Conservative Education: Caveat Emptor!

Much of the blame for the deplorable state of higher education in America today must be traced back to the baneful influence of America’s most revolutionary educationist, John Dewey.  In his enormously influential Democracy and Education (1915), Dewey defined education as “a freeing of individual capacity in a progressive growth directed to social aims.”  In this nebulous text, a term such as progressive growth is apt to puzzle the reader at every turn.  Growth toward what end?  The term social is the key.  For Dewey, education was socialization for democratic equality, for the freeing of the capacities of individuals at every level of society to reach their fullest potential, regardless of class, race, and sex.  Consider the following: “A society which makes provision for participation in its good of all its members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life is in so far democratic.”  I would argue that the abysmal abstraction of such a sentence (all too frequent in Dewey’s writing) is prima facie evidence of a diseased mind.  Nevertheless, there is an underlying drift that is evident enough.  The telos of Dewey’s educational theory is, in the last analysis, nothing less than humanity itself.  However individualistic his jargon...

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