home was no longer educating children in the way it had in
the past, but he gave them good counsel. “We cannot overlook
the factors of discipline and of character building involved . . .
but it is useless to bemoan the departure of the good old days
of children’s modesty, reverence, and implicit obedience, if
we expect merely by bemoaning and by exhortation to bring
them back” (Dewey 1899, 19, 21).
What Dewey was trying to get his parent group to under-
stand was that change brings new problems but also new
opportunities. He urged parents to think of new ways they
could all find to help children learn to be socially responsible
people, without trying to cling to times gone by.
At the end of the next century, teachers were struggling
with the very same issues. In Dewey’s Laboratory School:
Lessons for Today, Laurel Tanner (1997) points out that a cen-
tury ago Dewey asked the questions we still seek answers to
in the twenty-first century: How do we best introduce chil-
dren to subject matter? Should we have multiage classrooms?
How can we best plan curriculum? How can supervisors
support classroom teachers? How should thinking skills be
taught? Significant answers to these and similar questions
about teaching can be found in Dewey’s many volumes.
Dewey’s work is echoed in the writing of many contemporary
educational theorists. As we speak today of dispositions for
learning, purposeful curricula, shaping experiences through
well-planned environments, and many other theoretical and
practical conditions of teaching, we are discussing the issues
that interested Dewey and that he wrote and talked about.
Dewey played a central role in the development of—and is
most associated with—the progressive education movement
in the United States. In Europe, Maria Montessori and Jean
Piaget were spreading the same message. These early theo-
rists all agreed that children learn from doing and that edu-
cation should involve real-life material and experiences and
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