Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 239–245 | Cite as

The educational situation in Utopia: why what is, is

  • Jayson Seaman
  • John Quay


In this response to Molly Ware’s review of our 2013 book, John Dewey and Education Outdoors, we extend her suggestion that complexity be regarded as an important, generative force in education reform. Drawing on Dewey’s 1933 Utopian Schools speech, we discuss the “level deeper” that Dewey sought as he criticized the method/subject mater dichotomy, which he saw as an artifact of social class carried forward in the form of a curricular debate rather than a natural source of tension that would be productive to democratic education. Dewey radically argued that learning itself contained similar anti-democratic potential. Eschewing the false child versus curriculum dichotomy, Dewey believed complexity as a catalyst for educational action would be achieved by engaging children in historically formed occupations, harnessing the forces that drive technological and cultural evolution in order to spur interest, effort, and the formation of social attitudes among students. Following Ware, we suggest that reformers should seek to understand at a lever deeper the many sources of complexity they encounter as they both challenge and honor what is.


John Dewey Outdoor education Curriculum theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Outdoor Education, Department of KinesiologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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