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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.

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Part One: The 1960s

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Part One The 1960s One Jerome S. Bruner, The Process of Education (1960) Timothy Glander Jerome Bruner’s classic 1960 text, The Process of Education, pivots on the now well-known apho- rism: “…any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development .”1 Simple, elegant, profound: as a hypothesis it would remain largely untestable empirically . (Just what, exactly, would intellectual honesty mean here?) Nevertheless, as commonsense understanding, or perhaps as wishful thinking, the axiom resonated with readers in the early 1960s who felt the full brunt of the social alienation and intellectual fragmentation of the age and longed to find some structural coherence and unity between the learner and the world . An early reviewer gushed about Bruner’s book: “There are some rare and wondrous occasions in reading when one has a tremendous sense of the presence of power, the feeling that there is some very special significance in the pages . The book that calls forth such a response is not always a great or near perfect work, but in it something has been said in such a way that for you, some views of the world will never quite be the same .”2 Even the always critical, and usually prescient, Paul Goodman could not subdue his enthusiasm for the book: “In my opinion it will be a classic, comparable for its philosophical centrality and humane concreteness to some of the essays of Dewey .”3 Goodman went on to identify that Bruner’s main...

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