It is through this “myth” that I constructed the imagery of an adult literacy laboratory/research center as the ultimate focal point, what Dewey refers to as an “ends-in-view” toward which I aimed as a personal symbol in shaping the direction of the Bob Steele Reading Center. This directional vision (far from realized) influenced the program as a whole, although not exactly as I envisioned it in my more utopian moments. Throughout my tenure, I was less interested in achievements per se than that the created learning climate stimulated maximum growth at each moment in the program’s life in relation to student learning and organizational development. In Dewey’s terms I sought, clearly as an imaginative ideal, the extraction “at each present time” within the various phases of the life cycle of the program, “the full meaning of each present experience” as “the only preparation which in the long run amounts to anything” (Dewey, 1938, p. 49). My desire to stimulate a learning and organizational climate propelled by streams of continuous growth was fortified by my reading of Dewey. On his account:
[T]he ideal of growth results in the conception that education is a constant reorganizing or reconstructing of experience. It has all the time an immediate end, and so far as activity is educative, it reaches that end— the direct transformation of the quality of experience, and in the sense that its chief business of life at every point to make living thus contribute to an enrichment of its own perceptible meaning (Dewey, 1916/1944, p. 76).
The learning climate of the Center during my administration proved more ambiguously shaped than this Deweyan vision. Nonetheless, the vision as an operative ideal provided what seemed like a coherent course of direction that linked my internalization of the “lived experience” of the program with an underlying philosophical rational that promised the realization of a powerful praxeology. Although I would later realize considerably more tension in this vision than I originally perceived, it nonetheless unleashed creative heuristic energies that sparked the program’s innovations described below. The vision as I conceived it may be summarized thusly:
The essential...idea of education as continuous reconstruction... is that it identifies the end (the result) and the process..... It means that experience as an active process occupies time and its latter period completes its earlier portion; it brings to light connections involved, but hitherto unperceived. The later outcome thus reveals the meaning of the earlier, while the experience as a whole establishes a bent or disposition toward the things possessing the meaning. Every such continuous experience or activity is educative, and all education resides in having such experiences (p. 78).
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