relation between capitalist society and earlier societies. In Dewey's case, it is his comparison of the relation between adult experience and childhood experience. Dewey's practical realization of his distinction of adult and childhood experience in the creation of a materialist curriculum embodied in the Dewey laboratory school in Chicago also accords in many ways with Marx's theory of concrete labour. On the other hand, their analyses diverge substantively when viewed from the point of view of their critique of capitalist society; Marx united concrete labour with his concept of abstract labour to provide a basis for criticizing modern society on its own terms rather than in terms of Dewey's concept of a cultural lag. The divergence is explained by their divergent methodologies in analyzing modern capitalist society. Despite this difference, the article concludes that critical pedagogues would do well to incorporate Dewey's materialist curriculum into their own practices—with modifications.
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DOI 10.1080/10848770600668266
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–Ίδ–. [REVIEW]Elizabeth Tucker - 1977 - The Classical Review 27 (2):205-206.

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