Race, culture, and pluralism: The evolution of Dewey’s vision for a democratic curriculum

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In this historical study, the author traces the evolution of Dewey’s vision for a democratic curriculum. Prior to 1916, Dewey was a linear historicist, meaning that he conceptualized culture as moving linearly through three distinct stages—savagery, barbarianism, civilization—that corresponded with stages of child development. Dewey’s suggested and enacted curriculum had students retrace the social occupations of the history of the human race. However, in 1916–1923, Dewey updated his views into a cultural pluralist perspective that viewed cultures as different ways of approaching the world that could not necessarily be placed on a single continuum of human development. While retaining elements of his linear historicism, he nevertheless began emphasizing the necessity of cultural diversity and interaction for a healthy deliberative democracy. Based on his updated views of culture and his travels abroad, Dewey revised his suggested curriculum to include the discussion and critical analysis of current issues and problems in the classroom.

Keywords: John Dewey; culture; curriculum history; deliberation; race

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2011.641588

Affiliations: Department of Secondary and Middle School Education,William Paterson University of New Jersey, 1600 Valley RdWayne,NJ,07043, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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