- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (July 1 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684838281
- ISBN-13: 978-0684838281
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 0.8 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 68 g
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Experience And Education Paperback – Jul 1 1997
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"No one has done more to keep alive the fundamental ideals of liberal civilization." -- Morris R. Cohen
About the Author
John Dewey, philosopher and social critic, was the author of more than twenty books. He was a professor at Columbia University and a writer for The New Republic. He died in 1952.
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John Dewey's thesis primarily comes out of his experience with progressive schools. Progressive education is based on the idea of freedom whereas traditional education is autocratic in nature. Having analyzed both traditional and progressive education Dewey found that neither was satisfactory and thus both were inadequate in this endeavor. Dewey's main contention and cornerstone of belief is that without experience infused into education there can be no education. America is a nation based upon democracy where supreme power is vested in the people collectively and administered by them. There is no autocracy in America or room for it. America is a land of freedom and free thought. Dewey foresaw an America that will bring in all sources of experience that will offer a true learning situation both historically and socially and that will be both ordered or structured and yet be dynamic. The democracy of America provides all the elements for John Dewey's thesis to come to fruition.
Dewey saw a necessity of introducing an order of new concepts (progressivism) leading to new practices. However Dewey observed it difficult to develop a new philosophy of education because the moment traditions are departed from it makes the management of education all the more difficult and challenging. Dewey observed that because of this there would be a return to the old ways, the simpler ways - the fundamental or traditional ways. Dewey observed that mankind's thinking is traditionally set in terms of extreme opposites. Dewey found that this same thinking applied to educational philosophies as well. In theory educational systems are steadfast in their thinking and deployment but in reality their practices are compelled to compromise. Education is formulated from outside forces but undergoes development from internal forces. However, these internal forces work within the framework of standards and traditional rules that initially instituted the educational system, thus all following actions aimed to an educational end are held to a moral benchmark.
Educational philosophy, which professes to be based on the idea of freedom (progressivism), may become dogmatic as the traditional education it reacted against. Alone a progressive educational theory may become rigid, unmoving and dictatorial as the traditional theory and practice is perceived. Dewey found that tradition does not permit freedom. Tradition limited freedom and did not promote intellectual and moral development of the student. From a sociological point of view we prefer democratic and humane arrangements to those that are autocratic and harsh. Thus tradition can further be characterized by harshness, harshness imposed upon the learner. Dewey found that progressivism permits freedom, the freedom of the learner yet, freedom has a purpose and a moral structure characterized by self-control. Freedom gives the ability to control personal impulse and thus provides an environment for the educational process.
Pertaining to subject matter of facts and ideas Dewey found that these are bound up in the past. Variably Dewey found that issues of the present and future are thus not easily dealt with. Dewey's dilemma or philosophical challenge was how to connect achievements of the past with issues of the present and future. In a broad educational sense one must know where one came from in order to tell where one is and where one has the direction to go. Dewey found that progressivism rejects the past as a means to the future. However, tradition is still needed to tackle the needs of progressivism. If the one gives up the ways of the past the same problems stills confronts one in the present and future. Thus tradition can not be ignored. As Alfred Whitehead saw it the only use of knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. Tradition is a form of experience and can not be ignored.
Experience and education are not synonymous terms. It is very possible for experience to promote erroneous or defective education. Experience must be evaluated for its ability to enhance education. Dewey states that America needs a theory of experience that works and directs the selection and organization of approved educational methods. This theory must ultimately discriminate between experiences that are worthwhile and those that are not. There must be discrimination between education and miseducation. You can get experience in one direction and equally important open up peripheral experiences. Education as growth and maturity should be an ever-present process. Education is the business of continuous improvement. There is growth and satisfaction.
All subject matter is drawn from life's experiences. Take experience, in order to be educative it must lead out into expanding world of subject matter, subject matter of facts of information of ideas. It must be viewed as a continuous process to be successful. Experience is the means and goal of education. Given an idea you then prove it, but that means proving its worth. You prove its worth through experience. This is good for society and beneficial because of the peripheral benefits of experience. The experience is the actual life experience of the learner. There is only one subject matter for education: life. Bring these experiences freely into the classroom to promote education.
And then I started getting hints that this work was older. I started thinking... it must have been a 70's book, for it fits in well with the movements of that age, which founded many 'learning community' style colleges like my own. But I got more clues. 60's? 50's? How could someone write so well that I can understand him as if he were a modern writer?
This little book was originally published in 1938, but even then, I learned that this was a response to cricicism from his life work. This is a summary of his thoughts and a rebuttal to his critics. Because of his audience, he tends to repeat himself in this volume, to make it perfectly clear what exactly he is trying to say. Other students found this repetition annoying, while I found it helpful, and I truly appreciated the attempt he made not to offend anyone, so that his thoughts could be judged on their own merit with as little bias as possible.
So there is the chance that some will not like this book while others like myself enjoyed it immensely, but this work is relevant, quite readable despite the possible 'flaws' in his style, and so short, there's little to lose.
Our teacher told us that each and every one of us will find some quotes in this book that will speak to us, she guaranteed. And she was right.
Dewey's book should be seen as a theoretical basis for practical teaching.
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