January 28, 2009

Jay Greene lands on the side of John Dewey

Jay Greene points out that expertise should not trump public input on key policy issues. In this regard, he's closer to John Dewey's trust of the general community of citizens than to Walter Lippmann, who was sure that we needed a technocratic administrata ruling key matters of public policy. 

I'm on Dewey's and Greene's side, here. In 2006, I winced in the middle of Reg Weaver's main address at the National Education Association meeting in Orlando, for he was trying to denigrate expertise on one hand (with regard to educational psychologists) and then use it on the other (to raise the status of teachers). You can't do both and get away with it easily.

So maybe my best answer to DeanDad and Stanley Fish is that a liberal-arts education gives you both the general skills and also enough knowledge in multiple disciplines so that you're not easily fooled. It's not an inoculation (as all those who fell for Bernie Madoff can attest), but both republics and democracies depend on a population with sufficient education to enter into a debate about facts rather than just accept the facts that self-annointed experts have offered. Sometimes this openness to debate is disastrous, but I much prefer it to a technocracy.

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Posted in Education policy on January 28, 2009 12:27 AM |