Of Note: A Crucial Intersection, Then and Now
A companion to John Dewey's Democracy and Education by D. C. Phillips
University of Chicago Press; December 1, 2016
Some books stand the test of time. One hundred years after its publication, John Dewey’s Democracy and Education continues to inform, incite, challenge, and inspire. Now, in a perfectly timely and needed way, comes a book to accompany Dewey’s thinking as it moves through the 21st Century. In his 2016 A Companion to John Dewey’s Democracy and Education, Stanford professor D. J. Phillips does two things to give a beloved but often challenging text a current context. First, he makes excellent use of relevant, brilliantly illustrative examples from schools today that show what Dewey meant when he said that his purpose was “to state the ideas implied in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise of education.” Second, Phillips is clear and just personal enough to make the reader feel at home in the book, but he never strays far from Dewey’s text. Though he addresses head on, and often with humor and strong critique, some of the density of Dewey’s writing in Democracy and Education, he is also sympathetic to the message and meaning of Dewey’s work. This is not a watering down, nor a paraphrase of Dewey, but a welcome elucidation of a foundational book that advanced the principles of equity and justice in our schools and our society. Dewey articulates the potential of schools in a way that we cannot avoid. Phillip’s book is a respectful, renewing, and urgently relevant revisit of how, where, and why democracy and education share a crucial intersection.