John Dewey’s Philosophy on Education
Elisia Lucina Lake
University of St. Martin
For John Dewey, education and democracy are intimately connected. According to Dewey good education should have both a societal purpose and purpose for the individual student. For Dewey, the long-term matters, but so does the short-term quality of an educational experience. Dewey criticizes traditional education for lacking in holistic understanding of students and designing curricula overly focused on content rather than content and process which is judged by its contribution to the well-being of individuals and society. Dewey's theory is that experience arises from the interaction of two principles; continuity and interaction. The value of the experience is to be judged by the effect that experience has on the individual's present, their future, and the extent to which the individual is able to contribute to society. Throughout, there is a strong emphasis on the subjective quality of a student's experience and the necessity for the teacher of understanding the students' past experiences in order to effectively design a sequence of liberating educational experiences to allow the person to fulfill their potential as a member of society.
John Dewey’s Philosophy on Education
“Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself” (Dover, 1958). Arguably the most influential thinker on education in the twentieth century, Dewey's contribution lies along several fronts; His attention to experience and reflection democracy and community and to environments for learning have been seminal. John Dewey was born October 20, 1859, in Burlington, Vermont. His father, Archibald, left the family tradition of farming, which had been followed for three generations, to become a grocer in the small city of Burlington. Dewey's mother, Lucina, also came from a farm family. Archibald sold the grocery business when he volunteered to join the Union Army in the Civil War, but after the war he became owner of a cigar and tobacco shop. John and his two brothers grew up in a middle-class household in a community that included "old Americans" as well as new immigrants from Ireland and French Quebec. Lucina Dewey carried out philanthropic work with poor families living in the industrial section of Burlington. At his mother's request, Dewey joined the First Congregational Church at age eleven, although he later sought a more liberal religious perspective than was evident in his mother's conservative church. Dewey completed his grade-school work in Burlington's public schools at age 12. He selected the college-preparatory track in high school, starting in 1872 and completed his high school courses in three years. He began attending the University of Vermont, in Burlington, in 1875, when he was 16 years old. The classical curriculum was similar to Dewey's high school courses, emphasizing Greek and Latin, English literature, math, and rhetoric; however, the faculty "encouraged their students to be themselves and to think their own thoughts" (Dover, p. 10) and by his senior year, Dewey was immersed in studies of political, social, and moral philosophy. Dewey graduated from the University of Vermont in 1879. Through a relative, he obtained a high school teaching position in Oil City, Pennsylvania, where he was part of a three-member faculty for two years. Dewey returned to Vermont in 1881, where he combined high school teaching with continuing study of philosophy, under the tutoring of Dewey's former undergraduate professor, Henry A. P. Torrey. In September 1882, Dewey entered Johns Hopkins University to begin graduate studies in philosophy. Johns Hopkins was one of the first American universities to offer graduate instruction that was considered comparable to the European universities, with emphasis on original scholarly research as an expectation for graduate students as well as faculty...
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