Some hundred years after John Dewey worked to illuminate what it means to educate and how public education serves as the bedrock of democracy, his seminal Democracy and Education speaks urgently not only to critical contemporary educational issues but to contemporary political issues as well. As mania for testing forces a steadily narrowing curriculum, Dewey explains why democracy cannot “flourish” if “the chief influences in selecting subject matter of instruction are utilitarian ends narrowly conceived for the masses.” As such utilitarian subject matter is increasingly placed online, isolating individual students and their electronic screens, he insists that education happens not through direct instruction but “indirectly by means of the environment” where members of a community engage in meaningful tasks. As the American population appears increasingly subject to rhetorical manipulation and ideological extremism, Dewey imagines the possibility of education cultivating “habits of mind which secure social changes without introducing disorder.” Insightful and inspiring, Dewey’s classic reintroduces readers to educational and political possibilities hard to remember as political and corporate forces to work reshape American public schools in the service of global profit rather than democratic life.
Myers Education Press’s Timely Classics in Education offer readers the opportunity to return to the original works of giants whose influence on education have persisted through the years. Critical introductions to each work offer information on the context of the original work as well as insights into current relevance. For readers unfamiliar with each text, the introductions provide entrée to the work; for experienced readers, the series offers an opportunity to return to original works untainted by the distortions of decades of interpretation. Unlike poorly produced facsimile editions, Timely Classics are high-quality products. They can be adopted for use in many types of education classes.