Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

What They Don’t Tell You….

Posted in Books,Change is Bad,Putting One Foot in Front of the Other by bourdaghs on the July 9th, 2010

I’m now reading a book I’ve been curious about for more than a decade, Cornel West’s The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism. I’m up to the chapter on John Dewey now and was interested to learn the history of the University of Chicago Lab School, where my son graduated from high school last year and where my daughter still goes today. We’re justly proud of the school, and we love to point out that it was founded by the great educational philosopher Dewey as part of his mission to transform philosophy into a form of radical democratic practice.

From West’s fine book, I also learned the part of the story that usually gets left out when it gets related here in Hyde Park:

    Unfortunately, Dewey himself failed to articulate a plan for social reform to which his progressive schools could specifically contribute. He was aware that schools by themselves could not bear the weight of a full-fledged reform of society; yet he also knew that the schools themselves were ideologically contested terrain, always worth fighting for and over. And in 1904 Dewey’s school came to an end after a series of mergers and the subtle dismissal of Dewey’s wife from its principalship by University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper. Dewey immediately resigned from the university. Luckily, Columbia University moved quickly and financed a new chair in philosophy for him. And the luck was American pragmatism’s too, for it was in New York City, and maybe it had to be there, that Dewey emerged as a world-historical figure. (p. 85)
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