Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us Today (CFP)

John Dewey Society Panel on Dewey and Philosophy:
2017 Topic: Creative Democracy – The Task Before Us Today
Due: November 15, 2016

The John Dewey Society calls for paper proposals for its panel on Dewey and Philosophy (formerly called the Past Presidents’ Panel), to be held at its annual meeting, in conjunction with the American Educational Research Association meeting in San Antonio, Texas on April 27 – May 1, 2016.

What are the challenges to a vibrant and healthy democratic life? In an essay late in life, Creative Democracy – The Task Before Us[1], Dewey calls upon us to not take democratic life for granted. More than a political institution, Dewey sees democracy as dependent upon family, friendship, the economy, and other parts of the fabric of civil society. Today in many countries, institutions of democracy, in particular public schools, are challenged by growing inequality, mistrust of the other, and poverty. It is a time to return to Dewey’s text to consider how democratic life can be fostered amidst these challenges.

The following topics are based on Dewey’s essay and are meant to prompt ideas about suitable papers, and not be prescriptive or exhaustive.

·      The effects of the global economic downturn starting in 2008 on today’s democratic institutions
·      Climate change, environmental destruction, and democracy
·      Creativity and democratic education
·      The meaning of democracy as a personal or individual way of life today
·      Democracy and leadership in education
·      Democracy and education for peace
·      Democracy and the two party system in the Age of Clinton v. Trump

How to Submit

Submit all proposals (prepared per instructions below) for individual papers via email with an attachment as a Word document. All proposals are due by midnight Pacific time November 15, 2016, via email to AG Rud, John Dewey Society president elect, Distinguished Professor, Washington State University, ag.rud@wsu.edu; Any questions - contact AG Rud directly via email.

Proposals accepted for presentation in this panel of the John Dewey Society will be notified by January 15, 2016. Full papers of up to 5000 words (excluding references done in APA style) will be due no later than April 3, 2017 for the discussant to prepare remarks.

Proposal guidelines

Part 1 (submit in the body of your email message with the subject line JDS Proposal)

(1.) Title of your paper and theme your proposal addresses
(2.) Your name, title, institutional affiliation (if any)
(3.) Your address, phone, email
(4.) An abstract of up to 100 words

Part 2 (in an attached Word document with all identifying information removed for anonymous review)

(1.) Title of your paper
(2.) A descriptive summary of your paper (maximum length 1000 words), explaining your paper and its significance, especially in relation to the selected theme. List several references to place your contribution in the broader scholarly conversation.

About The John Dewey Society (http://www.johndeweysociety.org)

Founded in 1935, the purpose of the Society is to foster intelligent inquiry into problems pertaining to the place and function of education in social change, and to share, discuss, and disseminate the results of such inquiry.

[1] Dewey, J. (1939/1988). Creative democracy: The task before us. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), The later works of John Dewey, 1925-1953 (Volume 14: 1939-1941, Essays, pp. 225-231). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

John Dewey Society Sponsors Session at the Eastern Division of the APA

January 2017, Baltimore, MA

Once again this year the John Dewey Society will sponsor a session at the annual meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association.

The meeting will take place in Baltimore MD from Wednesday 4 through Saturday January 7, 2017, at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, 202 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.

The Session Theme:
The 2017 John Dewey Society theme is “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us.” This title is taken from an oft cited Dewey essay from 1939 with this title (LW14: 224-230). See the link here:

Richard Bernstein has written a follow up essay: Bernstein, Richard J. 2000. Creative Democracy—The Task Still Before Us. American Journal of Theology & Philosophy 21, no. 3 (September): 215-228.

The Society is also urging its members to read and reflect on Dewey’s seminal 1935 book Liberalism and Social Action (LW11: 3-66)). Here Dewey, after critically reviewing the history of liberal thought, makes the case for a liberalism-infused democratic socialism.

