Social Reconstructionism and Progressive Education

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ES2307: Progressive Education
Week 4
Progressive Education and Social
Reconstructionism
Tutor: Joan Walton
Around
beginning of 20th century
 John Dewey and other reformers
saw themselves as distinct
movement
 Wished to humanize and
democratise primary and secondary
education
 Greater emphasis on what went on
within the school than on
challenging social structure
1960’s
 Less
coherent movement
 Consisted of number of loosely
connected groups
 Greater emphasis on challenging
dominance of:
Power of the state
 White supremacy
 Dominance of white males in
positions of power
 Elitism in organisations

 Move
towards a more radical approach to
social change.
 Grounded
in a philosophy that emphasizes
the challenging of existing social structures.
 Aim
- to create a better society and a
worldwide democracy.
 Focus
on a curriculum that highlights social
reform as the aim of education.
 Gave
an address - "Dare Progressive
Education Be Progressive?" (Columbia
University 1932)
 Considered Progressive Education in 1920’s
had failed to change educational curriculum
 Argued that the opponents of progressivism
supported laissez-faire economics and
conservative politics that were responsible
for Depression
 The classroom should be a place for social
consciousness raising and political education
 Need to recognise the relationship between
class, education and power.
An early promoter of social
reconstructionism.
Recognized the potential for
either:
 Human annihilation through
technology and human cruelty
or:
 The capacity to create a
benevolent society using
technology and human compassion
A
Brazilian brought up in poverty
 Saw education and literacy as the means of
achieving social change
 Challenged “teaching as banking," - i.e. the
teacher deposits information into students'
heads
 Saw teaching as encouraging a process of
inquiry
 Emphasis on critical reflection
 Need to change the system in order to
overcome oppression and improve the quality
of life for all people
 Professor
of human geography, Sheffield
University.
 Dismisses a wide range of progressive policies
as ineffective.
 Sees the real trend as undermining the
wellbeing of individuals, communities and
the country.
Dorling identifies five sets of beliefs:
 Elitism
 Exclusion
 Prejudice
 Greed
 Despair –
He claims these are replacing Beveridge's five
social evils at the dawn of the welfare state
(ignorance, want, idleness, squalor and
disease)
These have become so entrenched in Britain
and other affluent countries that they maintin
an unjust system that perpetuates extreme
inequality.
"The beliefs are supported by the
media where stories often imply that
some people are less deserving,
where great City businessmen (and a
few businesswomen) are lauded as
superheroes, and where immigrants
looking to work for a crumb of the
City's bonuses are seen as
scroungers.”
"Inequalities in the more unequal affluent
countries are sustained largely because of the
political rhetoric of such countries“
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/apr/2
1/danny-dorling-charles-dickens-social-inequality
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