‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍John ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Dewey

(October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952)
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Dewey on Education
“Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” John Dewey

“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.” John Dewey, “Democracy and Education`

John Dewey was a philosopher and psychologist, whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. John Dewey is associated with many educational theories, including constructivism, however his main developments were in the field of progressive and experiential education highly influence by the philosophy of pragmatism.
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory.
Experiential Educationis focused on the process of learning by constructing meanings from direct experiences. As Artistotle said: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them". (Jean Piaget also has his contributions to Experiential Education)
Progressive Education is the alternative to the traditional curriculum of 19th century and is based on the ideas of Experiential Education.
Most Progressive Education programs have the following qualities in common:
  • Emphasis on learning by doing – hands-on projects, expeditionary learning, experiential learning
  • Integrated curriculum focused on thematic units
  • Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking
  • Group work and development of social skills
  • Understanding and action as the goals of learning as opposed to rote knowledge
  • Collaborative and cooperative learning projects
  • Education for social responsibility and democracy
  • Integration of community service and service learning projects into the daily curriculum
  • Selection of subject content by looking forward to ask what skills will be needed in future society
  • De-emphasis on textbooks in favor of varied learning resources
  • Emphasis on life-long learning and social skills
  • Assessment by evaluation of child’s projects and production

Reflect on these qualities and cite examples of progressive education that you have experienced in your own learning or teaching experience.

Dewey was concerned that the curriculum provided at school was mainly focused on the subject matter to be taught and students had a very passive role. In addition he saw dangers of formal education as widening the gap between school learning and knowledge acquired by direct experience.

Big Ideas
One of the Dewey’s main ideas is that education and learning are social and interactive processes, and thus the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place. Dewey didn’t agree with one-way delivery style of authoritarian schooling, because it does not provide a good model for life in democratic society. Instead, students need educational experiences which enable them to become valued, equal, and responsible members of society.He believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning. Dewey said that an educator must take into account the unique differences between each student. Each person is different genetically and in terms of past experiences. Even when a standard curriculum is presented using established pedagogical methods, each student will have a different quality of experience. Thus, teaching and curriculum must be designed in ways that allow for such individual differences.
  1. Education has the task to direct, control or guide.
  2. Education is the continuous process of growth
  3. To judge education, you must understand societies.
  4. Fostering thinking is the task of education
  5. In informal education, subject matter happens as part of life. Formal education covers what is not picked up in everyday life
  6. The ideal of growth results in a conception of education as a constant reconstructing experience

The school itself must be a reflection of the community life with all its social characteristics, to allow students to develop shared common experiences. Instead of a school set apart from life as a place for learning lessons, there should be a miniature social group in which study and growth are incidents of present shared experience: “Playgrounds, shops, workrooms, laboratories not only direct the natural active tendencies of youth but they involve intercourse, communication, and cooperation, all extending the perception of connections.”
  1. Schooling must provide genuine 1st-hand experience.
  2. School should seek ideas (unfinished) not facts (finished) and great way to do this by conducting action research

Dewey believed that learning should include “plays, games, and constructive occupations,” It has been proven that when they are incorporated into the curriculum, the student is more engaged in what he is doing. This causes the artificial division between school and life to become bridged. For example, if children read about how seeds grow in a textbook, they will not understand the multiple processes involved in plant growing. On the other hand, if they actually plant seeds and watch them grow and die and help keep them alive by watering them, they are experiencing how plants grow and not just learning about it. A change in lifestyle and materials available to our society has changed the importance of having games, play and “active occupations” in the school curriculum
  1. When kids use their natural impulses, school is better.
  2. Learning is by-product of work and play.
  3. Making ready-made models does not help judgment and perception, the creative and constructive attitude is more important.
  4. Raw (unformatted) materials help kids gain a more genuine knowledge.
  5. Kids should learn how to use tools as they use them.
  6. Subject matter belongs to life, not just the classroom, and it has social ends.
  7. Educational situations should present new but familiar
  8. Thinking occurs when things are uncertain
“The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influences: (p. 9).Thus the teacher becomes a partner in the learning process, guiding students to independently discover meaning within the subject area. This philosophy has become an increasingly popular idea within present-day teacher preparatory programs.
Educator must use work and play toward intellectual results and socialized disposition

John Dewey, “Democracy and Education”