Reviews by Ronald Zigler

Moral Principles in Education

by John Dewey

Moral Principles in Education is John Dewey's most accessible title. It offers an excellent presentation of Dewey's philosophy of education with reference to the challenges of public education in a democratic society. Dewey accepts the validity of Aristotle's observation that children must be educated in accordance with the kind of government under which they will live. Life in a democratic society thus implies a specific quality of education appropriate to the challenges of democratic social life. In this title, Dewey makes it clear that democracy is more than a form of government, but a mode of associated living which optimizes the resolution of social problems. As such, there are specific social, moral principles which need to be acknowledged if we are to competently prepare the young for social life in a democratic society. After all, democratic principles by themselves are not the solution to social problems; rather, they demarcate the means by which we seek to address social problems. This makes it essential that young people learn these principles in school so that they will become adults who are competent in addressing social problems. As Dewey emphasizes in this text, there cannot be two sets of moral principles: one for inside the school and one for outside the schools. Only be experiencing democratic social principles in school, and their moral implications, can we learn how to apply these principles to the social life of a democratic society.

Reviewed on 2008.12.22

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