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[Xmca-l] Re: good article attached

I share your reservations, Michael.

I'm sure it is possible to trace elements of racist recapitulationist thinking in the work of nineteenth and early twentieth century educationalists but I don't think it is accurate to suggest that recapitulationism was in any way at the heart of the romantic view of childhood which fuelled arguments for child-centred pedagogy. As the article points out, Rousseau put the 'noble savage' above the hyper-civilised white European male of the eighteenth century with his powdered wig, elaborate finery and obsessive concern for social niceties. The cultural shift from thinking of childhood as a 'savage' stage out of which children should be educated as quickly as possible to an exalted, prelapsarian state of innocence coincided with a growth of political radicalism which challenged the right of those with power to rule over the lives of others. The celebration of the 'inner child' by romantic poets at the start of the nineteenth century specifically challenged the idea that adulthood should supplant and displace childhood (as recapitulationism would suggest).

It may be true that 'progressive' education does not miraculously repair the manifold injustice of social structures but to take this as an indication that the fault lies with progressive education seems wrongheaded to me.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Glassman, Michael
Sent: 09 February 2015 17:19
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: good article attached

I don't know Peter.  This article strikes me as being very political.  It fits very much into the narrative that more progressive education initiatives work against the interests of (economically, politically, and educationally) marginalized groups.  That's why we need KIPP type schools.  I have just never brought into this.  I think the article is really not that fair to Dewey.  Dewey had his warts, including when it came to issues such as multiculturalism and he was called out on it.  But I think it's pretty clear that he did not like Hall at all or his recapitulationist ideas - this may be too simplistic but I sort of remember Hall and Dewey struggling for the soul of Franz Boas in this arena.  Dewey's desire to merge psychological factors - which were more behavior related (see reflect arc article) and the social I think was the opposite of embracing recapitualationism.  And the author relies mostly on recollections from the school and the teachers and not Dewey.

Just my take.

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] on behalf of Peter Smagorinsky [smago@uga.edu]
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2015 11:54 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture,     Activity (xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu)
Cc: cori jakubiak
Subject: [Xmca-l]  good article attached

The Savage Origins of Child-Centered Pedagogy, 1871-1913 Thomas Fallace William Paterson University of New Jersey

Abstract: Child-centered pedagogy is at the ideological core of progressive education. The simple idea that the child rather than the teacher or textbook should be the major focus of the classroom is, perhaps, the single most enduring educational idea of the era. In this historical study, the author argues that childcentered education emerged directly from the theory of recapitulation, the idea that the development of the White child retraced the history of the human race. The theory of recapitulation was pervasive in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychology at the turn of the 20th century, and so early progressive educators uncritically adopted the basic tenets of the theory, which served as a major rationale for child-centered instruction. The theory was inherently ethnocentric and racist because it pointed to the West as the developmental endpoint of history, thereby depicting people of color as ontologically less developed than their White counterparts.


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