Educational Adaptations in a Changing Society: New Education networks and the diffusion of pragmatism in Africa in the 20’s and 30’s

Ana Isabel Madeira

Abstract


Educational Adaptations in a Changing Society is the final report arising from two conferences that took place, in July 1934, in Johannesburg and Cape Town, under the auspices the New Education Fellowship. These conferences addressed three fundamental questions related to the role of education in leading social change: the aim of the educational effort, the methods involved, and the content of what should be taught and when. These general concerns sought to respond to the rapid social and economic changes taking place in South Africa (and in other European colonies) at that period: urbanization, school massification, racial conflict, etc. By urging educationalists, philosophers, teachers, administrators and churchmen alike to co-operatively discuss educational reforms and pedagogical technologies adapted to the African context (vocational training, adapted curricula, rural education, moral instruction, etc.) the conference sought to create a reformist environment were the ideals of progressive educational thought intertwined neatly with the social gospel of the protestant movement. It is in this context that I propose to address Dewey’s participation in the conference, not as an individual outstanding pragmatist voice, but as a conceptual persona, who makes it possible to understand theories, ideas and visions of educational modernization as discursive constructs envisaged for the colonial terrain. I will try to tackle the question of policy transfer not as an active borrowing strategy from one context to another, but as an indigenization of concepts and ideas that are passed on by threads of broader colonial discourses and modes of colonial governance. 


Keywords


History of colonial education; educational transfer; pedagogical discourses; progressivism; pragmatism; adapted education

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14516/ete.132

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