Monday, March 21, 2016

The John Dewey Society 2016 D&E Centennial

The John Dewey Society will be celebrating the Centennial of the publication of John Dewey’s magisterial Democracy and Education in Washington DC on April 7 and 8, 2016. Please plan to participate in this historic celebration. Take out your calendars and mark these dates: April 7 and 8, 2016.

The Centennial Conference will take place the historic Thurgood Marshall Center - where Thurgood Marshall and his NAACP colleagues developed the legal strategies for victory over school segregation in Brown v. Board. The center is located at: 1816 12th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

We want everyone interested in democratic education to participate. The meeting will be free and open to the public, and will take place immediately prior to the annual meeting of the John Dewey Society and the American Educational Research Association

But space is limited: reserve your spot today! (See below for how to reserve your spot!)

Why Celebrate the Centennial of Democracy and Education?
Democracy and Education is the most important book on education in the twentieth century, and is the bible of democratic education worldwide. Democracy and Education is cited more frequently each year that all other classics of American educational studies - those by G. Stanley Hall, Alfred Binet, Edward Thorndike and others - combined!

Democracy and Education has been translated into every major world language and has inspired innovations and experiments in democratic education - in public schools and private experimental schools - in the United States and throughout the world - for one hundred years. Democracy and Education is more relevant today than ever. We need to come together to celebrate its centennial, and to renew our commitment to democratic education. Please join us!

Democracy and Education Today
Despite the efforts of thousands of dedicated educators and parents, schools in the United States today are still suffering under the domination of top-down standardized education: compulsory curriculum standards, pre-determined learning objectives, and high stakes standardized tests. This standardization regime is sold as ‘preparing all learners for the global economy’. In fact, it merely traps young people in a rat race for high test scores and endless competition for slots in competitive colleges. Children from elite families win; the rest struggle to survive.

The standardization regime compels teachers to abandon their hard-won practical knowledge, ignore the strengths of individual learners, and teach for the tests; It compels learners to give up their own passions and goals to conform to a system where their own interests and aims count for nothing. Instead of ‘no child left behind,’ this regime should be called ‘no child left alive,’ as it has a deadening effect hostile to individual passions and group aspirations. Instead of moving ahead - growing - young people are all too often trapped in isolation, boredom, frustration, and rigged competition. 

The message of Democracy and Education - its challenge to the standardization regime - needs to be re-stated, critically digested, re-interpreted for today’s educational situation, and disseminated for today’s teachers, parents and young people. 

It’s core message is clear: 
  • that education of young people is not preparation for adult life but life itself,
  • that the only aims worth pursuing in education are the aims of the learners themselves, as individuals and as members of groups,
  • that teaching consists primarily in structuring learning environments that engage learners in pursuing their aims - alone or in cooperative groups, 
  • that school lessons, however necessary to convey abstract and general relations, are a peripheral, and often dangerously overused component of schooling,
  • that democracy is built through cooperation and communication across racial, ethnic, gender, class, religious, political and philosophical differences as learners work together to achieve practical aims. 
Why Participate in the Centennial Event?
Through presentations and workshops, the Democracy and Education Centennial in Washington on April 7-8 2016 will offer you a chance to renew your appreciation of this great work, to exchange ideas with other educators, to think through its message for today, and to renew your commitment to democratic education. 

How to Participate?
The conference will feature invited presentations by leading scholars and democratic educators. The program committee will soon be finalizing its selection of invited speakers and workshop presenters, and you will hear exciting information about them in the months ahead. Meanwhile, all of your suggestions are welcome. 

Please mark your calendar and join us in Washington on April 7-8, 2016.

To reserve a spot, simply send an email to Kyle Greenwalt, JDS Secretary-Treasurer, at and put the term ‘reserve’ (without the quotes) in the subject line. 

You can reserve for yourself and a colleague in one email by providing the name and email address of yourself and your colleague. But if you want to assure more reservations, please promote the meeting to others and make sure that they send emails to reserve their spaces. Requesting a space indicates that you have placed the centennial event on your calendar and plan to attend. We want to assure a lively and enthusiastic participation, but space is limited.

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