What is it and why does it matter?
My secondary school in Australia is just climbing out of a lost decade because we had poor leadership which fell for all the student-centered inquiry based learning bullshit that was in the ether as you said. We have an inspiring Aboriginal leader by the name of Noel Pearson, who has been scathing about this sort of thing for several years now, pointing out that it is the last thing his people need and he has led the way in demonstrating that explicit instruction and the teaching of phonics has the evidence behind it, especially for the people on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, the supposed beneficiaries of all the progressive nonsense.
Excellent post. A favorite quote on Dewey comes from Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1964): "In his last significant statement on education (1952), Dewey reminded progressive educators, once again and for the last time, that its the right method of training which forms the character of teachers and not the subject matter or the rules they are taught. Pursue the right methods, and a democratic society might yet be created; follow the ‘authoritarian principle’ and education will be fit only to ‘pervert and destroy the foundations of a democratic society.’ And so the quest for a method of institutionalizing the proper anti-institutional methods goes on.”
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1964)
Planet of the AAPE