The Art and Science of How People Learn - Revised Edition
Edited By Greg S. Goodman
9. Dewey’s Dynamic Integration of Vygotsky and Piaget
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Dewey’s Dynamic Integration of Vygotsky and Piaget
Susan Jean Mayer
Contrary to the assumptions of those who pair Dewey and Piaget based on progressivism’s recent history, Dewey shared broader concerns with Vygotsky (whose work he never read). Both Dewey and Vygotsky emphasized the role of cultural forms and meanings in perpetuating higher forms of human thought, whereas Piaget focused on the role played by logical and mathematical reasoning. On the other hand, with Piaget, Dewey emphasized the nurture of independent reasoning central to the liberal Protestant heritage the two men shared. Indeed, Dewey’s broad theorizing of democracy’s implications for schooling can be seen to integrate the research emphases of the two psychologists.
It has become a fashion among some to oppose progressive educational theory, associated with the scholarship of Dewey and Piaget, with a concern for the pedagogical perpetuation of cultural forms and understandings, currently emphasized by those working within the Vygotskian tradition. Kieran Egan’s (2002) recent critique of progressivism may provide the boldest iteration of such reasoning, yet related arguments can be found elsewhere (see, e.g., Kozulin, 1998). In other academic quarters, scholars debate what of Dewey might be claimed as support for a sociocultural tradition that proceeds primarily in Vygotsky’s name (See, e.g., Glassman, 2001; 2002; O’Brien, 2002; Prawat, 2002).
These contrasting debates are by no means arcane or irrelevant to languishing issues of school reform. Cogent analysis...
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