1998-99 Monograph Series
From the Director
Article: "Education for Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility" by
Andrzejewski & John Alessio
Reponse to Global Citizenship by Richard Brosio
Response to Global Citizenship by Gustavo Teran
One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism by William Greider
Answering the Virtuecrats: A Moral Conversation on Character Education by Robert Nash
The Center for World Education at the University of Vermont
John Dewey: A Short Anecdote
On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni author and Nobel peace prize nominee, was executed for trying to stop the ecological devastation wrought by Royal/Dutch Shell Oil Company and the murders and human rights violations against the Ogoni people by the Nigerian government on behalf of Shell (Sachs, 1996, p. 11). Similarly, Chico Mendez was assassinated in 1988 for trying to protect the jobs of Brazilian rubber tappers and stop deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by wealthy cattle ranchers (Sachs, 1995, pp.1-2). How do these events pertain to people in the United States? Are teachers prepared to help their students develop the global consciousness needed to support human rights and ecological sustainability?
Our educational experiences did not provide us with the information and tools to understand what is happening in the world, how it affects our lives, the lives of others and the planet itself. We were not taught how we, as ordinary (non-rich) people, might live our lives and actively participate in creating a safer, more humane, sustainable world. Much of what I, Andrzejewski, now teach, I did not learn in my formal education. As a result of social movements, I encountered information that was never addressed in all of my years of schooling. Non-profit alternative press helped me realize that certain perspectives were also not represented in the news media I normally read. Information from these sources challenged and contradicted many things I had learned in my formal education. They connected deeply with my own life experiences, as a female, first generation college graduate, whose mother worked as a retail clerk and whose father was chronically underemployed. My experiences with this new information sparked a life-long self-education process through which I analyzed, questioned and investigated the conventional wisdom of many issues.
As the son of Italian immigrants, I, Alessio, was taught in school that immigrants came to the United States to escape the hardships of their backward cultures. What I learned from my father, and later from reading more accurate accounts of Italian migration, was that southern Italians were recruited with promises of riches by American companies seeking cheap labor. My father, like so many others, found himself working twelve hours a day in unsafe coal mines for essentially no pay. His boat fare was taken out of his paycheck, so he was forced to buy food on credit from the company store. Each "payday" he received no money, only a note saying how much he owed the company. At a certain point the store cut off his credit denying him even a loaf of bread for his children. My father became a union organizer to seek basic rights and some sense of dignity. I did not learn about the deception and exploitation of immigrants in school, nor the importance of unions to millions of workers. Personal experiences such as this made me acutely aware of other major gaps and forms of misinformation in my education.
The fact that we had to engage in self re-education might not seem very startling or distressing if students in the United States today were learning very different things than what we learned. However, in spite of the sincere efforts and dedication of talented educators in underfunded schools, the students in our classes seem to arrive at the university with many of the same myths and misinformation that took us years to investigate and unravel. With few exceptions, the basic information and skills taught have remained, by and large, the same for many years. Despite two decades of various state rules and mandates for multicultural, gender-fair education, most school districts, lacking in resources and overwhelmed with problems, have found ways to meet the surface requirements of such rules while changing very little actual content. In far too many schools, Columbus still "discovered America." George Washington is still the "father" of "our" country. History is still too often the stories of great white males with the few "exceptional" women and people of color added for "diversity." The U.S. is presented as the best nation in the world; one which, despite a few "mistakes," fights for human rights and democracy. Other countries are primarily studied for the natural resources available in them. People from other countries are generally portrayed as less knowledgeable, less advanced technologically and often incapable of handling their own country's affairs. Science is presented as a value-neutral system representing the only accurate information in the world, and always working for the betterment of society. Nature is often portrayed as a commodity, to be exploited, sold or altered for human consumption or profit. Democracy is presented as the study of how effectively the United States government works within the comforting system of checks and balances. The familiar list goes on.
It is widely acknowledged that education
rarely challenges the prevailing paradigms and interests of national governments,
wealthy elites, or dominant groups, whatever the economic or political
system. In fact, there is a substantial body of literature documenting
the revision and misrepresentation of history, education, and science in
the United States (Charnes, 1984; Fitzgerald 1979; Harding 1993; Loewen
1995; Zinn 1995). Such myths, lies, and distortions serve to certify the
superiority of certain groups, maintain their dominance and privileges
and project their view of the world. This is done by justifying their actions
or policies, omitting differing perspectives, discouraging student concern
or questions and downplaying the significance of the actions of ordinary
people for constructive social change. Misinformation survives from generation
to generation if teachers teach what they have been taught. As teachers,
we have a responsibility to critically review our own education and seek
out viewpoints that were not represented.
Return to Beginning of Article
Is there a conflict between education for social responsibility and education for jobs?
This paper is not another attack on teachers and schools. Rather it is an effort to re-examine the political pressures on schools and teachers to narrowly prepare students for the workforce rather than for broader citizenship and social responsibility purposes. As McNeil (1991) points out, this is not a new issue.
Good teaching is more important than ever before in our nation's history. Due to sweeping economic changes, today's world has little room for workers who cannot read, write, and compute proficiently; find and use resources; frame and solve problems with other people; and continually learn new technologies and occupations.... The education challenge facing the United States is not that its schools are not as good as they once were. It is that schools must help the vast majority of young people reach levels of skill and competence once thought within the reach of only a few, while also supporting a just and civil society that helps maintain our democratic life.... (1996, pp.6-7)
Evidence of the effectiveness of
this strategy permeates the media (Berliner & Biddle, 1995). Blamed
for any or all of society's ills, schools have become the target of severe
budget cutbacks, business advertising contracts (Draper, 1998, p. A3),
escalating standards for teachers and students, and threats ranging from
privatizing public schools (Lowe & Miner, 1996; Hotakainen, 1998, p.A1,
p. A10) to closing teacher preparation programs (Lively, 1998, pp. A27-A28).
Amidst all the blame, recrimination and punitive proposals, the most important
question still goes begging: What is the primary purpose of education?
