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John Dewey and the Decline of American Education: How the Patron Saint of Schools Has Corrupted Teaching and Learning [Paperback]

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Item description for John Dewey and the Decline of American Education: How the Patron Saint of Schools Has Corrupted Teaching and Learning by III Henry T. Edmondson...

The influence of John Dewey's undeniably pervasive ideas on the course of American education during the last half-century has been celebrated in some quarters and decried in others. But Dewey's writings themselves have not often been analyzed in a sustained way. In John Dewey and the Decline of American Education, Hank Edmondson takes up that task. He begins with an account of the startling authority with which Dewey's fundamental principles have been-and continue to be-received within the U.S. educational establishment. Edmondson then shows how revolutionary these principles are in light of the classical and Christian traditions. Finally, he persuasively demonstrates that Dewey has had an insidious effect on American democracy through the baneful impact his core ideas have had in our nation's classrooms. Few people are pleased with the performance of our public schools. Eschewing polemic in favor of understanding, Edmondson's study of the "patron saint" of those schools sheds much-needed light on both the ideas that bear much responsibility for their decline and the alternative principles that could spur their recovery. "What They're Saying..."

"Edmondson's critique of Dewey is useful, clear, and brief. He rightly sees Rousseau's primitivism as a major influence, and he rightly distinguishes Dewey from Jefferson, whose reputation and lineage Dewey was eager to claim as his own."
--M.D. Aeschliman, ""The National Review""

"A distinguished Southern scholar who has written widely on ethics and literature, including on Flannery O'Connor and J.R.R. Tolkien, Edmondson has bravely trekked through the desert wastes of forty volumes of what must be the most muddled prose to ever attain to such demonic power over a culture. Keeping his bearings by the polestars of Plato, Aristotle, Newman, Chesterton, and others who understand genuine education as Edmondson tracks the beast of educationism to its ultimate lair, where lie the scattered bones of countless students devoured by relativism and nihilism."
--"New Oxford Review"

"Edmondson excels in demonstrating that the problem with public education in this country is not just a matter of bad policy (although there is certainly plenty of that going on); it goes much deeper. It is a matter of faulty philosophy...Edmondson lays out many more detailed suggestions, making this book not only informative but also a very capable handbook for moving educational reform in the right direction."

"John Dewey believed that education was the key to social change. Yet as Henry T. Edmondson effectively shows in his new book, Dewey could not defy the inherent contradiction of his own philosophy, which has left an indelible mark on American education."
--"Claremont Review of Books"

"While all of his suggestions are meritorious, Edmondson's greatest contribution toward school reform is his overall conclusion....One hopes that Edmondson's book, dedicated to teachers, will spark the long road to renewal."

"Today, of course, public education has come under severe criticism and no book that I've read better explains the root cause of our national educational dilemma then Henry Edmondson's "John Dewey and the Decline of American Education."
--Bob Cheeks, ""

"Edmondson doesn't draw the conclusion, but one puts this book down with the conviction that unless control of primary and secondary education is wrested from the U.S. educational establishment, corrective measures are not likely to occur."
--Jude P. Dougherty, "The Catholic University of America"

"If the title of Henry T. Edmondson's book leaves any room for doubt as to his views on John Dewey and his] educational theories, the book's subtitle should make clear Edmondson's belief: Dewey's lasting influence on the U.S. education system has wrought nothing but diminishing returns, if not all-out catastrophic results."
--Bruce Edward Walker"Michigan Education Report"

..".a bold indictment of one of the fathers of modern educational thought and practise...Edmondson's critique of Dewey is in the vein of conservative scholars such as Allan Bloom and Diane Ravitch, who have voiced similar concerns regarding the loss of tradition in education. It is clear that Edmondson also believes that education can regain prominence only by abandoning Deweyan progressivism and embracing traditional Western values."
--"Perdue University Press," Education and Culture

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Item Specifications...

Pages   133
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 2006
Publisher   Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN  193223652X  
ISBN13  9781932236521  

Availability  0 units.

More About III Henry T. Edmondson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Henry T. Edmondson III is Professor of Public Administration and Political Science at the Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Besides Dewey, he has written a number of articles and books on Jefferson, Shakespeare, and Flannery O'Connor, including the recently published Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O'Connor's Response to Nihilism.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > World > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Education Theory > Philosophy & Social Aspects
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Policy

Reviews - What do customers think about John Dewey & Decline Of American Education: How Patron Saint Of Schools Has Corrupted Teaching & Learning?

