“The Educational Situation as Concerns the Elementary School”: Implications for Our Time

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Abstract

The turn-of-the-century John Dewey was an advocate of a conception of a new education, of experience-based forms of learning that sought to form habits of inquiry and cooperation that would secure a democratic life. His question in “The Educational Situation: As Concerns the Elementary School” was why the then-curriculum was not clearly changing in the new ways—despite the earnest and persistent advocacy of this new, progressive vision of education by educational leaders, the development of new subjects and new ways of learning and teaching, and the near-total acceptance of the desirability and necessity of the “reform,” at least among the “leaders” of teachers. The task Dewey undertook in this essay was to spell out his understanding of this problem, this “situation.” This article draws on my reading of this essay to ask (1) How has our understanding of the problem of curriculum change or “reform” shifted, changed, and/or developed when compared with the understanding Dewey offered a century ago? and (2) What might the conclusions of a reflection on this question mean for our contemporary understanding of curriculum theory and research and of the theory-practice relationship? I assert that Dewey's conclusions around the educational situation of the school still hold in virtually every respect.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-129
JournalJournal of Curriculum and Supervision
Volume17
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

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