Are we educating students for competitive employment in the global marketplace
or are we educating global citizens who can respond creatively to the enormous
and pressing issues facing humankind in the twenty-first century? What
happens when these purposes conflict with one another? If education at
all levels has a responsibility to prepare global citizens to address the
problems of the world, what is that responsibility, and are we, as educators
and policymakers, prepared to meet it?
Return to Beginning of Article
Are educational institutions meeting their mission of educating citizens?
Preparing students to become knowledgeable citizens has been identified as a purpose of education throughout U. S. history from Jefferson to Dewey and beyond. Most schools still identify citizenship as a primary mission of education but how does this translate into the curriculum? What knowledge and skills are identified as important for good citizenship? A 1997 third grade textbook, Living in Our World (Boehm et al), provides a common answer. It emphasizes obeying the law as the primary responsibility of citizenship. On eight of thirteen pages relating to citizenship, laws are the focus.
1. voteOccasionally, a student will list the proverbial advice to write to your congressperson but when asked how many have actually done that, only one or two respond, indicating it was not part of their education. While "participatory democracy" is lauded in educational contexts, it is not what students are learning.
2. obey the law
3. pay taxes
4. salute the flag, and
5. say the pledge of allegiance.
Why should citizenship be viewed in a global context?
As the millennium nears, people all over the world are struggling with problems of a magnitude no other generation has faced. Even in the most affluent nations, millions of people suffer from hunger, homelessness, and unattended health problems. Wars, civil conflicts and invasions take the lives of millions more. Global changes in the climate are creating severe local weather conditions, destroying lives and property. Human projects continue to despoil the land, water and air. For example, millions of tons of hazardous waste generated by industrial countries are exported to non-industrialized areas of the world (Sachs, 1995, p.7). Over three billion pounds of pesticides a year are used globally causing "human poisonings, harm to fish and wildlife, livestock losses, groundwater contamination, destruction of natural vegetation, and more pests resistant to pesticides" (Jacobson et al, 1991, p. 45). Deforestation, soil erosion, destruction of habitat, extinction of species, depletion of aquifers are but a few of the many attacks on our planet. While natural resources are stripped from the earth, new "species" are genetically engineered by corporations for profitability and monopolized through complex international patent laws with few constraints for releasing them into the environment. Ancient knowledge of plants and animals, and even human genetic material, are stolen from indigenous peoples and used to generate wealth for a few while the cultures which generated the knowledge are decimated (Shiva, 1997). As these examples demonstrate, human rights and environmental issues are clearly intertwined.
Many contradictions exist. Countries with hungry people export grains or feed them to livestock for export. Millions of jobs are eliminated by technology or runaway factories as CEO salaries skyrocket. While the United Nations ratified a Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, more than 250 million children are forced into labor (Sanders, 1997). Enormous resources are wasted on the production of guns and weapons of destruction as social programs and education funds are drastically reduced. Projects to solve one problem have created other problems. Dams, viewed for decades as creating "clean" energy and providing irrigation, are responsible for destroying the means of subsistence for millions of people who are forced to relocate their homes. Altering the natural flow of rivers, these dams flood millions of hectares of arable land, create conditions for water born diseases and prevent fish from spawning. Aquaculture, heralded as the answer to declining fish and shrimp populations, is despoiling the habitat of other species. McMichaels states the problem succinctly:
The primacy of profit maximization
over all other values is the core of both social and environmental problems.
Nations and nature are being restructured to meet this primary goal, not
to meet the needs of ordinary people or to ensure a sustainable environment.
The problems created are global, with consequences for many different countries
and communities. For example, when U. S. companies move plants and jobs
to other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor, they leave economic
devastation in local U.S. communities and undermine the existing economies
in the new locations. At the same time, they take advantage of less stringent
environmental policies in other countries that allow them to pollute more
freely or to use chemicals banned in the United States. Sometimes, these
chemicals return to consumers in the U.S. in the imported products. Global
problems necessitate going beyond national borders to embracing the concept
of global citizenship. By learning how global issues affect individual
and community lives, how and why decisions are made which affect the planet
and life on it and, most importantly, means by which the future can be
influenced, education can prepare students to become socially responsible
Return to Beginning of Article
Why aren't educators teaching about these issues?
Issues of global justice, environment, survival, human rights and citizenship are, for the most part, not major components of the curriculum in PK-12 schools and are still given short shrift in higher education institutions. They are rarely addressed by administrators, school boards or trustees, teacher or faculty unions, state legislators, proposals for educational reform, nor even the Congress of the United States, at least in relation to education. Where global issues are addressed, they are often approached through the biased perspectives of ethnocentrism, national chauvinism, and global economic dominance.
There are several possible reasons for the absence of global citizenship in the curricula of our schools. First, because many educators and policymakers in the United States don't experience or see the immediate consequences of these problems, it is possible to distance ourselves from them. They are someone else's problems. In addition, many of these issues, like global warming or aquifer depletion, are trends, not catastrophic events (McMichael, 1993). They don't appear to require immediate action. The problems we do see seem to be local or individual. In addition, corporate public relations campaigns try to convince "…the American public that most ecological problems are not serious, or do not exist at all, and that the cost of environmental regulation to American businesses, taxpayers, and workers is too expensive" (Faber, 1998, p. 34).
Second, global issues seem immensely depressing and insurmountable, leading people to believe we can have little or no influence on them. What action could one possibly take which would have the slightest impact on issues of such magnitude? We are often overwhelmed enough with the difficulties of our own lives, much less taking on problems at the global level.
Third, teachers have been taught to avoid "political" issues that differ from the conventionally accepted beliefs embedded in the traditional curriculum. The structure of schools encourages the fragmentation, mystification, simplification and omission of knowledge for efficiency and control (McNeil, 1991, pp.166-178). Teachers often learn how to teach defensively to reduce controversy, student resistance, parental objections and administrative sanctions. "School knowledge," like fast food, has been overcooked and pre-packaged for immediate consumption. Divorced from "real world" knowledge relevant to broad community life experiences, student disengagement should not be surprising to anyone.
