John Dewey's "Democracy and Education" 100 Years On: Past, Present, and Future Relevance

On the 28th September, a four day conference commenced at Homerton to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of John Dewey's seminal book and introduction to the Philosophy of Education, entitled 'Democracy and Education'. The book argues that democracy is a necessary way of living together, to protect the individual and to maintain social equity. The book's publication in 1916 was designed to promote a philosophy of education to meet the needs of a changing society, based on a social-interactionist theory of knowledge.

In attendance were delegates from 25 different countries including Dewey scholars and a number of key Professors, philosophers and historians from the US.  Just under 150 people attended with over 100 people presenting full or ‘in progress’ research papers. Also in attendance were school students from Bow in London (12 year olds) and from Spain (17 year olds) who came especially to demonstrate the practice of 'Philosophy for Children' which has grown out of Dewey's educational ideas. A teacher, Shameila Davids, reported that:

The students found it to be a really valuable, once in a lifetime experience.

Chair of the Steering Committee, who organised the conference during its 4 years of planning, was Homerton Fellow, Christine Doddington. Other members of the committee included Professor Gert Biesta, Brunel University; Professor Richard Pring, University of Oxford; Professor Gonzalo Jover, University of Madrid; Dr. Ruth Heilbronn, UCL Institute of Education; Dr Cathy Burke, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge; Dr Rupert Higham, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge; Dr Peter Cunningham, an Emeritus Fellow at Homerton College.

The Principal, Professor Geoff Ward, gave a warm review of his personal experience at the conference, and by all accounts it was a great success with many delegates remarking on how highly enjoyable and stimulating the conference had been. The mix of rigorous theoretical and academic perspectives and that of professional educational practise was particularly praised.

Thank you for such a wonderful conference. It was a distinct honor and pleasure to commune with and present to the scholars there.

 -  Jonathan Sallee

It was a great opportunity for me to learn and share ideas with others. This is one of the most outstanding conferences I have ever attended. Many thanks.

- Valentine Ngalim