The Appropriation of Dewey’s Pedagogy in Colombia as a Cultural Event

  • Javier Sáenz-Obregón


The chapter focuses on the discursive, institutional, and public policy appropriations of Dewey’s pedagogy in Colombia in the first half of the last century. I analyze the cultural factors that explain its selective appropriation during this period. I also examine the national, political, and pedagogical context that, till 1934, tended to exclude Deweyan pedagogy, while appropriating enthusiastically the concepts and prescriptions of the European New School or Active Pedagogy movement. I also describe the power/knowledge transformations that, between 1934 and 1946 led to the appropriation of the social and political dimension of Dewey’s pedagogy by teacher-training institutions and government policy. The nature of national, political, and cultural resistance to Deweyan pedagogy is analyzed in some detail, such as the power of Catholic dogma in the country, and the widely-held belief on the degeneration of the national race. I argue that the dualist structure of Catholic thought was particularly adverse to Deweyan pedagogy. I conclude that Dewey’s tenuous welcome as a foreign guest, have gone hand in hand with brief periods of consolidation of democratic practices in the country, and have been more decisive when faith in democracy has been intensified.


Active Pedagogy Educational Reform Political Violence Poor Population Liberal Party 
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© Thomas S. Popkewitz 2005

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  • Javier Sáenz-Obregón

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