The connection here to a position advanced in the 2016 primary season is not accidental. One useful step in considering ‘the task before us,’ moreover, would be to review Dewey’s argument in Liberalism and Social Action in the wake of the 2016 political party primaries.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dewey Through Generations Panel Call for Abstracts: "Challenges for Democracy: New Developments and Tendencies"

Call for Abstracts

The John Dewey Society presents
The Third Annual

Dewey Through Generations Panel

Challenges for Democracy: New Developments and Tendencies

In Creative Democracy – The Task Before Us Dewey reminds us that democracy should not be seen as a political machine which once it is set up would perpetuate its existence automatically. On the contrary, the very existence and health of our democracies depend on conditions which go beyond our immediate political institutions and which concern our family relations, our friendships, our economical organization, etc. In a time where our democratic institutions seem to be endangered by increasing structural inequality, globalization, economic crisis and the reemergence of xenophobic attitudes, we should return to the theoretical resources Dewey has to offer on these present challenges for our democracies.

Hence, in the DtG panel 2017 we propose to explore the following questions:
·     How are the latest developments in the democratic life of our societies to be critically assessed? What are the observable tendencies? Are there only reasons to worry or are there reasons also for hope in the recovery and deepening of democracy?
·     What have been the effects of the financial crash of 2008 for our democratic institutions and practices? What can we expect from the reforms brought about by current governments?
·     Are there economic alternatives to capitalism (not only classical, but also in its neoliberal form) which could work as better social foundations for democratic practice?    
·     How do global problems (climate change, wars and conflicts, etc.) affect our democracies? Should we see these global conditions as obstacles, as opportunities, or both?    

The Dewey Through Generations Panel was established in 2015 to highlight and support emerging Dewey inspired scholars and practitioners (including but not limited to graduate students) by bringing them into a dialogue with eminent scholars who reflect the best of Dewey's philosophical practice. One eminent Dewey scholar participates in a dialogue (as commentator/respondent) with the emerging scholar panelists. We are pleased to announce that this year’s Dewey Scholar will be Gregory Pappas (Texas A&M University). For an overview of Dr. Pappas’ scholarship see:

Submissions Due: November 15, 2016 (By 11:59 PM, CST)

Graduate students, student-professionals, and emerging scholars, may submit an abstract for the panel. The panel will include three papers/or projects (limited to 3000 words) and commentary by an invited Dewey scholar (limited to 1500 words).

Submit all abstracts (prepared per instructions below) via email with an attachment as an MSWord document. All proposals should be received on or before November 15, 2016, by Just Serrano at dtg@johndeweysociety.org.

Submission guidelines: Part 1 (submit in the body of your email message): (1) Title of your paper; (2) Your name, title/student status, institutional/professional affiliation (if any); (3) Your address, phone, and email; Part 2 (attaches as a MSWord document prepared for blind review): (1) Title of your paper/project; (2) An abstract and/or descriptive summary of your paper/project, explaining your work and its significance, especially in relation to the selected themes(s). All abstracts should be formatted according to Chicago or APA style, with a maximum length of 800 words excluding the title and references.

Please direct all questions to Just Serrano at justserrano@gmail.com. Abstracts accepted for presentation on this panel of the John Dewey Society will be notified by January 15, 2017. Final papers will be due April 2, 2017.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hope and/or Grit: What is the future of character education?

The John Dewey Society
The Journal of School & Society
A Call for Public Scholarship

 Issue #4: Hope and/or Grit: What is the future of character education?

The John Dewey Society, founded in 1935, created The Journal of School & Society in order to meet one of its central aims: to support a vibrant public education system by fostering intelligent inquiry into problems pertaining to the place and function of education in social change, particularly among teachers, parents, and community activists.

We invite all those interested in engaged public scholarship to contribute to this exciting venue!

 At least since the rise of the Common School movement, American educators have agreed that an important part—if not the essential goal—of a public education entails the development of character.
John Dewey recognized this, writing in the very last passages of Democracy & Education that:

All education which develops power to share effectively in social life is moral. It forms a character which not only does the particular deed socially necessary but one which is interested in that continuous readjustment which is essential to growth. 

