SAT Subject US History Practice Question 745: Answer and Explanation
6. John Dewey and other progressive educators of the early 20th century argued that the main function of education should be to
A. create a future generation of mathematicians and scientists.
B. prevent children from getting into mischief on the streets.
C. teach children the importance of rote memory.
D. instill in children a respect for God, country, and family.
E. impart to the young the skills needed to participate in democracy.
Correct Answer: E
Dewey wanted education to move away from rote memorization and to prepare young people to be active participants in democracy. In fact, the Students for a Democratic Society cite him as an inspiration to the call for participatory democracy in the 1960s. The emphasis on science and mathematics (A) characterized Cold War initiatives of the 1950s. Progressive educators wanted education to be meaningful, not simply a means of keeping children off the street (B) and not to focus on memorization (C). Conservatives, not progressives, would want education to focus on God, country, and family (D).