A Series of False Dichotomies

Lately I’ve been chewing on the book In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School (Mehta and Fine). In particular, I’m engaging with its premise that, at times, the deepest learning in high school happens “at the margins,” or in activities that can be classified as extracurricular or co-curricular.

More on all of that later, but here’s a nice quotation about — and therefore from — the bottomless fount known as John Dewey:

Dewey . . . rejected what he saw as a series of false dichotomies: between the practical and the academic, between school and society, between the interest of the child and the centrality of the subject. Dewey argued that all of these seeming gaps could be fused by skilled teachers: for instance, understanding how a car works can and should be integrated with understanding physics and chemistry. He also maintained that it is worthwhile for all students — no matter their eventual destinations — to understand both the practical mechanics of the car and the underlying scientific disciplines. Dewey was horrified by both the stilted teaching that to him produced superficial understanding in formal schooling and the bastardization of his ideas by progressives who emphasized the practical to the neglect of the academic.

More assertion that in the poker game of education, both . . . and beats either . . . or.

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