General overview of Dewey`s philosophy of education essay

John Dewey (1859-1952), the Father of Modern Education and Experiential Education Movement believed that that learning was active and schooling unnecessarily long and restrictive. His idea was that children came to school to do things and live in a community which gave them real, guided experiences which fostered their capacity to contribute to society. (Neill, 2005).

For him the school must be made into social center capable of participating in the daily life of the community . . . and make up in part to the child for the decay of dogmatic and fixed methods of social discipline and for the loss of reverence and the influence of authority. (Warde, 2005) Garrison (1999) quoted from Democracy and Education where John Dewey’s wrote his philosophy of education. “If we are willing to conceive education as the process of forming fundamental disposition, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow-men, philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education.

Unless a philosophy is to remain symbolic—or verbal-or a sentimental indulgence for a few, or else mere arbitrary dogma, its auditing of past experience and its program of values must take effect in conduct. ” He said that Dewey’s philosophy in education was extraordinarily comprehensive. Dewey`s Aims of Education His primary aim is to see that school is integrated with the society and that children learn the actual problems that they will encounter in life. He wants to see that the application of the principles and practices of democracy to be applied in the schools.

Schools should be open to all on a free and equal basis regardless race, gender or social status. First, the schools would be freely available to all from kindergarten to college. Second, the children would themselves carry on the educational process, aided and guided by the teacher. Third, they would be trained to behave cooperatively, sharing with and caring for one another. Then these creative, well-adjusted equalitarian would make over American society in their own image. (Warde, 2005) 3. Dewey`s preferred methodology of education Dewey believed that students should be involved in real-life task and challenges.

He said that math could be learn through proportions in cooking or figuring out how long it would take to get from one place to another by using a mule. History can be learn by experiencing how people lived, geography, what climate was like and how plants and animals grew were important subject. (as cited in Neill, 2005) a. The teacher who is an intelligent student both of individual mental operations and of the effects of school conditions upon those operations, can largely be trusted to develop for himself methods of instruction in their narrower and more technical sense.

(in Stengeluthor, 1998) Dewey’s guidelines for method in teaching: 1) situate instruction in action, avoiding student passivity; 2) focus on students’ forming images, avoiding the presentation of lessons and ideas already fully formed; 3) attend to interests as signs of the power to learn; 4) acknowledge emotion as a corollary of action, accepting emotional response without focusing on it. b. Method means that arrangement of subject matter which makes it most effective in use. Never is method something outside of material . (in Stengeluthor, 1998)

With reference to subject-matter, he says that all studies must be “controlled by reference to social life” . Since “the primary basis of education is in the child’s powers at work along the same general constructive lines as those which have brought civilization into being” , there is “no succession of studies in the ideal school curriculum. ” There is only life in its scientific, cultural and communicative aspects. In life there is both subject-matter and method, in that “education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience” . (in Stengeluthor, 1998)

In describing method, Dewey argues for the importance of acknowledging ideas in action, of shaping the child’s powers of imagery, of observing the child’s growing interests, and of allowing emotions to follow intelligent action . Each of these efforts implies substance as well as form, subject-matter as well as presentation and treatment of that subject-matter. (in Stengeluthor, 1998) c. Method is concerned with providing conditions so adapted to individual needs and powers as to make for the permanent improvement of observation, suggestion, and investigation . (in Stengeluthor, 1998) 4. Dewey`s preferences for cirriculum

Over the past years, the concentration of education is in the traditional 3R’s (arithmetic, reading and writing) Dewey proposed that manual training, science, nature study , arts and similar subjects should be given more emphasis and importance because these things will enhance child’s motor power in constructive work would lead naturally, he said, into learning the more abstract, intellectual branches of knowledge. Every level of education must be unique and must be in accordance to the need of the growing child. In the primary stage, the lesson should be taught in a form of games and activities.

Through this play method children are naturally learning things like solving problem for example. The approach in each level-must also be child-centered. Dewey insisted that “The actual interests of the child must be discovered if the significance and worth of his life is to be taken into account and full development achieved. Each subject must fulfill present needs of growing children . . . The business of education is not, for the presumable usefulness of his future, to rob the child of the intrinsic joy of childhood involved in living each single day. ” Dewey`s role of the teacher

Teacher’s are there to guide the students to think independently and creatively, inspire them to desire knowledge and guide them in truth searching. The teacher’s problem is two-fold: “he needs… to be a student of individual traits and habits; on the other side, he needs to be a student of the conditions that modify for better or worse the directions in which individual powers habitually express themselves” (HWT, 46). Further, “he needs to recognize that method covers not only what he intentionally devises and employs for the purpose of mental training, but also what he does without any conscious reference to it” (HWT, 46).

(in Stengeluthor, 1998) To teach well, the teacher must connect the subject matter to the needs, desires, interests, stage of cognitive development, etc. of the student, within the physical, social, and political context that the students and teachers find themselves. Good teaching requires moral as well as cognitive perception of the needs and abilities of the student. It also requires a complete and confident command of the subject matter to reconfigure it to meet the needs of every individual student. (Garrison, 1999)