Democracy and the Education of the Whole Person: Historical Examples of the Trajectory of John Dewey’s Ideas

Dr. Rosa Bruno-Jofre,
Dr. G. L. (Skip) Hills
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This presentation is an exercise in conceptual history. It explores the ways in which Dewey’s ideas having to do with democracy, inquiry, and educating the whole person have been transferred to contexts quite different from those in which they were first propounded. It examines the ways these ideas have been changed as they are transferred from one socio-historical context to another. It also attempts to identify the socio-political influences responsible for these changes.

This investigation is comparative. It focuses on examples drawn from the beginning and end of the twentieth century. The early twentieth century witnessed transformative discourses in education aimed at the reconstruction of society. This presentation analyzes the notions of democracy, citizenship, inquiry, and the educated person, as articulated in the reports of congresses organized by the interdenominational Committee on Cooperation in Latin America.

At present, we are poised on the edge of another transformative moment in education, precipitated revolutions in information technologies coupled with a new economic and political configuration. However, contrary to the beginning of the century, the voices of educational reformers seem fragmented, often obscured by jargon and disconnected from life in schools.

Against this background, we examine recent reforms in Ontario, Canada. Under the aegis of talk of accountability and standards, schools have been exposed to a notion of education that might be best described as “economic positivism lite”. This conception of schooling appears to be informed by ideals that are at odds not only with the ideas of the reformers alluded to above but also with a Deweyian view of teacher education currently taking root in the province. The tensions among these three discourses while palpable, remain largely unexplored.

This paper is a collaborative attempt to develop a conceptual history focussing on how and by what means changes in meaning or understanding occur.

Keywords: Democracy and Education, Citizenship Education, Educational Reform, The Ideal of the Educated Person
Stream: Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Rosa Bruno-Jofre

Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Queen's University, Canada

Rosa Bruno-Jofré, Ph.D. (University of Calgary) is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. In 2004, she was renewed for a second term until June 2010. Her area of expertise is history of education in Canada and beyond. She is founding co-editor of Encounters on Education/Encuentros/Rencontres published jointly by the Faculty of Education at Queen’s and the Department of Theory and History of Education, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She is also serving as book review editor of the Canadian Journal of Higher Education. Her most recent book The Missionary Oblate Sisters: The Spirit of the Congregation and Struggles over Vision and Mission, 1904-1929. McGill/Queen’s Press is forthcoming. She co-edited with N. Aponiuk Educating Citizens for a Pluralistic Society, published by the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association in 2001. She has also published Methodist Education in Perú , 1888-1930 published by Wilfred Laurier University Press in 1988. Her articles appeared in chapters in books, journals such as Historical Studies in Education, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Manitoba History, Canadian Journal of Higher Education, among others.

In 2004, Bruno-Jofré received the Lamp of Learning Award in recognition for contribution to public education in Ontario presented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.

Dr. G. L. (Skip) Hills

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Queen's University, Canada

My scholarly and research interests grow out of my fields of specialization in philosophy of education and psychology. They include the nature and aims of education, history and philosophy of science, and the social studies of science and technology-- especially as they relate to science education. I am also concerned with conceptual change, the nature of inquiry, the interaction between science and culture, the public understanding of science, and the role of language in the teaching and learning of science. Most recently, I have been focusing on economic globalization and the new information technologies and what they mean for the future of schooling and education.

Ref: H06P0170