He goes on to add that, “Interest in learning from all the contacts of life is the essential moral interest.” [1]  There is perhaps no better rationale for the importance of character education: the ability to learn from all spheres of life the habits that will lead to a more just and beautiful society.

Over the past thirty years, the turn towards test-based accountability regimes and common academic standards eclipsed, to a certain degree, the focus on character. The emerging school marketplace initially led educational leaders to trumpet high test scores as the best guarantor of a quality education. They encouraged parents to vote with their feet—and some did.

But when educational leaders asked the next logical question—how do young children from such schools fair in college and career?—the situation became more complex. All of a sudden, character questions re-emerged, as it became clear that “success”—however we might define it—both requires and rewards perseverance as much as it does smarts.

Enter Paul Tough and the “new character education.” Tough’s writings reminded the public of the role of failure in learning and made a compelling case—at least to some—that schools should devote at least as much time to teaching the “soft skills” of grit, gratitude and zest as they do to academics.

Like a mighty wave, talk about grit suddenly seemed to flood public discussions about education (grit being the character trait that the public has largely come to equate with the new character education). Yet almost as quickly, a strong backlash emerged. Disparate voices, including such prominent educational leaders as Alfie Kohn and Tyrone Howard, asked hard questions:

  • Does a focus on grit and other such character traits “blame the victim”? Does it imply that a boot-strapping mentality is the best and perhaps only way to overcome such social evils as poverty, racism, and ignorance? 

  • Does a focus on grit and other such character traits divorce the learner from what is learned and how it is learned? Is it the learner that needs changing, the curriculum, or the teacher and her methods?

  • Does a focus on grit and other such character traits ignore questions of value? Are all goals equally worthy of persistent and gritty pursuit? What sort of life is worth living? What role should the school play in helping children develop a vision of the good life? 

These are questions for which the new character education has struggled to provide a compelling answer.

In this issue of The Journal of School & Society, we are interested in the broad fate of the new character education. As concerned teachers, parents, and citizens, in what ways has a focus on traits such as grit empowered you and the children you work with? In what ways has it limited or harmed you and the children you work with? In what ways should schools interact with the discourse around the new character education?

We at the journal believe that the new character education will succeed only if it can provide a compelling vision of what a just and compassionate society looks like. That is, it is questions of shared value that must be addressed by our schools and society. To that end, we would like this issue to contrast the grit of the new character education with a reconstructed sense of democratic hope.

For Stephen Fishman and Lucille McCarthy have suggested that it is, indeed, hope that we are really after. As they note:

at the heart of Dewey's theory of hope is what we call his ultimate, democratic hope: his goal of developing a more equitable, this-worldly existence that encourages all people to contribute their unique skills in service to the common-wealth. Alternatively put, Dewey's theory of hope rests upon the idea that this world, despite its precariousness and hazardous quality, is worthy of our piety and adoration rather than our scorn and disappointment. [2] 

In their work, Fishman and McCarthy put forward the idea that the advocates of grit [3] might have much to offer schools and families as they seek to reconstruct a viable character education for our times. That is, if they can overcome their hesitancy to inquire about questions of value and worth; if they can find ways to harmonize motivations for personal enrichment with the collective good; if they can conceptualize integrative rather than additive notions of growth; and if they can come to grips with the role that despair must necessarily play in lives lived in hope.

Hence, we invite contributions on hope as well as grit. As concerned teachers, parents, and citizens, what does hope mean for you and the communities in which you live and work? How is hope best cultivated within, alongside or apart from grit and other character traits?

Hope? Grit? What, then, is the future of character education?

How to Contribute to the Issue

Unlike many academic journals, this publication actively seeks out both its contributors and its readership. Working in the spirit of Dewey, we seek to create the dialogic spaces and public engagement that we believe is sometimes missing from educational debate.

We view our work as broadly educative, in that we want to help connect practitioners in public dialogue. To do so, we work closely with educators and community activists to bring out their voices and stories. We also work closely with academics who wish to contribute their expertise and insight to the conversation.

