Some People Just Don’t Give Up
Professor Douglas J. Simpson (Helen DeVitt Jones Chair of Teacher Education) is one of those people who
does not seem to know how to quit. Approximately fifteen years ago at another university, he developed plans to edit a book of educational writing by John Dewey (1859-1952), the United States’ most celebrated educational theorist. Simpson’s challenge was to do extensive research on Dewey’s philosophy, read roughly 700 of his articles, classify them according to thematic emphases, select 32 for publication, and write a general historical introduction and five interpretative essays for the anticipated book. Plans were frequently slowed but never abandoned.
Scroll forward to 2010. Southern Illinois University Press just released this book entitled Teachers, Leaders and Schools: Essays by John Dewey. Between 1995 and the book’s publication, Simpson kept reading essays, doing research, and selecting and rejecting potential essays. He also took time to author or co-author six other books, three on Dewey’s ideas about teaching, curriculum, and educational reform.
In 2002 when Simpson joined the TTU College of Education faculty as the first Helen DeVitt Jones Chair of Teacher Education, he was able to focus more on research and writing. Several years later, he invited Sam F. Stack, Jr., a noted historian and professor of education, West Virginia University, to join him to complete the Dewey project.
In addition to a host of anonymous and identified reviewers, he asked seven past and current College of Education graduate students—Raymond Flores, Heejin Son, Penny Pollart, Aron Strickland, William Hull, Jr., Xiaoming Liu, and Jing Wang—to read tentative selections, evaluate their value for contemporary educators, and provide criticisms of his and Stack’s introductory essays.
The five major themes and sections of the book that emerged introduce aspiring and practicing educators to Dewey’s ideas regarding the classroom teacher, the school curriculum, the educational leader, the ideal school, and the democratic society. The book introduces readers to an understanding of why Dewey’s questions and reflections are relevant today.
Antony Hare, a Canadian Private Illustrator, well known in Canadian circles, was selected to create the cover illustration of Dewey.
Larry A. Hickman, Director of the Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University, calls the book “the best available collection” of educational writings by Dewey.
Barbara Stengel, Vanderbilt University, commends the work saying, “Reading Dewey with Simpson and Stack is guaranteed to revitalize anyone’s educational viewpoint.”