Persuasive, but misleading  May 21, 2008
I was teaching first-grade in Brooklyn when I read this book, and found a lot of Edmondson's arguments persuasive, given my classroom experience. Deweyan pedagogy is challenging, if not in some ways damaging, to implement even in the smallest ways in an actual classroom. That said, Edmondson's book isn't really about Dewey or his thought. It's a political work, which repeats a number of points made by educational traditionalists, but doesn't really represent Dewey's thought accurately, or engage with him critically in a serious way. Edmondson takes the portrait of Dewey presented by Russell Kirk in "The Conservative Mind" and imputes it to Dewey. Again, let me stress, I often agreed with Edmondson's assessment of American education, but his book is NOT an accurate or effective account of Dewey's thought and what's wrong with it. John Patrick Diggins' "The Promise of Pragmatism" remains the best account of Dewey's flaws, though it is primarily political, rather than pedagogical.
Unravels many threads in a profound mystery  May 6, 2008
In 51 years of observing and experiencing the public education system in America I formed three broad impressions. The first was that educators must have a fondness for experimentation, since they always seemed to be reinventing the wheel. The second, was that all this reinventing was disturbing considering that those same educators didn't even seem to have a firm grasp on what outcome they desired. The third impression I had was that all the experimentation must be good for educators in the sense that it probably gives them ample excuse to go on taxpayer funded junkets to symposiums in swank places like San Franciso; all in the name of discovering the next best "method" of educating children. This book has made it clear why I developed those impressions over the years. The author of all the chaos in the schools is a man who wrote 130 books/papers on educational theory but could not manage or get results in the one actual classroom he taught in - namely John Dewy. Only a liberal could follow such a blind guide. Dewey might be likened to a Jimmy Carter of Education.

This book is not as in-depth as one might like, but the author points out in the preface that oceans of ink have already been spilled over Dewey and his theories. This book seeks to cut through those oceans and offer a brief and devastating critique of the reckless experimenter named Dewey. Dewey serves as type of person who thinks he knows better than parents how to raise and educate children, and who flippantly would use children as pawns in an end-game of social engineering. Sort of sounds like Marxism doesn't it?
What on Earth?   Mar 6, 2007
You are welcome to do your own research on John Dewey, but he has hardly corrupted America's schools -- in fact, we've hardly adopted his theories at all. If we had, we would no longer have SATs, LSATs, MCATs, or GPAs for that matter. We certainly wouldn't have the No Child Left Behind Act. This book is about school prayer, not John Dewey.

From Wikipedia: "Dewey's ideas, while quite popular, were never broadly and deeply integrated into the practices of American public schools, though some of his values and terms were widespread. Progressive education (both as espoused by Dewey, and in the more popular and inept forms of which Dewey was critical) was essentially scrapped during the Cold War, when the dominant concern in education was creating and sustaining a scientific and technological elite for military purposes. In the post-Cold War period, however, progressive education has reemerged in many school reform and education theory circles as a thriving field of inquiry. Dewey is often cited as creating the foundations for outcomes-based education and Standards-based education reform, and standards such as the NCTM mathematics standards, all of which emphasize critical thinking over memorization of facts."
A "fair and balanced" attack on Dewey?  Feb 11, 2007
To be in education is to be, at some level, a political activist. After all, education is the water that feeds the tree of a democratic republic, and those who would educate are preparing the youth for citizenship in said society. Edmondson decries the state and direction of our society and this book is his activist response. While the focus of his scapegoating is John Dewey, the book is much less about Dewey's legacy and his work (which is superficially represented in the book - and naturally so; after all, who could possibly summarize in less than 130 pages the oevre of a man who published over 35 books and scores of articles over the course of his career?) than it is about the tragedy of a judicial interpretation of one of the cornerstones of our founding Constitutional principals: separation of church and state.

The book is interestingly researched and is a unique and lively discussion of Dewey. About half way through the text, though, it becomes clear that the object is not to protest the influence of an educational philosophy but to use the cover of education scholarship to engage in the debate about school prayer. In his discussion of the function of education as an apparatus for moralizing he points towards Dewey and Dewey's ambivalence for religious indoctrination as the root cause for this deficiency in 21st century American classrooms. It seems Dewey, in other words, is directly responsible for having prayer taken out of schools - an extreme claim to be sure.

If partisan scholarship isn't problematic for you, the book ofers some interesting insights into the educational philosophies of our contry's early political leaders. The book offers an interesting spin on the effects of our eduational system - spin that fails to address issues of race and, especially, class in exchange for cliched urgings for a return to a nostalgic educational past.
Most Succinctly  May 3, 2006
Most of my thirty four years of teaching the physical sciences and math were enjoyable despite being beclouded by the frustrating confusion of the pernicious decline of educational statistics. Our most earnest efforts in "inovative" programs, better book and innumerable caimpaigns for bigger budgets and better schools notwithstanding, the stats continued their depressing downslides. Why??? Professor Edmondson answers that critical one word question most succinctly in the 123 pages of "John Dewey and the Decline of American Education. It is a compelling read for everyone.
Steve Masone, veteran educator and author of Hammer of Chalk

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