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Dewey's Copernican Revolution

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Wisdom requires thinking, exertion, toil, and attention. It is rarely easy, and those who attempt to make it so end up dumbing down the content of what is to be taught.

Last fall, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article outlining some of the challenges facing public schools in our time. The report included a school official who was quoted as saying that middle schools in the area should no longer be thought of as "cold, instruction-driven places." I was amazed by that particular comment. How could any school official in the business of educating and instructing today's youth possibly characterize instruction as being "cold"? Wouldn't it be like a doctor saying that today's hospitals are no longer "stale medicine-driven places"? But the article continued, "'I look at them and I tell them, you are the center of your universe right now,' said Mary Ann Goldberg, principal of Wydown Middle School....'We are orbiting around you to help you. If you think it's all about you, it is all about you.'"

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1 [ Back ] Valerie Schremp Hahn and Kevin Crowe, "Middle Schools Stand Out," St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1 August 2008).
2 [ Back ] John Dewey, The School and Society (New York: The University of Chicago Press, 1900), 51.
3 [ Back ] Walter Scott, Waverley (London: Penguin Books, 1985), 46-47.
4 [ Back ] John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1905), 144.
5 [ Back ] John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed (New York: E. L. Kellog & Co., 1897), 9.
6 [ Back ] John Dewey, Experience & Education (New York: Touchstone, 1997), 19-20.
7 [ Back ] John Dewey, Democracy & Education (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916), 284.
8 [ Back ] Dewey, Democracy & Education, 284.
9 [ Back ] Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), 377.
10 [ Back ] Hofstadter, 363.
11 [ Back ] J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1925), 15.
12 [ Back ] J. Gresham Machen: Selected Shorter Writings, ed. D. G. Hart (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004), 136.
13 [ Back ] Mortimer J. Adler, Reforming Education (New York: Collier Books, 1977), 233-34.
14 [ Back ] Adler, 233-34.
15 [ Back ] Adler, 235.
16 [ Back ] Maureen Stout, The Feel-Good Curriculum: The Dumbing Down of America's Kids in the Name of Self-Esteem (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2000), 2.
17 [ Back ] Stout, 2.
18 [ Back ] Stout, 36.
19 [ Back ] Stout, 208.
20 [ Back ] George Barna, Marketing the Church (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988), 145.

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Shane Rosenthal is executive producer of The White Horse Inn national radio broadcast which can be heard online at

Issue: "Discipleship: Wisdom for Pilgrims' Progress" Sept./Oct. 2009 Vol. 18 No. 5 Page number(s): 31-35

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