Getting It Wrong From The Beginning Summary

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Book Review: Getting it Wrong from the Beginning
Jane Doe
Jane Doe University Egan, K. (2002). Getting it wrong from the beginning: Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
The 21st century is a time of constant social change, increasing global communication and interconnectivity, demographic shifts in populations as well as global economic shifts in power. Although the world is changing rapidly, educational philosophies maintain strong foundations in progressive perspectives offered a century ago. The progressivist theories of Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget on learning and development continue to dominate in education today. They are so entrenched
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Progressivist theory of education can be inherently racist, value-laden, and like lacking in authentic scientific analysis.
Egan begins his book with an overview of the influence, life, and reputation of Herbert Spencer. Spencer introduced theories at a time when public schools were formed and positioned his ideas as scientific hypotheses. Egan begins his perspectives on progressivm by establishing Spencer as the foundation for progressivist thinking and practices. Spencer’s work significantly influenced education practices in the 20th century as well as the theoretical perspectives of future educational philosophers. Spencer’s seven educational principles could be found in the past and present educational practices. Spencer’s seventh educational principle focused on recapitulation. Recapitulation explained that all children acquire knowledge in the same order and that knowledge should not be introduced until the child is ready. Assuming that all children developed in a linear process, like a plant grows in nature, was short sighted at the very least and dangerous in its racist implications at its core.
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This approach analyzed the behaviour of children in terms of adult behaviour. Dewey’s and Piaget’s works significantly influenced ‘when’ curriculum is introduced to students at early ages. Egan challenges that the human mind is complex, different from nature, and children influenced by socialization. It seemed improbable to Egan to view the mind as an organ and then feeding the mind with knowledge as food “…to see the knowledge we accumulate as supporting psychological development as food supports physical growth seemed equally implausible” (p.

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