Finally, as discussed earlier, educators
have not usually been taught about issues of social and global responsibility
in our own school experiences. If we don't feel we have the confidence,
knowledge and skills necessary to make a positive contribution ourselves,
how can we expect to encourage these attributes in our students? Furthermore,
teachers will not learn to value and include issues of socially responsible
global citizenship if teacher educators, administrators and policymakers
do not. If teachers/faculty are not aware of global issues, if we are not
active citizens ourselves, if we do not question, investigate and critically
analyze the social and economic institutions in our lives, it will be difficult
for us to foster these behaviors in others. Therefore, as we continue to
re-educate ourselves about issues of race, class, gender and disability,
we must face the challenge of global issues on the horizon.
What do we mean by global citizenship?
As should be clear by now, we are defining global citizenship as knowledge and skills for social and environmental justice (Andrzejewski, 1996, pp.3-9). More specifically, what does this mean? The following comprehensive learning objectives, developed by a broad-based faculty committee with representatives from many disciplines, could provide a working document for developing global citizenship skills over a student's entire educational experience.
1. Students will be able to examine
the meaning of democracy and citizenship from differing points of view
including non-dominant, non-western perspectives.
2. The student will explore the various rights and obligations that citizens may be said to have in their communities, nations and in the world.
3. Students will understand and reflect upon their own lives, careers, and interests in relation to participatory democracy and the general welfare of the global society.
4. Students will explore the relationship of global citizenship and responsibility to the environment.
Understanding of ethical behavior in personal, professional and public life:
1. Students will be familiar with
fundamental national and international laws, documents and legal issues
pertaining citizenship, democracy and human rights.
2. Students will be able to identify the civic and ethical responsibilities of people in specific fields/careers.
3. Students will be able to compare and evaluate the policies of an institution, community, state or nation in the context of its stated philosophical and cultural values.
4. Students will be able to examine various social policies and institutions (educational, economic, political, legal, media, military, etc.) in relation to fostering citizenship, democracy, respect for diversity, human rights and the environmental impact.
5. Students will examine the interrelationship of personal and professional decisions/actions on society and the environment.
Knowledge and skills for involved responsible citizenship at the local, state, national and global level:
1. Students will have knowledge of
an increasingly pluralistic society and world where the requirements of
citizenship are open to important debates between citizens of different
nationalities, races, colors, creeds, genders, religions, abilities and
disabilities, and sexual orientations.
2. Students will be able to locate information from a variety of sources, identify underlying values and investigate the veracity of information.
3. Students will be able to identify and investigate problems, examine underlying assumptions, synthesize information, formulate solutions, identify constituencies, compose arguments and identify appropriate forums for taking actions.
4. Students will understand and practice various forms of citizenship skills: self-empowerment/ assertiveness, media analysis, letter writing, evaluation of candidates, lobbying, organizing, etc.
5. Students will be encouraged to demonstrate skill development in participatory democracy by the completion of a community service, citizen participation or social action project. (SCSU General Education Subcommittee on Citizenship and Democracy, 1997)*
How might global citizenship be taught?
Following the advice of John Dewey, education for global citizenship should be grounded in the personal experiences of the student and her/his community. As an example of connecting global issues with life experiences, Ryan and Durning (1997) invite readers of their book, Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things, to consider the impact of their daily consumption (and garbage) on the lives of other people and places in the world. Written like a story, the consumption of coffee, newspapers, t-shirts, shoes, car, computer, hamburger, french fries and cola are traced from their origins through the inequities of the production process to the consequences of waste products. Each short chapter ends with practical suggestions about what people can do in their daily lives to support a more sustainable and humane world.
Some teachers are leading the way. For example, one eighth-grade Spanish teacher explores global and social issues through "…the context of the lives of the speakers of these languages (by focusing) on Central America." He introduces the issue of child labor by raising reflective questions: "Why do we rarely hear about these countries? Why are these countries so underdeveloped? What do the young people of these countries do? What is their future?" He uses the United Nations Rights of the Child document as the basis of discussions, stating,
Although some would suggest that such discussions do not belong in a language class, I maintain that language cannot be studied in a vacuum. The culture of the life of the child in the 1990's is just as important as the culture of the life of the child in the Mayan times. Too often our curricula focus on the past, often presented in Disney-like terms, and ignore the bleak realities of today. Such instruction is deceitful and inadequate. It does not prepare the students to look the status quo head on and ask: Why? (Buggs, 1998, p.1)
Other teachers who see the need to prepare students with a global perspective have begun to develop curricula for teaching global citizenship. Amy Sanders, a high school teacher from Maine, has recently published a high school curriculum, Child Labor is Not Cheap (1997). The Resource Center of the Americas (www.americas.org) in Minneapolis specializes in teaching materials on Central and South America. Teaching for Change in Washington D.C. and United for a Fair Economy in Boston (www.stw.org) provide classroom resources and experiential exercises. Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice (1994), written primarily by teachers, combines cutting edge pedagogical theory with practical classroom applications. While many of the articles address issues within the United States, several, like "Poverty and World Resources" (Hersh & Peterson, 1994, pp.92-93), reach out to connect global injustices with the policies of industrial countries. Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org) is currently writing a curriculum on global sweatshops. Danny Seo, who founded Earth 2000 for environmental and animal rights at age 12, provides a guide for other children in his book, Generation React: Activism for Beginners (1997). Stories of eighteen activist young people are available in Kids Explore Kids Who Make a Difference (1997).
Even though many schools avoid these issues, young people are very aware of them. When asked what concerns they have about the world today, students identify almost every significant issue. They are worried about the ozone layer, global warming, AIDS, racism, sexism, the rainforests, the treatment of animals, the extinction of species, violence in homes and communities, terrorism, genocide, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, poisons in the air, food and water and more. Even though they know very little about the global economy, they have heard of it and know that it means increased competition for fewer and fewer livable wage jobs. The information they do receive, from a sound bite on television or abbreviated article in the mainstream media, is fragmented, incomplete and de-emphasized.
Students should have the right to investigate, study and explore these issues as a normal part of their education. They should be able to investigate issues raised by contemporary social movements: simple living, vegetarianism, organic and natural foods, sustainable communities, livable wages, social justice and equality movements, democratizing science and technology, sustainable jobs, labor initiatives, curriculum transformation, service learning, socially responsible businesses and investments, challenges to global sweatshops, etc. These questions and topics can inspire young people to reflect on and become actively involved in making a better world, not as incidental subject matter, but as the primary focus of their educational experience.
