1st Edition

Practicing Pragmatism through Progressive Pedagogies A Philosophical Lens for Grounding Classroom Teaching and Research

By Susan Jean Mayer Copyright 2024

    This book contributes to the contemporary revival of pragmatism as a practical and ultimately, as Mayer argues, necessary philosophical stance within democratic schools. Given that pragmatism addresses the question of how people can move forward in the absence of transcendent Truth, the author shows how pragmatism also—and not incidentally—provides grounds for pluralistic democratic societies to move forward in the absence of shared belief systems.

    Weaving together philosophical analysis and classroom discourse research, Mayer explores the relationships among pragmatism, progressive educational theory, and democratic knowledge construction processes and their implications for enacting progressive educational practices in schools. Several original, research-based heuristics that can serve in reliably identifying, studying, and orchestrating distinctively democratic knowledge construction processes are presented. The importance of granting all students a share of interpretive authority is also emphasized. For in learning to observe and reflect on one’s own terms, attend closely to the observations and interpretations of one’s peers, and reason collaboratively in a transparent and principled manner, young people are enculturated into essential democratic values, commitments, and practices.

    This book is written for a general audience and is intended for all those concerned with strengthening the democratic character of schools and societies. It is likely to appeal to scholars, researchers, and practitioners with interests in philosophy and classroom discourse and curriculum studies, as well as philosophers of education and the social sciences more broadly.

    1. A Simple Intuition  2. Pragmatic Ways and Means  3. The Collaborative Construction of Pragmatic Understandings 4. Developing Pragmatic Capacity  5. Achieving a Pragmatic Pluralism


    Susan Mayer has studied progressive classroom practice as a teacher, teacher educator, and classroom researcher. In her scholarship, she combines pragmatism, classroom discourse research, and developmental learning theory in order to theorize the aims and character of distinctively democratic pedagogical practices.

    Susan Mayer has written that rare book that combines first rate scholarship with practical classroom application. She updates pragmatism and progressive pedagogy for the twenty-first century. Written with a light touch for the general educational audience, the book nonetheless provides original and valuable insights for philosophical specialists. —Jim Garrison, Virginia Tech.

    Mayer animates philosophical issues by centering her FDE framework: a conceptual and analytical lens into progressive pedagogy. In highlighting the roles that teachers and students assume in the framing of investigative questions and the developing and evaluating of responsive ideas, Mayer also informs questions at the heart of teaching and learning. ––Catherine O’Connor, Boston University