Back To CourseFoundations of Education: Help and Review
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Theresa has taught college Writing for 15 years and is two classes from completing a doctorate in Education
John Dewey was born in Vermont in 1859. He was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer who has long been considered one of the founders of a theory he referred to as instrumentalism, also called pragmatism. Instrumentalists believed that in order to be considered correct a theory must be successfully applied. In other words, instrumentalism is a belief that practice and theory are linked. Dewey applied his pragmatic beliefs to education, and his ideas forever changed the landscape of education. His impact even earned him the name 'The Modern Father of Experiential Education.'
Dewey's thoughts on education, originally published in his 1938 work Experience and Education, analyzed both traditional and progressive education. Traditional education's focus was more on curriculum and heritage, defining a student's learning path for them; a progressive education focused on the student's interest rather than that of the instructor or subject. In Dewey's opinion, neither of these schools of thought were sufficient. Dewey believed that traditional education was too strict and progressive education too spontaneous. He believed that traditional education left little regard for the learner's interests and progressive education was too individualized.
Not being fully pleased with either philosophy, Dewey proposed a new educational theory, which highlighted the role experience plays in education. According to Dewey, powerful educational experiences are a result of two fundamental principles: continuity and interaction.
Continuity refers to how experiences, both past and present, influence the future while interaction refers to how one's current situation influences their experiences. Dewey combined these two principles, stating that one's present experiences are a direct result of how their previous experiences interact with and influence their present situation. Simply put, Dewey stated that human experiences- past, present, and future- influence the capacity to learn. He once said that: 'Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself.'
Dewey believed that traditional education, in its rigid requirements of standards and conduct, encourages learners to be docile and obedient, producing an environment where learners are encouraged to listen and learn but not necessarily to think for themselves. He valued the opportunity progressive education provides learners to think and grow but believed that progressivism forced younger generations to enact adult standards, producing an environment where learners would be encouraged to think on their own without understanding the reasoning behind their thinking.
Dewey rejected both theories and, instead, proposed that educators recognize the relationship between experience and education. He wrote, 'There is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.' Recognizing that not all experiences were educational, Dewey challenged educators to begin providing learners with experiences that resulted in growth and learning, believing that these experiences would someday result in growth and creativity in learners' future experiences. In other words, a good experience now would impact future decisions and experiences. This is what Dewey called the continuity of experience.
Dewey argued that education should focus on the quality of the experience more than it focused on the information being presented. In order to be considered a quality experience, he said that the experience must have continuity with their past and future experiences and interaction between the student's individual perceptions and a lesson environment. Continuity would propel learners to continue learning while interaction would meet the learner's needs.
His solution was experiential education, an education philosophy based on the idea that learning occurs through experience and requires hands-on activities that directly relate to the learner's life. In experiential education, learning occurs through actually doing something and then reflecting on- and learning from- the process. It combines active learning with concrete experience and reflection. Service learning, adventure learning and workplace internships are all examples of experiential education.
Not all experiences are valuable under this philosophy. Dewey cautioned educators to steer clear of mis-educative or non-educative experiences. A mis-educative experience has the potential to stop or obstruct growth for future experiences. For example, imagine that a young student is allergic to gluten, and in her home economics class she is required to bake bread, then forced to taste it in spite of her objections. For other students, this might be an educative experience, allowing them to taste the results of the lesson. But this student will probably just end up with a stomach ache and likely not be inspired to continue baking outside the class. The experience stops her educational growth and so it's considered mis-educative.
A non-educative experience is an experience that does not allow time or cause for reflection and growth. Most students have the experience of brushing their teeth every morning. But they don't have any potential to gain from reflecting on it. This kind of experience doesn't hinder student growth. But it doesn't aid in it either.
John Dewey was a philosopher and psychologist. His ideas have been influential in educational reform. Considered the 'Modern Father of Experiential Education,' Dewey's philosophy of learning through experience went against both traditional and progressive education and focused on experiential education, encouraging educators to provide quality educational experiences that would influence students' future decisions. Dewey believed in the continuity of experience, or the connection between a student's learning experiences and that student's future decisions and behavior. He also believed that educational experiences required interaction between between the student and their environment in order to be effective. The student would grow through having experiences, then reflecting on those experiences.
Finally, Dewey cautioned educators that not all experiences are educative. Some are non-educative, meaning the student is not able or driven to reflect on them. So they don't learn or grow from these experiences. Others could be mis-educative and be so unpleasant for a student that the experience actually stops or obstructs the student's growth in the future.
|Terms||Explanations According to John Dewey|
|Instrumentalism / pragmatism||belief that practice and theory are linked|
|Traditional education||focus on curriculum and heritage as well as defining a student's learning path for them|
|Progressive education||focused on the student's interest rather than the instructor or subject|
|Continuity||refers to how experiences, both past and present, influence the future|
|Interaction||refers to how one's current situation influences their experiences|
|Human experiences||the past, present, and future influence the capacity to learn|
|Continuity of experience||good experiences now will impact future decisions and experiences|
|Mis-educative experience||the potential to stop or obstruct growth for future experiences|
|Non-educative experience||an experience that does not allow time or cause for reflection and growth|
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Back To CourseFoundations of Education: Help and Review
8 chapters | 169 lessons