Student interest and demand for globally
responsible education can be documented. Two examples can be drawn from
our own university. A minor program in Human Relations that addresses issues
of diversity and global citizenship was developed in 1986. By 1994, this
program was the largest minor among all the state universities and remains
so today. When students sought opportunities for further study, four departments
developed an interdisciplinary Master's degree program in Social Responsibility,
which attracted nearly fifty students in its first two years.
Return to Beginning of Article
What is the connection between jobs and global citizenship?
In the context of global social responsibility, the issues of livelihood and work need to be examined. We in the industrial world associate survival with employment. This association is being forced on other cultures as the global economy establishes dominance. But we must not forget that employment for survival is a relatively recent concept. It has not always been this way, and there are still parts of the world where survival is not based on working for someone seeking a profit from the labor of others. The conflicting educational purposes of jobs vs. citizenship can be alleviated if we encourage students to consider the social and environmental impact of the work they do. Jobs need not be about extraction, devastation, pollution, over-consumption or exploitation. It is important to remember that for thousands of years humans lived with sustainable relationships to nature and only spent a few hours of every day for their own subsistence. One of the purposes of technology was to save labor. By doing so, technology has been used to eliminate people's livelihood, i.e. their jobs. Instead, it could be used to simply reduce the amount of time people have to work to support themselves and their families.
Science and technology could be used to preserve the earth instead of destroying it. Education should develop citizens who can critically evaluate the impact of human projects on other human beings, other species, and the environment. Education could teach active skills in influencing the direction of policies and practices. As one example, students at Humboldt State University initiated a graduation pledge in relation to jobs which has been adopted at colleges and universities across the nation. Stated simply, it says, "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider or any organization for which I work" (www.manchester.edu/departmt/peace). Student Pugwash USA encourages another pledge campaign:
A recent article to teachers from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development on Global Education states,
What are the benefits of teaching global citizenship?
There are many benefits to teaching about global citizenship which reflect the position of this paper. Who could deny the importance of a safer, healthier, more peaceful, more just and sustainable world in which to live? In addition to these obvious long-term benefits to the world, there are also immediate benefits. Studying global problems and the various strategies for addressing them can generate a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Practicing active citizenship whether through personal changes, service learning, grassroots organizing, or a myriad of other activities, can provide meaning to the curriculum. Students will feel comfortable interacting with diverse groups of people. Students and teachers alike can see that they can make an impact to make the world a better place, far beyond the individualistic goal of getting a job. Students will understand more clearly what citizenship means and feel ready to make significant contributions for humankind in a sustainable environment.
During this period of educational upheaval, educators and policymakers alike have an opportunity to dramatically change the nature of education—regardless of our discipline or position in the educational system. We can make a tremendous difference to the entire social world and the preservation of the earth for subsequent generations if we reprioritize education for global citizenship. In the words of John Dewey, "As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to transmit and conserve the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as make for a better future society. The school is the chief agency for the accomplishment of this end" (1916: 20).
*The authors served on a broad-based multi-disciplinary faculty committee that met weekly for a year to develop a general education core course on Citizenship and Democracy at our university. Although this final description was overwhelmingly accepted by the vote of the entire faculty senate, a traditional course was put in its place. A few progressive departments have been able to integrate some of the original concepts into their courses.
Return to Beginning of Article
About the Authors:
Julie Andrzejewski is a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. She has authored and directed several grant projects including: Responsible Citizenship in a Democracy, Global Understanding and Multicultural Perspectives, the Women Scholars of Color Project and the Citizenship for Diversity Project, an educational model program to prevent harassment and hate crimes on campus. She is the editor of Oppression and Social Justice: Critical Frameworks (5th edition) and co-author of Why Can't Sharon Kowalski Come Home?
John Alessio is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at St. Cloud State University. He authored and directed a grant project on curriculum transformation entitled Critical Thinking Through Critique and has initiated other projects for cultural diversity, institutional change and advocacy for excluded groups. He has written and presented articles on issues of social exchange theory, equity theory, sex discrimination and labor, a number of which have been published in journals such as: Social Psychology Quarterly, Journal of Marriage and Family, Transformations, and Social Forces. Dr. Alessio initiated a Master's degree in Social Responsibility at St. Cloud State University and co-developed the program with Dr. Andrzejewski. The program was approved in 1997.
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From the Director:
Our topic for this issue, "Educating for Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility" is an important and timely one. At a time when our economy is increasingly "globalized", when information and capital careen around the world at breathtaking speeds, when environmental problems are planetary in scope, and when wars and hurricanes and human rights abuses from around the world saturate our television screens daily, we need to carefully consider how we are educating our children to cope with these new realities. Julie Andrzejewski and John Alessio, in our featured monograph, challenge prevailing conventional thinking that says that our primary educational purpose must now be to educate students for the competitive global workplace. They invite us to think about the notion of global citizenship, and ask ourselves whether our educational institutions are meeting their mission of educating citizens, not just workers and consumers. They provide inspiring stories of teachers who are educating for this expanded notion of citizenship and provide concrete principles and numerous resources to help teachers in this worthy endeavor.
John Dewey, in his time, was concerned with the narrow version of patriotism and citizenship taught in schools, and considered such conventional schooling a form of "indoctrination" with reference to the dominant economic regime. He disagreed with some of his contemporaries, however, who believed that only a radical counterindoctrination could foster the development of a more humane social order, and advocated instead for teachers to cultivate democratic character and intelligent judgment in their students. He believed that the fostering of these habits of mind must be strengthened by the intelligent study of historical and existing social and political conditions if our students are to develop the sort of wise critique of society that might enable them to create a more just and humane world.
