John Dewey

Discussing Education... Can We, Please?

In her latest post on her Education Week blog "Bridging Differences," Diane Ravitch writes:

I worry about the one-sided treatment of education issues... in the national media. The corporate reformers seem shocked when anyone questions their narrative. They see no downside to their dogmatic belief in closing schools and firing principals and teachers, nor to their dogmatic faith that higher test scores are the goal of education. They accuse critics of "defending the status quo," even though it is they who are the status quo, the champions of get-tough accountability. They don't understand that they might be wrong, that their critics deserve a hearing, and that disagreement is healthy. ...

For many years, I kept a clipping in my wallet, something that [Robert Maynard] Hutchins said. It was the last line of his obituary in The New York Times (May 16, 1977). He said: "The only political dogma in America is that discussion leads to progress, that every man is entitled to his own opinions, and that we have to learn to live with those whose opinions differ from our own. After all, they may turn out to be right."

The Daily Us

Perhaps Nicholas Kristof (whom I do admire) hasn't been keeping up with his John Dewey.
In today's New York Times, he writes:

When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about.
Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. has called this emerging news product The Daily Me. And if that’s the trend, God save us from ourselves.

He worries about this because "we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices" and implies that the situation is new to the Web--conveniently forgetting that New York City, a century ago, had more than a dozen major newspapers (not to mention all of the smaller ones, the newsletters, the magazines, the flyers) and that readers were feeling exactly the same then, and acting exactly the same.

The Public Good

Want to get depressed? Read Chris Hedges' piece over at TruthDig entitled “The Idiots Who Rule America.” His article resonates with me in part because of my interest in what Jürgen Habermas calls “the public sphere” (hell, my most recent book, Blogging America: The New Public Sphere even cites him in the title). Hedges writes: