Getting It Wrong from the Beginning Our Progressivist Inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget Kieran Egan

Publication date:
11 Jul 2004
Yale University Press
224 pages: 210 x 140mm


The ideas upon which public education was founded in the last half of the nineteenth century were wrong. And despite their continued dominance in educational thinking for a century and a half, these ideas are no more right today. So argues one of the most original and highly regarded educational theorists of our time in Getting It Wrong from the Beginning. Kieran Egan explains how we have come to take mistaken concepts about education for granted and why this dooms our attempts at educational reform.

Egan traces the nineteenth-century sources of Progressive thinking about education and their persistence even now. He diagnoses the problem with our schools in a radically different way, and likewise prescribes novel alternatives to present educational practice. His book is both persuasive and full of promise—a book that belongs on the must-read list for anyone who cares about the success of our schools. 

Kieran Egan is professor of education at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. A recipient of the Grawemeyer Award in Education, he is also author of the best-selling book The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding and many other books and articles about education.

One of the most highly regarded educational theorists of our time explains that the ideas upon which public education was founded—and which continue to dominate our educational thinking—are wrong. Kieran Egan diagnoses our school problems in a radically different way, shows why our attempts at reform are doomed, and offers promising, novel alternatives.

“As we have come to expect from Kieran Egan, this book is full of brilliant insights. He has a great gift for posing fundamental, yet non-obvious, questions in such a way that we find some of our most deeply held assumptions up for grabs.”—James Wertsch, Washington University