Just how to best educate students for active democratic citizenship in a fast changing, shrinking world is a debate that is very much alive today. The lead article in this issue of our monograph series offers some provocative insights on this topic. Advisory Board member Richard Brosio and Gustavo Teran, Research Assistant Professor with the John Dewey Project, highlight different aspects of the topic in their responses to the lead article. Our featured book reviews examine the macro and the micro dimensions of our topic. Visiting Scholar Richard Gibboney reviews an important book on global economics, One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, by William Greider, and Advisory Board member David Conrad reviews a book on the complex issue of character education, Answering the Virtuecrats: A Moral Conversation on Character Education, by University of Vermont scholar Robert Nash. We invite you to become part of the conversation about educating for active democratic citizenship in a global era, and to respond to the issues raised in this monograph by writing to us at email@example.com.
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"Educating for Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility"
By Richard Brosio
Andrzejewski situates herself early on in terms of social class, and things she never had a chance to learn through formal education. Similarly, Alessio articulates his class origin and consciousness; like Andrzejewski, he makes clear that he learned about the oppression of workers outside of school. The two authors argue that K-12 students continue to experience schooling that does not encourage them to move beyond misinformation and myths about how the world works. The authors are also concerned about the failure to inform students that it is possible for "ordinary" people to form liberatory progressive projects aimed at making our lives better. Andrzejewski and Alessio recognize that many teachers do try to educate their students into recognition of the discrepancy between what is and what could/should be.
The monograph situates the K-12 school within the historic conflicting imperative upon it, namely, schooling for uncritical work skills and education for critical citizenship. Some have called this a clash between capitalism and democracy. The authors charge North American corporate leaders with attempts to "takeover" public education, including the construction of ideological allegiance to a "free-market" view of the world and how it works. This in addition to securing lucrative educational contracts, and transforming schooling into training centers for a compliant work force. This attempted takeover began with a barrage of criticism against public schools and its teachers. Not surprisingly, the agents of the corporate project have attempted to use tax dollars for private schooling. Unfortunately, the perennially necessary philosophical question is seldom heard: "What is the primary purpose of education?"
Even though citizenship education still occurs, all too often it is reduced to formal and/or ritualistic actions such as voting, paying taxes, saluting the flag, etc. The students are not being taught about authentic participatory democracy. The authors favor such participation by all of the various peoples who comprise the U.S. Advocating the idea of global citizenship, the authors argue that the problems and possibilities are global in scope during the last years of the second millennium, which is characterized by unprecedented capitalist power. Human rights are linked to environmental issues. The capitalist imperium over the whole world has already resulted in the destruction of land, water, sustainable infrastructure, and people on a massive scale. Educators must acknowledge these occurrences as well as prepare their students to consider possible responses. As national sovereignty gives way to the U.S. led New World Order, the people most affected by the hyper-exploitation of the earth’s human and physical resources are unable to protect themselves. This is why global citizenship is needed. Obviously, this citizenship must be within new political institutions capable of opposing global capitalism and its subjection of everyone and every place to the logic of markets and profit.
Andrzejewski and Alessio are insightful concerning reasons why many educators are unable or unwilling to engage in radical critique of what is wrong and unjust in the world today. However, they provide useful educational ideas concerning what can be done. These ideas are expressed in student performance language, which can be helpful to readers who are educators. The authors recognize the role pioneering teachers already play in terms of educating for global citizenship. The latter’s accomplishments are cited so that readers can learn from what is occurring theoretically and pedagogically. The monograph’s authors pay their respects to these pioneers.
Although Andrzejewski and Alessio address neither the question of how progressive democratic alliances can be built, nor who will constitute the agency necessary to make things better, their work can help interested readers to think further about what is to be done. The authors might develop further a synthetic explanatory context within which the many injustices they analyze can be seen as related. They suggest that the global regime of capital is the primary cause for what they rightfully condemn. However, their fine monograph would be even better were they to point to sources which seek to explain more fully how various injustices experienced by classed, raced, and gendered actors are subtly and complexly related. The problem of how citizenship is to develop within developing capitalist economies is related to the kinds of pressures workers can put on their governments and international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. In the end, Andrzejewski and Alessio deserve two cheers for insisting that "the primary purpose of education is to prepare students to become stewards of the earth and participants in democracy for global social justice."
Richard Brosio is Professor of Foundations of Education at Ball State University. He is the author of A Radical Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education (1994, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.)
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"Education for Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility"
By Gustavo Teran
In this monograph Andrzejewski and Alessio eloquently articulate a rationale for education for global citizenship that, based on my own personal experience as a Chicano educator involved in inter-cultural education, I find most compelling. For the past four years I and a few other university faculty have been engaged in facilitating cross-cultural encounters (bearing academic credit) between our university students and community leaders, educators and students in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our experience in this intercultural dialogue soundly supports many of the arguments for education for global citizenship that Andrzejewski and Alessio lay out.
Andrzejewski and Alessio question the relevance of formal schooling in the U.S. to an understanding of life in an increasingly complex and interdependent world. They cite examples of misinformation in their own schooling and of widespread instances of parochialism and lack of cultural sensitivity in today's schools, observations gleaned from their experiences as professional educators. Moreover, noting the obvious global dimensions of the most serious problems we face today—environmental destruction, depletion of natural resources, hunger and homelessness, disregard for the rights of ethnic minorities, children, women, gays, and the poor—the authors ask the crucial question: "Are teachers prepared to help their students develop the global consciousness needed to support human rights and ecological sustainability?" Sadly, their answer to this question is "No". The authors find that despite the efforts of dedicated teachers and the good intentions of policy makers who pass mandates for multicultural and gender-fair education, schooling remains parochial and insensitive to the global nature of social and environmental problems.
One of the most serious charges the authors present is that our education system today is dominated by the imperatives of the marketplace—an imperative that ignores any notion of social responsibility. The authors maintain that although historically the primary mission of education has been to prepare students for responsible citizenship, in practice today's schools emphasize preparing workers for the global marketplace. Gustavo Esteva, a Mexican social activist and partner in our Oaxaca exchange puts it more bluntly. He claims that schools—at least in Mexico—are preparing students to be individual, undifferentiated units, which are easily interchangeable in the global marketplace.
