Paper by UW–Madison’s Baldacchino offers new look at reading John Dewey

UW–Madison’s John Baldacchino has authored a paper offering a new look at engaging with the 19th/20th century philosopher and educator, John Dewey. The paper is titled, “Education’s Experience in an Age of Anti-Politics: Reading John Dewey in the Third Decade of the 21st Century,” and it is published in a special edition of the journal Sisyphus focused on “Old Masters, New Meanings.”

John Baldacchino

Baldacchino is a professor of art and education in the School of Education’s Art Department.

The paper is described as follows in the abstract:

Dewey’s argument for education is predicated on how, as free and intelligent beings, we have the power to develop dispositions. However, in a context where democracy is neutered by anti-politics, reading Dewey now comes with an urgent need to revisit his argument for an experiential and experimental approach towards the world. Revisiting Horkheimer’s critique of Dewey, which reveals two opposed notions of instrumentalism, this article argues that unless Dewey is reassessed from the non-identitarian character of his pragmatism, his philosophy of education risks being lost to an alignment with social constructivism. This exposes the Deweyan approach to what Maxine Greene calls a disjunction in the culture between everydayness and reason, where the “integrations” that Dewey achieved with his concentration on experience vanish. Historically framed, this paper draws on Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin’s discussion of a democracy that is more akin to a “burning house” than an associated form of living.

Sisyphus is open source, and the paper is available to download for free on the journal’s website, here.

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