Invited Pieces

Work from educators and other communities members are welcome. This work may take either standard article form or may be submitted in alternative formats, such as a video interview or presentation. A grounding in scholarship is not necessary, although the author will want to situate their work clearly within the scope of the theme of the issue. Ordinarily, articles in this category will range from 2,000-5,000 words, although both longer and shorter submissions may be appropriate. Authors should expect to work closely with the editorial team to produce their submissions.

Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Articles 

Submissions for the peer-reviewed section of the journal are expected to conform to scholarly standards in their use of theory and empirical research to ground discussion of educational issues. Expected article length is ordinarily in the 5,000-8,000 word range, but both longer and shorter pieces can be considered. In addition to the Editors, articles in this category will be read by a minimum of two peer reviewers.

Submission Guidelines 

Please see our journal website for specifics. Submissions and inquiries should be emailed to Kyle Greenwalt, Editor of The Journal of School & Society and Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Kyle’s email is greenwlt@msu.edu.

Submissions should be received by October 1, 2016.


1 John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: The Free Press, 1916/1997), 360. Emphases added.

2 Stephen M. Fishman and Lucille McCarthy. 2005. “The Morality and Politics of Hope: John Dewey and Positive Psychology in Dialogue”. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 41(3), 676.

3 That is, the field of positive psychology.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Journal of School & Society: Welcome to this Issue

Kyle Greenwalt
Michigan State University
Jared Kemling
Southern Illinois University
Along with my associate editor, Jared Kemling (Southern Illinois University), I am pleased to share with you this editorial team’s first issue of The Journal of School & Society. We thank the many members of the John Dewey Society who have supported us in this project as well as our contributors to this exciting issue.
The Journal of School & Society
            The John Dewey Society was founded in 1935. While the ideas and topics that interested Dewey are shared by many in our organization, as an editorial team, more than anything else, we seek to work in the spirit of the great American philosopher—and in particular, with his commitment to the use of the method of conjoint experience and communication for the enrichment of democratic living.
            TheJournal of School & Society seeks to position itself as speaking to all those interested in the place and function of education in a democratic society—to academics, certainly, but even more so to public school teachers, to parents, and to community and labor activists. To that end, we actively seek to highlight voices from diverse constituencies. We seek to be a journal of intelligent practice for creative and justice-oriented practitioners.
            To that end, this issue deals with the future of vocational education.