Andrzejewski and Alessio argue for an emphasis not only on citizen education but more specifically education for global citizenship. In this context global citizenship entails an examination of our own cultural assumptions about life and work. For example, the authors point out that "We in the industrial world associate survival with employment. This association is being forced on other cultures as the global economy establishes dominance." In fact, this is exactly the situation we find in many of the indigenous and campesino villages we visit in Oaxaca, where community members express feelings of alarm when they see their traditional values, such as the importance of family and community over profit, threatened by values and practices imposed by authorities seeking to emulate U.S. or European lifestyles. In fact, our U.S. students are often shocked to find that many fundamental principles that they hold as universal are not accepted as such by the communities we visit. Community leaders challenge even the idea of individual human rights when these rights conflict with communal obligations and responsibilities that have traditionally served to hold the community together. The primacy of community over individual, in fact, is an idea that U.S. students often find difficult to digest.
This type of encounter produces in students, first of all, a shock that there are people who do not share fundamental principles that they hold dear, and later a reflection on what it means to encounter people who live a life that is full of dignity and purpose, but do not value many of the material things and ideological positions that these students take for granted. There is also, of course, the realization that commonalties do bring us together. I believe that this is the type of global consciousness that Andrzejewski and Alessio call for in our education.
Gustavo Esteva claims that we can only discover our own myths when we encounter the "other" who has different myths. By myth Esteva means that which we take for granted, that which is not questioned. It is in this inter-cultural encounter and ensuing dialogue that we learn to respect and appreciate cultures, beliefs and practices that are different from our own. Here we can begin to appreciate dimensions of truth and goodness that are different from our own; it is here where we begin to establish the groundwork for democratic participation and responsible action as global citizens that Andrzejewski and Alessio call for.
Gustavo Teran is Research Assistant Professor with the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education.
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Review by Richard A. Gibboney
One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism
By William Greider,New York: Simon & Schuster (1997)
William Greider, editor of Rolling Stone magazine and the author of the best-selling Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy, is distinguished as a journalist for his ability to think and to penetrate the vagaries of democracy as well as the inner workings of the Federal Reserve System (Secrets of the Temple). In this book he penetrates the hype along with well-intentioned hopes for the fruits multi-national corporations may bestow upon us while invoking the mantra of the Global Market. Well . . . maybe not opines Greider in this fact-filled and well-argued book.
One dividend to me in reading Greider’s book is the hope that he might write a book on education. After all, if one can write lucidly about socially significant topics like the Federal Reserve system and global economics, topics considered to be even duller than education, one has empirical justification to dream.
One World is on the thick side as books go: over 400 pages. The book is complex and multi-layered yet readable. Greider takes us to places such as Poland, Japan, and Germany; to Indonesia and China; and, yes, to the United States where he says low cost global labor is bringing "sweat shops back in the United States, visible from Los Angeles to New York and across the rural south" (p. 34). One major point in this eye-opening book is that global capitalism is paid for by the poor people of the world and by our precious physical environment because global capitalists, as the robber barons of old, go to markets where laboring men and women and, yes, children are unprotected by labor laws and where the rivers and trees and the very air is for the taking because of weak or non-existent environmental laws.
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, says in a jacket blurb "that if people around the world read only one book on global economics, it should be this brilliant book by William Greider". Sweeney goes on to say that, although Greider’s book is rich in detail, "Greider grounds his analysis in the real lives and days of workers from Seattle to Shanghai, Jakarta and Kansas City, giving us a rich and fresh perspective."
Let’s look more closely at poor people caught up in the sweep of global capitalism—peasants in Thailand. In Thailand the old military-bureaucracy elite was replaced by a politician-capitalist alliance. Neither elite was democratic nor represented the interests of the workers and peasants. The easy assumption that "free markets" would lead to democracy was no more true in Thailand than it was in Japan and Germany before World War II. Powerful ruling groups imposed changes on a weak citizenry. What happened? Rice taxes made peasant farmers poorer and large-scale farming led to more land being used for large farms that drove peasants off their land. While Thailand became a major food exporter, small landholders in the countryside paid a devastating price. Millions of peasants were evicted from their ancient farm plots and forests by large dams, roads, and other "improvements". Droughts and peasant debt mounted because of large-scale farming. The poor paid dearly. Poverty in rural areas led to children being sold to sweatshops in Bangkok or to prostitution. One peasant recalled this horror: "I still remember vividly the bulldozers destroying my orchard, my mangoes, my jackfruits, my sweet tamarind trees." She was paid nothing. Her income from tapioca planting fell from $360 a year to $60. "We are poor people", she said. "Don’t you think we should be able at least to grow what we can eat?" (pp. 350-353).
What does a book on global economics have to do with education (some of my students impatiently ask), or with John Dewey’s work? "Everything" I reply. Space does not permit a full response to that question. I shall sketch my answer. John Dewey lived through the first two industrial revolutions: the first technology was steam followed by the technology of electricity from about 1860 to World War I. The technology of computers powered by a silicon chip created the Third Industrial Revolution. This power source makes possible the fast flow of capital around the world and provides the major technology that drives global economics. Dewey saw the old social world of family, work, and school crumbling. He tried to write an education theory that recognized the social realities of his time. We, in our time, need to create an education theory that recognizes the harsh social realities of the computer: all technologies eat away at the existing social fabric (history is very clear on this point); automation – computer run factories – increasingly make human workers unnecessary; finally, because technology and the global economy displace middle class workers, the percentage of American workers working full time but earning less than a poverty level income rose by 50 percent from 1979 to 1992 (Rifkin, 1995, p. 169). Every month newspapers carry accounts of massive layoffs of middle class workers: 40,000 at IBM; Sears laid off 20,000 a few years ago. The list is staggering.
Look at the innocent faces of this year’s senior class and recall these words of Jeremy Rifkin.
Richard A. Gibboney is currently Visiting Scholar with the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education. He is on sabbatical leave from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Associate Professor of Education. A former Commissioner of Education in Vermont, he is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Stone Trumpet: A Practical Story of School Reform 1960-1990, and most recently What Every Great Teacher Knows (with Clark Webb).
1. Rifkin, Jeremy. The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era. (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995).
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Review by David Conrad
Answering the Virtuecrats: A Moral Conversation on Character Education
Robert J. Nash, New York: Teachers College Press (1997)
Nash has a wealth of ideas, insights, and instructional approaches to share with educators who want to deepen their understanding of the meanings of virtue, the language of virtue, and character education initiatives. Answering the Virtuecrats is a provocative book by a gifted scholar and author. Educators will find it stimulating to read, digest, and critique this compact but rich volume.
