Developmentalism: An obscure but pervasive restriction on educational improvement

John E. Stone, Rick Garlikov, Les McLean, Sherman Dorn, Benjamin Levin, Aimee Howley, Larry Phillips, Don Tinkler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite continuing criticism of public education, experimentally demonstrated and field tested teaching methods have been ignored, rejected, and abandoned. Instead of a stable consensus regarding best teaching practices, there seems only an unending succession of innovations. A longstanding educational doctrine appears to underlie this anomalous state of affairs. Termed developmentalism, it presumes "natural" ontogenesis to be optimal and it requires experimentally demonstrated teaching practices to overcome a presumption that they interfere with an optimal developmental trajectory. It also discourages teachers and parents from asserting themselves with children. Instead of effective interventions, it seeks the preservation of a postulated natural perfection. Developmentalism's rich history is expressed in a literature extending over 400 years. Its notable exponents include Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget; and its most recent expressions include "developmentally appropriate practice" and "constructivism." In the years during which it gained ascendance, developmentalism served as a basis for rejecting harsh and inhumane teaching methods. Today it impedes efforts to hold schools accountable for student academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-89
Number of pages89
JournalEducation Policy Analysis Archives
Volume4
StatePublished - Apr 21 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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  • Cite this

    Stone, J. E., Garlikov, R., McLean, L., Dorn, S., Levin, B., Howley, A., Phillips, L., & Tinkler, D. (1996). Developmentalism: An obscure but pervasive restriction on educational improvement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 4, 1-89.