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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

3 - Older but Not Wiser: America Industrializes and Embraces the Flawed Philosophy of Behaviorism in Education

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Summary

This chapter traces the development of education in America from the end of Reconstruction to World War II. The industrialization that characterized this period gave rise to a system of “scientific” management which prized efficiency and competition above all other factors. This in turn influenced the philosophy of behaviorism, which remains a pillar of American education. The chapter exposes the faulty premises of behaviorism and its unfortunate effects when applied in schools. In addition, the chapter examines sources as varied as the Founders’ writings and the latest neuroscientific research to critique behaviorism and endorse social constructivist pedagogy. The chapter also features a brief discussion of the outer limits imposed by the Supreme Court on the government’s ability to regulate education. The discussion includes an examination of three seminal cases: Pierce, Meyer, and Yoder.