Gender Constructions in Progressive Education and their Impact on Co-Education
Elke Kleinau delivers a critical examination of the role of gender constructions in progressive education and how they have an impact on issues of co-education. She first focuses her critique on co-education in the early 20th century German discourses on progressive education, namely in the context of the so-called Landerziehungsheime (country boarding schools), before she contrasts them with selected writings of Dewey, especially the 1911 essay “Is Co-Education Injurious to Girls?” Kleinau observes that German feminist discourse has almost entirely neglected Dewey, while in the United States a host of researchers have undertaken feminist interpretations of his work. She acknowledges the relevance of Dewey's profound concept of democracy and his occasional support of women's issues like female suffrage. At the same time, she critically deconstructs a number of conventional gender constructions and traditional gender stereotypes in his text that seem to obstruct a full comprehension of co-education as a democratic necessity.