Introduction Reviews Discussion - write Discussion - read

Getting it Wrong from the Beginning:

Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget.

"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. (Book jacket.)


You may read the Introduction to the book by clicking here.

You may read reviews of the book by clicking here.

If you would like to discuss any issues raised by the book with the author, or with other readers, click here.

You may read the discussions here.

You may read the blurb from the book cover here. You don't, of course, have to take it seriously.

The dedicatee, in the background. His brother, who appears in an earlier form at the top left of this page, is in the foreground.

Who am I to stop you buying a copy of the book? Try Amazon, or Yale University Press.



Hits since Nov. 22, 2002:
From reviews

"This is an insightful, provocative, and highly readable book. . . . The book is a valuable work that makes a substantial contribution to current debates over educational theory and research. . . . General readers will find the author's argument rich, provocative, and quite likely persuasive. Specialists in education and psychology will find it one that commands their attention and compels serious reflection." Edward A. Purcell, Historian.

"This book should inspire thoughtful consideration among teachers, parents, and educational policy makers." James S. Taylor, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.

"An engagingly-written scholarly treatise. . . . What makes the book relevant to people who are interested in today's educational agenda is that Spencer's theories have been revived and repeated in almost every wave of educational reform. . . . While Getting It Wrong from the Beginning is aimed at education professionals rather than political ones, those who work with education policy could find a bit of ammunition within these pages." Diana West, National Journal.

"The most impressive evidence Egan offers is a series of quotations from Spencer that could have been plucked straight from the progressive textbooks used in education schools today."

Lynne V. Cheney. Education Next. Fall, 2003.

"Egan's forceful rejection of the progressive legacy is more about his sense of science than his politics. Spencer, Dewey and Piaget presented themselves as modern researchers with exciting new insights. Dr. Egan judges them without sympathy: he says their science was bad, and their continuing influence worse."

Peter Temes. New York Times, Section 4A, Books, p.34, 10/Nov/02.

"His rejection of some of [the] leading thinkers, especially the Victorian Herbert Spencer, is informed and well fashioned. Commentators often rely on secondary sources about those they attack. Egan dissects the original. . . . Strong on analysis." Ted Wragg, Times Educational Supplement.

"In developing his case against the "damaging bromides" of Spencer-and their steady institutionalization by Dewey and Kilpatrick in teachers' colleges and K-12 public schools-Egan looks carefully at the real effects of "child-centered" education, psychological "developmentalism," and what he usefully calls the "biologized view of mind" that changed curricula all over the Anglo-American world from commonsense transmitters of the cultural achievements of mankind to present-minded, experimental, experiential, naturalistic, and unchallenging approaches."

M.D. Aeschliman. National Review, May 5th.2003.

The book has a wonderful centering effect when superimposed on the cacophony, muffling all the bickering and drawing the reader into a marvellously focused consideration of the one thing that really matters in education: do educators really know what they're doing with our kids?
Egan asserts that they basically don't. And he presents a pretty good argument to support his thesis that all the major theorists in education for the past 150 years have been wrong about how kids learn, and that much of curricular design and teaching methodology, which are based on those flawed theories, is unsuccessful


Karin Litzcke. The Republic. March 20th. 2003.

Return to Home Page