Nash contends in his first chapter that many of the best known conservative character educators like William Bennett and William Kilpatrick have become ministers of moral character. Nash proceeds to argue that, in spite of many worthy qualities of the character education now being promoted, it is deeply flawed and so are two of its worthwhile alternatives, communitarian and liberationist education. Nash is committed to democratic dispositions and development of a democratic character that he believes will be stifled in the hands of basically authoritarian, antidemocratic character educators. What citizens require, Nash affirms, "is a certain liberality of character, marked by the virtues of self-discipline, obligation, civility, tolerance, fairness, and generosity" (p. 11).
Masterfully, Nash develops the philosophical and historical bases for each virtue innitiative—neo-classical, communitarian, and liberationist—in separate chapters, followed by an exploration of the educational dimensions of each initiative and a personal commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of each. In the final two chapters he introduces a kind of classroom discourse—the moral conversation—that has worked well for him and, in the concluding chapter, a postmodern alternative that cultivates the democratic dispositions of hope and confidence, courage, self-respect, friendship and trust, honesty and decency, and others.
After arguing that the neo-classical character educators like Bennett, Kilpatrick, and Wynne and Ryan are cultural declinists who praise traditional Western virtues, Nash analyzes neo-classical educational goals, curriculum, and instructional methods in schools and colleges. He concludes that neo-classicists are correct in challenging "the domination of self-esteem, values clarification, and cognitive-developmental approaches to moral education...", (p. 30) but wrong in fostering "an ethos of compliance in the schools wherein indoctrination and rote learning replace critical reflection and autonomous decision making" (p. 30). Nash finds many deficiencies in the neo-classical initiative, observing that students cannot form a commitment to democracy by simply reading books of virtue --what Nash calls the "moral contagion" (pp. 46-7) school of character formation, where readers of an inspiring book "catch it." According to Nash, much writing in this genre smacks of ultra-conservative special pleading and many of the virtues promulgated are calculated to reinforce a sociopolitical (and moral) status quo. He takes issue with Bennett and others for ignoring the political or philosophical pre-texts when assigning texts on virtues. His criticism is an important one, though Nash himself might be challenged for not examining adequately the political implications of the neo-classical initiative. For instance, to what extent would the neo-classical perspective be effective in addressing the critical ecological, civil and human rights, and social and economic justice realities confronting global citizens at the close of the twentieth century?
At the beginning of the chapter on the communitarian initiative--as at the beginning of every chapter--Nash includes thoughtful, provocative quotations woven felicitously into the text. He differentiates the communitarian from the neo-classical approach by the communitarian critique of liberal excess--especially excessive forms of individualism, rights talk, and secularism and pluralism (p. 54). The community rather than the individual is the fountainhead of virtue and value. Outlining three strands of communitarianism--sectarian, postliberal, and civic-liberal--Nash sees the sectarians with their Christian perspective as most conservative, the postliberals with their criticism of liberal political ideals as most militant, and the civic-liberals with their commitment to a democratic, civil society as most moderate. The author systematically spells out some of the major arguments of communitarian thinkers on educational goals, curriculum, and instructional strategies. As always, he includes colleges as well as schools in his analysis. Nash sees hope in civic liberal communitarians while criticizing sectarian and postliberal perspectives that encourage a morality of conformity, a provincialism that binds individuals to ideologically restrictive groups.
According to Nash, his students see sectarian education breeding bigotry, divisiveness, and intolerance, but Nash himself sees churches capable of making a valuable social contribution by openly challenging such trends. Nash also sees sectarians making a civic contribution by stressing virtues like self-sacrifice, charity, faith and hope, citing theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christian vision, but he also takes issue with their overall attack on liberalism. Throughout the book, Nash makes it clear that he is expressing his own conviction at this time in his life, prefacing his views with phrases like "In my estimation," "I think," and "I believe." As a result of this, readers who may not agree with some or many of Nash’s assertions may nevertheless respect and be intellectually challenged by his perspectives. As he does elsewhere, the author is earnest in his effort to find both positive and negative qualities in various viewpoints, chiding civic liberals and other communitarians for not dealing with the growing accumulation of wealth and power in the U.S. and yet praising them for maintaining that the principle of individual liberty is not enough to guarantee the good life to all of us. In his list of virtues that civic liberals would convey in schools and colleges, Nash includes a sense of moderation and this virtue above all seems to be the keystone of his personal moral philosophy.
Focusing on critical pedagogy in his chapters on the liberationist initiative, Nash clearly expresses the major thrust of liberationist beliefs. He summarizes the influences on critical pedagogy, including Marxism, the Frankfurt School, educational reconstructionists, human and civil rights movements, and liberation theology. The author has a penchant for capturing the content as well as the spirit of scholars he cites. As he does with other initiatives, he considers liberationist educational goals, curriculum, and instructional methods. He is weakest on curriculum, observing that not many concrete curricular proposals for public schools and colleges are available. Nash does include an example from one English professor that consists of a rather bizarre half-page list of things a [liberationist] professor might do (p. 120). Joan Wink’s Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World (Longman, 1997) provides some better examples.
Viewing the liberationist initiative as a morality of contestation, as a virtue and as a vice, Nash notes that this is always his most controversial unit in any moral education course. Though he has not found references to morality, character, or virtue in his review of liberationist literature, Nash argues that liberationist ideology is rooted in a set of virtues. Admirable though these virtues may be, "...as currently conceived I think they are deeply flawed," he writes (p. 133). He finds them "divisive, full of revolutionary fervor, and a serious obstacle to the kind of slow, deliberative, collective decision making I believe to be necessary in a secular pluralist democracy" (p. 133). Though Nash often finds the moral indignation of liberationists like Paulo Freire inspiring, he raises many serious issues worthy of extended critical analysis and debate. He finds Patricia White’s micro vision of democracy especially appealing as an alternative to the transformative vision of liberationists.
