Growth and Resistance: How Deweyan Pragmatism Reconstructs Social Justice Education

Educational Theory 66 (1-2):231-244 (2016)


While Democracy and Education is often cited within the scholarship on and teaching of social justice education, it and Dewey's work generally remain underutilized. Peter Nelsen argues in this essay that Deweyan pragmatism offers rich resources for social justice education by exploring how Dewey's three-part conception of growth has both analytical and normative force. Nelsen makes this case by examining student resistance to engagement with social justice issues, and concludes from this analysis that resistance is an opportunity for growth. Furthermore, rather than being a precursor to critical engagement with ideas, Nelsen contends that creating collaborative environments that foster interdependence across group memberships might be as important as the critical engagement itself.

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Peter Nelsen
Appalachian State University

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