John Dewey: An Introduction to His Life and Work With Larry Hickman, Ph.D.
Institutional DVD price: $ 250.00
John Dewey wrote extensively about philosophy, psychology, education, political science, and the arts. In his very full 92 years of life (1859-1952), he not only wrote about the breadth of life, he participated in it as a teacher, social critic, political activist and involved family man. This fully produced video introduces students to his philosophy and his critical studies of education, the arts and the implications of democracy for the lives of individuals and their communities.
Dewey lived in a different era of history than we do, but many of his concerns are very relevant to life today. Maintaining a democracy in the face of diverse ethnic values, educating the young to participate fully in the life of their community, and expanding individual perceptions through participation in the arts were among the issues he examined.
Contemporary examples of the influence of his work include film sequences of noted educator Deborah Meier's Mission Hill School in Roxbury, Massachusetts; commentary by literature authority Louise Rosenblatt on Dewey's theories of democratic behavior and philosopher Larry Hickman's comments on the ways technology changes our experiencing of the world. (Dr. Hickman is also the director of the Center for Dewey Studies in Illinois.) Terminology and the historical context necessary for understanding Dewey's work are provided by historical materials, newly shot visuals and clever graphics.
"I have just finished viewing Frances W. Davidson’s production of John Dewey: His Life and Work. It is an impressive piece, which contracts a large amount of well-organized information and insight into an amazingly brief span. Well produced and well narrated, the film holds the readers’ attention without loudly demanding it. It is not another dry educational video. It provides a clear and concise introduction to the core ideas of Dewey’s philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy suitable for high school students and above. At the same time, the Deweyan scholar may benefit by seeing the architectonic of Dewey’s thought presented in such a compact synthesis.
"The narrator organizes the components of Dewey’s thought around major three themes: His analysis of Human Learning, Truth as Process, and Faith in Democracy. These are briefly, yet skillfully explained. The narrator also introduces such influential ideas, among others, as pragmatism, the advent of technology and Darwinianism. The impact on his work of personal commitments such as social justice, diversity, and possibility are also included. Toward the end, the narrator weaves in threads of Dewey’s aesthetics so tightly it almost becomes a fourth, and unifying, theme, something those who know Dewey’s work well will appreciate.
"Educators such as I will appreciate cameo performance by leaders in the field as Debra Meier and Louise Rosenblatt among others provide fresh faces. It is pleasing to see them discussing Dewey’s analysis of learning (Meier) and democracy (Rosenblatt) in ways that do not narrowly confine them. That so many faces are those of children passionately engaged in personally meaningful activities conveys the feeling of Dewey thinking about education, not just its intellectual content, thereby providing the viewer with a demonstration of Dewey’s insistence on the unity of feeling, thought, and action.
"This production saw the faces of its anticipated audience from beginning to end. The producer and narrator engage the viewers without pretense or self-consciousness. They seem to realize they have a great story to tell, so they just tell it without getting the use of needless dramatic ploys and props. I recommend having your library purchase a copy of this video soon. It does in 41 minutes what I have spent hours trying to do in my classes.”
-- Jim Garrison, Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Mr. Garrison is a co-editor of Constructivism and Education, published in 1998 by Cambridge University, and author of Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and Desire in the Art of Teaching, published in 1997 by Teachers College Press.
2002: CINE Golden Eagle Award