28 mars 2012

"Transmission theory of schooling" (Critical Guide, E. D. Hirsch Jr)

   A derogatory phrase used by progressivists to imply that traditional schooling merely transmits an established social order by perpetuating its culture, knowledge, and values. It is contrasted with the more "modern" tool conception of schooling, which aims to produce students capable of thinking independently and of criticizing and improving the established social order. 

   In progressivist writings of the 1920s and '30s, the transmission theory of education was identified with a decadent and static Europe, while the open-ended tool conception was identified with a vibrant, forward-moving United States. 

   John Dewey, despite having been claimed by progressivists as their intellectual leader, stated explicitly in Democracy and Education that the transmission theory of education is both sound in itself and an absolutely necessary principle of civilization: "Society not only continues to exist by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in transmission." Dewey was certainly correct in taking this view, which coincides with common sense and with the view of the general public. 

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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