Many theorists of democratic education assume that the idea of having students deliberate about social issues in the classroom can be traced directly to the student-centered and reform-oriented ideals of interwar educational theorists such as John Dewey and Harold Rugg. However, in this intellectual history, Thomas D. Fallace argues that classroom deliberation as it is currently conceived emerged in part out of a backlash against the interwar ideology and epistemology that took place between 1938 and 1960, when democratic theorists rejected any commitment to ideology because such commitments were considered dangerous in a world falling prey to totalitarianism. As a result, leading educational theorists reoriented the focus on teaching social issues in the classroom away from the transmission of ideological subject matter toward deliberative skills, scientific thinking, open-ended inquiry, and consensus building, representing a major reorientation in civic education that largely continues to this day.
The Origins of Classroom Deliberation: Democratic Education in the Shadow of Totalitarianism, 1938–1960
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Thomas D. Fallace; The Origins of Classroom Deliberation: Democratic Education in the Shadow of Totalitarianism, 1938–1960. Harvard Educational Review 1 December 2016; 86 (4): 506–526. doi: https://doi.org/10.17763/1943-5045-86.4.506
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