Here’s an essay arguing for the need to return to Dewey’s pedagogy:
For those who think that democracy ought to be a way of life rather than merely a means to select leaders, and that schools serve a vital civic function of teaching children to become autonomous adults, now is the time to recover the vision Dewey outlined in Democracy and Education.
The essay touches on many of my critiques of the American education system, but even I don’t think schools were ever set up to teach people much of anything, let alone how to become autonomous; autonomy is about the last thing a “high-performing” workforce needs. If a school does succeed in teaching someone how to be something other than a good worker—in the narrowist sense—than it has done so despite of, and not according to, its real goal.
Yes, all schools are different, and teachers are doing their best, and there are good examples everywhere. But it’s still true—and can be easily and clearly shown—that schools were never created to be engines of education, and that, indeed, they have more in common with prisons than they do with any idealized, overintellectualized visions of scholasticism dancing in people’s heads.