Nash reserves his strongest criticism for liberationist language that he finds morally arrogant, itself oppressive. He drives home the point by stating that liberationists seem to be saying: "You are either a bad person or a good person, depending entirely on your skin color, gender, economic status..." (p. 140). This seems like an extreme reading of the liberationist approach since many supporters of this initiative may not be as dogmatic as Nash argues they are. He summarizes his critique by commenting that the challenge for liberationists is to continue their criticism of capitalism but to be more sensitive to the richness of all ideologies.
In the last two chapters of Answering the Virtuecrats, Nash discusses the moral conversation he has found so successful in his classes, observing that how students and professors talk about texts and ideas is as important in some respects as what they discuss. He includes the remarkable memo that he attaches to syllabi where he suggests some of the ingredients of a good moral conversation and outlines his code of ethics or civility protocols. A morality of conversation, he concludes, is my own personal alternative to the more grandiose virtue initiatives advanced by the neo-classicals, the communitarians, and the liberationists (p. 160).
Developing his postmodern alternative through cultivating the democratic dispositions, Nash draws considerably on the ideas of Richard Rorty and his postmodern commitment to conversation that needs to take place in a secular pluralist society. In Nash’s view, Rorty has much in common with John Dewey and both believe that virtue cannot be taught as a body of rules. Like Rorty, Nash opposes grand visions and master narratives (p.174) remaining something of a minimalist (p. 188) when it comes to teaching virtue.
One cannot help but wonder if this is really a time for such minimalist visions. Now, at the close of the twentieth century, perhaps this is a time for a more far reaching, radical vision of the present and the future. Is it time for a vision that is closer to the transformative liberationist perspective that incorporates both critique and possibility? Is the crisis of gross disparities between the wealthy and the poor, of racism and human exploitation, of ecological devastation so great that grander visions are in order? These and other questions are prompted by the stimulating conversation between Robert Nash and his readers in Answering the Virtuecrats, a wonderful book well worth reading and contemplating.
David R. Conrad is Professor of Education at the University of Vermont, and is on the Advisory Board of the John Dewey project.
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Through the monograph series and the web site, the John Dewey Project
staff will continue to introduce other centers and organizations that share
After attending--and being inspired by-- a global education conference in 1974 at Stanstead, Quebec just across the Vermont border, David Shiman and David Conrad, UVM Faculty in the Foundations of Education, created a center at UVM that would focus on a wide range of global issues, including peace and the prevention of war, economic and social justice, and ecological harmony.
Since the founding of the Center for World Education, these professors have kept active in the area of global and international education. David Shiman has conducted human rights education workshops in Guyana, Slovakia, Poland, Israel and the West Bank. After having lived in Africa for nearly five years before coming to UVM, he returned in 1993 on a Fulbright fellowship to South Africa. Two of his publications, The Prejudice Book and Teaching About Human Rights, have been widely used and have gone into several editions. His work with Amnesty International has been recognized internationally and he continues to offer human rights workshops in this country and abroad. David’s publications in this area have been translated into several languages.
David Conrad spent part of his first sabbatical in Japan studying peace education. After visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he became active in the nuclear disarmament movement in Vermont in the 1980s. In 1989 he visited the former Soviet Union with a delegation of children and parents who followed in the footsteps of Samantha Smith, the young peace ambassador. During his most recent sabbatical leave, Dave focused on the indigenous people and cultures of the Andes in Peru and Bolivia and studied community murals as a form of multicultural education in California. He is co-author of Global Issues of Peace and Education and has had articles and essay reviews appear in numerous journals.
Over the years, the Center has sponsored and co-sponsored numerous conferences, workshops, and courses. Both Davids created and taught a course called Teaching for Global Awareness for many years and organized a major conference at the University some years ago featuring Paulo Freire and Jonathan Kozol. In the summer of 1995, David Conrad and Paij Wadley-Bailey co-taught this course--now titled Teaching With a Global Perspective-- in conjunction with the International Educators for Peace Congress meeting for the first time in the United States.
Today the Center for World Education provides support in the area of global and multicultural education to students and faculty in teacher preparation courses through guest presentations in classes; the free loan of a wide range of curriculum materials; and consultation about issues like human rights, peace and conflict resolution, and prejudice reduction. The Center offers services to graduate students at UVM as well as to Vermont educators in elementary and secondary schools, religious institutions, and community organizations.
During the 1998-1999 academic year, the Center for World Education worked with the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education to sponsor a presentation by one of Latin America’s outstanding intellectual and grassroots activists, Gustavo Esteva from Oaxaca, Mexico. In late June, David Conrad and Gustavo Teran (Research Assistant Professor with the Dewey Project) will teach a course in Oaxaca called "Art, Culture and Education of Oaxaca" with Gustavo Esteva’s participation. Both Dr. Shiman and Dr. Conrad are on the Advisory Board of the John Dewey Project.
The Center for World Education offers an open invitation to anyone visiting Burlington to stop by the main UVM administration building --Waterman --to browse and borrow resource materials, consult with the staff, and participate in presentations sponsored or co-sponsored by the Center. We also invite you to learn more about the Center on its web site (www.uvm.edu/%7euvmcwe/hist.html). David Conrad can be reached at (802) 656-1427 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and David Shiman at (802) 656-1428 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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John Dewey: a short anecdote
A zealous school reformer, wearied by jousting with the status quo, heard about a spiritualist who was able to make contact with the dear departed. So one evening, he went to one of her seances. And when his turn came, he asked her to make contact with John Dewey.
After struggling for a while, she reached America's greatest philosopher. The reformer was thrilled. "Professor Dewey," he said, "We have labored for 15 years to improve America's schools without success. Please tell me how we can create the kinds of schools our children need and deserve?"
Dewey hesitated a moment and replied: "Well, there is the natural way and the miraculous way. Which do you want?" The reformer, his idealism faltering, asked for the natural way.
"The natural way," Dewey said, "Would be for God to send down bands of angels to visit every single public school and transform them into places of true learning."
"Good heavens," gasped the reformer. "What then is the miraculous way?"
"Ah," said Dewey, "The miraculous way would be for the people to do it themselves."
(If you have a good story about John Dewey, true or not, send it to us and we may publish it in the future!)
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