Monday, April 20, 2015

The industrialization of American education.

I have been reading How Dewey Lost: The victory of David Snedden and Social Efficiency in the Reform of American Education by David F. Labaree. It is really the story of how a nut case's vision of schooling came to rule for most of a century, over the more thoughtful and appealing ideals of John Dewey. Dewey won the debate, but the proponents of industrialized efficiency got their way. Those who have been watching the current round of top down schemes to re-shape American education, may see a connection.

David Snedden's ideas were strikingly similar to what Woodrow Wilson proposed when he was president of Princeton University and before he became president of the United States.
We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
Snedden got so carried away with Wilson's vision that he proposed special isolated schools for every conceivable occupation. And so with Wilson's signing of the Smith-Hughes Act in 1918 which granted funding to only certain kinds of manual arts training, it became the purpose of education to engineer and industrialize society along pre-existing class lines. Tied up in this story are the psychology of G. Stanley Hall and the standardized testing movement.

In reading this paper, I have suddenly become concerned for Finland. In their new reform, are they turning away from a successful model of pedagogically progressive education for one that is driven by administration? That appears to be the case.

Thanks Knud for sending this paper my way. It is one that everyone interested in education should read, learn from and feel shocked by.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Looks like an interesting article, I've put it on my to read list. Thanks.