I recently received in the mail a copy of John Dewey’s Democracy and Education: A Centennial Handbook, which contains a chapter that MSU professor Dr. Jack Smith was generous enough to let me contribute to. This has been a fun process for a number of reasons. First, while this isn’t my first book chapter, it is the first book I’ve written for that I have a physical copy of. As much as I rely on PDFs to do my reading and writing, it’s a lot of fun to own a book that has your name in it. Second, writing about Dewey—and especially about Democracy and Education has been a fun way to step away from the educational technology writing that I usually do and to think more about education broadly, its civic role, and how it fits into a democratic context.
As an example of what I mean by that, here’s a blurb from the chapter that I’m particularly proud of:
In How We Think (LW 8), Dewey argues that as thinking matures, thinkers shift from a dependence on authority to a willingness to question, reconsider, and ultimately accept or reject the propositions accepted as true in the wider society. In Democracy and Education, Dewey focuses on the importance of autonomy—and its relation to thinking—in civic participation … for Dewey, thinking is not only the central organization principle of education; it is also the central capacity that students must exercise in asserting their rights and carrying out their responsibilities as full citizens in a democratic society.
I doubt I’ll have many more opportunities to write about the philosophy of education during my career (not least because I’d need/like to be much better read in that area), but I’m very grateful I got the chance to do so here.