moral education, character education, moral behavior, pedagogy, character, educational philosophy




Many conservatives, including some conservative scholars, blame the ideas and influence of John Dewey for what has frequently been called a crisis of character, a catastrophic decline in moral behavior in the schools and society of North America. Dewey’s critics claim that he is responsible for the undermining of the kinds of instruction that could lead to the development of character and the strengthening of the will, and that his educational philosophy and example exert a ubiquitous and disastrous influence on students’ conceptions of moral behavior. This article sets forth the views of some of these critics and juxtaposes them with what Dewey actually believed and wrote regarding character education. The juxtaposition demonstrates that Dewey neither called for nor exemplified the kinds of character-eroding pedagogy his critics accuse him of championing; in addition, this paper highlights the ways in which Dewey argued consistently and convincingly that the pedagogical approaches advocated by his critics are the real culprits in the decline of character and moral education.

Original Citation

White, B. (2015). Scapegoat: John Dewey and the character education crisis. Journal of Moral Education, 44(2), 127-144.

Included in

Education Commons