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Learning by doing: John Dewey

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by Emily Hoxie on 19 November 2012

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Transcript of Learning by doing: John Dewey

In "Experience and Education" Dewey argues that children need assistance from teachers in developing a concrete understanding of the world. In order to effectively assist students, teachers must first observe children and from those observations determine the types of experiences they maintain and are have an interest in. For Dewey, the path to quality education requires that learning build on previous knowledge and experiences, presented in a highly structured and well planned manner. This requires a strong base of general and societal knowledge, teachers to invest time in both observation adn planning, and a devotion to leading students to a greater understanding of their world.

Teachers must then foster a classroom environment that encourages students to play a central role in creating their own knowledge through experience. Allowing students to take place in this social process will develop a deeper understanding of the curriculum and their world simultaneously. The Teacher's Role In addition to deepening their understanding of their children's individual place in the world, teachers must be willing to tap into their own understanding of the world. Dewey believed this to be an essential component of making sense of the world for students. Taking students knowledge into consideration is important, however teacher's posses a greater knowledge of the world and should create classroom environments with ample opportunity to grow from this greater knowledge, thus expanding student's base knowledge. Making Sense of the World Engagement in Learning The process of learning is most enjoyable when people are engaged in the material they are presented with, however Dewey argued that enjoyment itself is not enough to make an experience educational. Activating children's schema is an essential component of an effective learning experience. A teacher should take this into consideration when planning "fun" activities. The value of an experience is linked to the effect it has on an individuals present, future, and the extent to which it allows them to actively contribute to society.

Asking the following questions will help to ensure an effective learning experience:
*What prior knowledge do my students possess on this topic?
*What are my students curious about?
*How will this activity support my student's development?
*How does this activity prepare these children to live more fully? Education should be both highly individualized and carry a greater societal purpose Dewey strongly believed that education should be tailored to a student's individual experience while simultaneously serving a greater purpose by creating the best possible society.

Successful educators provide students with experiences that are immediately valuable to their current position in life while additionally better enabling them to contribute to society. Utilizing Dewey's theory, an educational experience would... Learning through experience: John Dewey's education theoretical approach.

By: Emily Hoxie
EDUC 202
Professor Perez
SFCC Placing the adventure of life at the center of learning. Experience and Education "I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not preparation for future living." "True education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself." John Dewey believed that education is a significant component of life. Arguing that throughout their lives, people are learning; consequently, education should provide people with the tools they need at the current time rather than focusing on preparing them only for future life situations. Educational curriculum should be applicable to a student's real life. "The child's own instinct and powers furnish the material and give the starting point for all education." In addition to taking a student's current life situation into consideration, for Dewey a child's interest should form the basis for curriculum. Considering a child's interest and life background assures that learning is meaningful for students. Children learn best through interaction with people, both fellow peers and adults. This relates back to Dewey's emphasis relating learning to experience. Outside of traditional classroom environments, most learning takes place because of exposure to new ideas through social interaction. "I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of a proper social life." For Dewey, teachers are responsible for both teaching subject matter and how to successful live in society. Consequently, teaching directly effects not only the traditional education of individuals but also the manner in which society is shaped. Therefore, educational experiences must... *Must be based on the children's interest and grow out of their existing knowledge and life experience
*Support a child's development
*Add to a child's understanding of their world
*Prepare the children to be more active participants of their society *Be one in which the teacher observed and asked questions to find out what the children already knew

*Using acquired background knowledge, the teacher would then develop a curriculum taking student's experience and interest into consideration

*Documentation of student's learning

*Base successful understanding of a topic by measuring how it leads into the next area of study (Are children left curious?) References Mooney, Carol. Theories of Childhood. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press, 2000. Print.


Only a Teacher: Schoolhouse Pioneers: John Dewey. Public Broadcasting Station.
http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/john.html Utilizing Dewey in my own classroom I chose to focus on Dewey's theory of learning through experience because I think it is critically important for early elementary school teachers to emphasize real world application in their own classrooms. As a first grade teacher, I have quickly learned the importance of explaining concepts to my students in terms they understand (terms that fit into their current world). Additionally, academic concepts stick most effectively when linked to something tangible for them, this again requires me to relate almost everything back to their six year old worlds while simultaneously using my knowledge base to expand their understanding. I recognize that I do not take into consideration my student's environment as much as I should, and therefore wanted to dive deeper into Dewey's theory.
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