chapter  5
21 Pages

Inventing and reinventing the curriculum

So wrote John Dewey in 1916 setting in train a debate on the place and purposes of the curriculum which has been revisited in every generation since. But not always with approbation. In a US compilation of the ten most harmful books of the nineteenth and twentieth century Dewey’s Democracy and Education is included in the top ten, alongside The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. During the Thatcher administration Dewey’s status as the arch heretic was reified, held responsible for the toxic doctrine of child-centredness. At a Cambridge conference in 2004 Richard Pring recalled being approached in the late 1980s by a furious secretary of state, Kenneth Baker, who accused him, as an ally of John Dewey, of destroying education in English schools.