Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bogenschild, Erika G.

Second Advisor

Hay, Robert

Third Advisor

Platz, Donald


Philosophy in contemporary society is often viewed as a speculative waste of time. However, each person has a personal understanding of the nature of reality, truth, and goodness. But philosophy cannot be viewed as merely a personal, subjective matter. If one's philosophical horizon is to be considered valid, it must be based on reality, not fantasy, and it must be reasonable to other people. This study is built upon the researcher's belief that good teaching is the result of a society, in the person of the teacher, sharing with its young that which it holds as real, true, and good. Educational philosophy as a foundation of education is often neglected under the guise of its theoretical nature and Jack of relevance to any "real educational issues." However, the issues which educational philosophy raises hit at the heart of the "real educational issues." As Tanner and Tanner state, "The curriculum is the test of the philosophy in operation." Curriculum decisions are often made in a vacuum. The immediacy of the classroom often supersedes reflection and research about practice from either a historical or philosophical perspective. The rhetoric of the educational reform movements of the 1980s and 1990s bear a remarkable resemblance to that of the educational reform movements of the 1890s through the 1920s. Unfortunately, today's reformers do not always grasp, or care about, the reform movements from the earlier period. John Dewey's name is synonymous with American education and its reform at the beginning of the twentieth century. If one were to read his commentary on the educational issues which he confronted in the 1890s, it would seem that he was describing the situation in the 1990s. What happened to Dewey's reform which was based upon his educational philosophy? The goal of this dissertation has been to look at how the educational philosophy of John Dewey impacted the curricular practice of the elementary program at the Laboratory School of the University of Chicago in the years immediately following his departure from the University of Chicago. The intent has been to determine the philosophical foundation which fanned the base of the Laboratory School's curriculum from 1905 through 1928. What follows is the result of this study.



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