Our Contributors Reflect on the Work Vocational Education
The term “vocational education,” it seems, is quickly losing its popularity in favor of other terms and other trends: CTE (Career and Technical Education), POS (Programs of Study), and, perhaps most excitingly, the MakerSpaces that have been popping up in communities across the globe. A whole new way of working has brought with it a whole new way of learning to work. James R. Stone III, Director of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at Southern Regional Education Board, makes this abundantly clear in his article in this issue.
            What accounts for the decline in vocational education, as it was once known? Certainly, federal policy and legislation have played a part in this—as Stone makes clear. But there are perhaps other reasons as well. The older view of vocational education got itself entangled on the horns of several dilemma from which it was never able to free itself. Was it about enrichment of the living present or was it about preparation for a coming future? Was it about fitting children to the needs of industry or was it about re-shaping industry towards more socially-just outcomes? Was it about the preservation of the skills of the past or about learning the skills of the future? And just who, in any case, should engage in topics we might consider “vocational?”
            Needless to say, Dewey would have rejected any such dualisms and asserted the importance of vocational education—rightly understood—for all learners. Pieces in this issue by Anthony DeFalco and Liu Xing make this point in compelling ways: any worthy educational endeavor must, it seems, have its cake and eat it too. It must combine appreciation of the past with readiness for the future, present enjoyment with future demands, individual gifts with social needs, and efficiency with equity.
            To that end, the piece by the Reverend Kit Carlson of All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing, Michigan, is deeply resonate for me—as a scholar, as a teacher, and as a parent. Drawing upon figures such as Martin Luther, Frederic Buechner, and Parker Palmer, Carlson asks us to consider the difference between vocation and career, all the while asking how we can connect our “deep gladness” with “the world’s deep hunger.”
            In our everyday lives, when pipes break, we need plumbers to fix them. But in a democracy, surely we need not just plumbers who know their work, but plumbers who carry with them a sense of their worth and purpose. Such is the story told by Karen Murphy, Communications Director of Michigan State Employees Association: of plumbers who rushed into Flint to install new filters and faucets for residents threatened by the lead poisoning of the city’s water. Can we appreciate the work done by these plumbers and, at the same time, deny them a fair wage? Can we appreciate their work and deny them the right to collectively organize? Can the new wave of vocational education concern itself with credentials but ignore issues of social justice? It must not.
            Those carrying out the work of CTE must ensure that this does not happen. We turn, then, ultimately, to those doing the work. Both k-12 public school teachers and community organizations are well represented in this issue.
            Erica Swinney of Manufacturing Renaissance tells the fascinating story of her organization’s work to partner with Chicago Public Schools in offering the very type of cutting-edge CTE that seems so promising to those working in the field: stacked credentials, long-term career counseling, and attention to the so-called “soft skills” that make a person a valued colleague, comrade and citizen—all in a Chicago community hard hit by the flight of manufacturing jobs and institutional racism.
            Where, indeed, will the next Grace Lee Boggs come from? Erica Swinney just might be able to tell us.
            From the classroom, we hear from John Denson, an agricultural teacher in Texas. Drawing upon his experience as both a parent and a classroom teacher, Denson points out the continued opportunities for learning as we help a new generation of farmers feed the world. Love of animals—something that seems almost inherent to our species—can, in the hands of a talented educator, be led into love of both agricultural methods and democratic purposes. It also builds traits of character—the lovely notion of “horse sense” that Denson speaks of—that serve young adults well in the future.
            We also hear from Diane Allerdyce in a wide-ranging interview with Natasha Perez—all in a video that has been wonderfully edited and produced by James Jackman. Allerdyce is a long-time John Dewey Society member and a founder of the Toussaint L'Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice in Delray Beach, Florida. In this interview with Perez, Allerdyce broadly considers how her incredible school contributes to “the vocation of being human” among a group of students who clearly have so much to offer the world. From the arts, to social justice, to career education, Allerdyce helps us consider of what a truly integrated school curriculum consists.
            Finally, we hear from Kevin Russell, a social studies educator turned manufacturing instructor. Russell helps us see how these two subjects, in the hands of the right educator, are actually not so far apart. They both aim to ready kids to transform their communities through work done in service to others. Russell lays bare for us the struggles that teachers will have to confront as they open themselves up to the idea that colleges—with their ever increasing tuition rates—might not open as many doors as they promise. That teachers might demonstrate to students the beauty and worth of many different life paths.

John Dewey and Vocation
One senses that everything that John Dewey cared about could be fruitfully approached through the topic of vocational education. As he said in Democracy & Education: “The dominant vocation of all human beings at all times is living—intellectual and moral growth.”1
            What this means, then, is that vocational education—in the sense developed by the contributors across this issue—is a process that never ends.
            The excitement of vocational education can be sensed when we realize that each day brings opportunities for further growth and transformation—that today can be different than tomorrow, if our society values the human potential within all of its diverse members.
            Dewey understood this and he insisted upon honoring the diverse talents that each human being brings to the world. In his reconstruction of society, he called for new ways of working and serving, ones that would put learning at the forefront.
            As he noted, “ if even adults have to be on the lookout to see that their calling does not shut down on them and fossilize them, [then] educators must certainly be careful that the vocational preparation of youth is such as to engage them . . .”2
            This, then, is a vocational education worth pursuing. One that contributes to a life devoted to learning in, through, and for our work—broadly understood—all in pursuit of the common good.

1  John Dewey, Democracy and Education  (New York: The Free Press, 1916/1997), 310.

2  John Dewey, Democracy and Education  (New York: The Free Press, 1916/1997), 311.

Click here for submission guidelines