By C. Cunningham

Writing for educators and schooling leaders, Cunningham exhibits that combining a philosophy of pragmatism with puzzling over schooling as platforms can remove darkness from demanding situations in modern education and supply functional strategies for making a democratic schooling.

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Let me emphasize this: we don’t have any experience of anything unless we interact with it. 5 Experience is the source of all our knowledge, all our memories, our values: our entire world view. Together with our genetic make-up, it is the source of ourselves. We emerge from our experiences. ) Each experience has an effect on who we are. As we go through life, we experience a succession of experiences. Each one follows on another and leads to yet another. Experience is thus continuous. For Dewey, interaction and continuity are essential features of experience (see Dewey’s Experience and Education, 1938).

It reminds us to think about everything as having a history. As we’ll see, Dewey’s attention to time gives his pragmatic naturalism an appreciation of the dynamic nature of reality that makes it especially applicable to systems. In particular, all systems are events, and are made up of events, and occur within the context of situations consisting of still other events. Temporality is an essential aspect of all systems. All systems have histories: beginnings, middles, ends. Attention to time also allows for the importance of teleological concepts that explain events in terms of what they lead to (telos) over time, such as potential, possibility, and purpose.

The difference between standards and criteria was well explained by Elliot Eisner (1995): Standards fix expectations; criteria are guidelines that enable one to search more efficiently for the qualities that might matter in any individual work . . To say that by the end of a course students will be able to write a convincing essay on the competing interests of environmentalists and industrialists that marshals good arguments supported by relevant facts is to identify criteria that can be used to appraise the essay; it is not to provide a standard for measuring it.

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