Yesterday my kids and I had dentist appointments. They take forever and we have hours in the waiting room. I thought I might read while I was there. Last time I brought a book, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter I think it was, and talked with my dentist about her mother, the elderly Arabic reader. This time I bring John Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum, The School and Society. I have time to read only a short bit, though we are in the office two hours, as I talk with the hygenist, the dentist, and my kids, and take some time to close my eyes and rest in the chair while I am alone in the examination room, quiet in the day too good to read.

I do read the introductions, and I look at the publication dates, 1901, 1915. I begin the first chapter, and I am immediately in love. I came back to the book to see how John Dewey fits with SVS, to see how John Dewey fits with my now, and in the few short pages I wrestled with him, I found him as prescient as ever, as readable as my grandmother on her best days with me, as familiar as a friend.

Later I talk with my friend about my reading and he helps me wonder on the resonance. I think a lot about the things John Dewey writes about in his book. I wonder how much of my thinking about those things is about my history and who I am and how much of it is about what he’s written, which is in me, too, as I have returned to this book over time since I first discovered it, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, just learning about progressive education.

I had been wondering about the timing of his life and work when I was talking with Brenda Engel recently about the history of progressive education and the lives of those I’ve known or heard of, and of the schools that emerged at different times and the readings that influenced the stories as they were lived.

I’ve been wondering on all the talk about our schools needing to be revolutionized to reflect the needs of the digital age and the future, as they were developed for the Industrial Age. John Dewey starts this book with similar ideas. His life, in fact, spanned the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, yet I feel as though his ideas work now..He watched the world go from mainly agrarian to industrial, from isolated to interconnected, and he marveled at the life he saw passing and the one on the way.

My friend points out this has something to do with Jung, and I wonder on this, something about archtypes and living through shifts and transformation, noting the losses and gains. I wonder about this. Must also find out when Jung lived and wrote, see how history affected him, how he affected it.

I marvel also at the intelligence and clarity and depth of thinking and feeling in John Dewey’s work. I wonder if he attended college or was self-taught, at his own station in life and early mentors and upbringing, and I think about how ways of learning work to create intelligence, intellectualism, patterns of thought, creativity, discipline, which Dewey talks about, too, as he laments the passing of the neighborhood and family focus of life, when hard work, accountability, relevance, systemic understanding of the processes of life were integral to living and brought people along in their learning in ways school often doesn’t. Somewhere in there is the connection to SVS, is the heart of my own wondering, farm family turned wage earners, rural roots and city life, childhood world of extended family to adult network of colleagues and friends, party line to wifi and 4G connections, big changes in a short time for Dewey and me, wondering on what is lost and what is gained in living every day, as Joni Mitchell would say, best be off to prepare for the day, as always, squeeze in the writing, dump the thoughts here as efficiently as I can so as not to be late for work, which I love, but which is not solitary, and which is not a time for dumping thoughts on paper or computer, but a time for being solidly in the world.

Have a little Joni, on me and youtube, recorded before the world went digital, of course:)