Multisubculturalism: Computers and the End of Progressive Education

WCER Working Paper No. 2005-5

David Williamson Shaffer

August 2005, 22 pp.

ABSTRACT: Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In this paper, I propose a model for progressive multicultural education in the computer age. I begin by describing the Pragmatic Progressive model of learning implicit in Dewey’s writing on education. I then discuss two revisions to the model in light of technological developments and theoretical work over the last few decades. Taken together, these revisions suggest that we might profitably revisit—and revise—Dewey’s ideas in the postindustrial era. I bring these ideas together to describe a theory of pedagogical praxis that offers an opportunity to move from multiculturalism to multisubculturalism: a view of education that focuses on diverse educational goals rather than diverse pathways to a single pedagogical end—and thus a view of learning better suited to the diverse ways of thinking and living that characterize our increasingly integrated world.

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keywords: Learning; Epistemic Frames; John Dewey; Pedagogical Praxis; Computers in Education