Getting It Wrong from the Beginning

Our Progressivist Inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget

Kieran Egan

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July 11, 2004
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300105100
Paper

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The ideas upon which public education was founded in the last half of the nineteenth century were wrong. And despite their continued dominance in educational thinking for a century and a half, these ideas are no more right today. So argues one of the most original and highly regarded educational theorists of our time in Getting It Wrong from the Beginning. Kieran Egan explains how we have come to take mistaken concepts about education for granted and why this dooms our attempts at educational reform.

Egan traces the nineteenth-century sources of Progressive thinking about education and their persistence even now. He diagnoses the problem with our schools in a radically different way, and likewise prescribes novel alternatives to present educational practice. His book is both persuasive and full of promise—a book that belongs on the must-read list for anyone who cares about the success of our schools. 

Kieran Egan is professor of education at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. A recipient of the Grawemeyer Award in Education, he is also author of the best-selling book The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding and many other books and articles about education.

“As we have come to expect from Kieran Egan, this book is full of brilliant insights. He has a great gift for posing fundamental, yet non-obvious, questions in such a way that we find some of our most deeply held assumptions up for grabs.”—James Wertsch, Washington University

“This book should inspire thoughtful consideration among teachers, parents, and educational policy makers.”—James S. Taylor, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies


"An engagingly-written scholarly treatise. . . . What makes the book relevant to people who are interested in today’s educational agenda is that Spencer’s theories have been revived and repeated in almost every wave of educational reform. . . . While Getting It Wrong from the Beginning is aimed at education professionals rather than political ones, those who work with education policy could find a bit of ammunition within these pages."—Diana West, National Journal

"His rejection of some of [the] leading thinkers, especially the Victorian Herbert Spencer, is informed and well fashioned. Commentators often rely on secondary sources about those they attack. Egan dissects the original. . . . Strong on analysis."—Ted Wragg, Times Educational Supplement


"This is an insightful, provocative, and highly readable book. . . . The book is a valuable work that makes a substantial contribution to current debates over educational theory and research. . . . General readers will find the author's argument rich, provocative, and quite likely persuasive. Specialists in education and psychology will find it one that commands their attention and compels serious reflection."—Edward A. Purcell, Historian

 

 

The Future of Education

Reimagining Our Schools from the Ground Up

Kieran Egan

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