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John Dewey: Experience and Education

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Erin Cooper

on 10 September 2015

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Transcript of John Dewey: Experience and Education

John Dewey: Experience and Education
Chapter 1: Traditional vs. Progressive Education
Traditional education focuses on a set of skills that is imposed by educators and learned through obedience

Progressives reject traditional educational theory and practice
The belief is that students should have the freedom to
pursue individual learning through “experiences”

Teachers should transfer knowledge (as with traditional
education); but methods should be modified so that students are more active participants in the process of learning

New educational philosophy should include aspects of both

Chapter 3: Criteria of Experience
• Education must focus on growing or developing, not only physically, but intellectually and morally (which produces the principle of continuity) as well
One can grow in specialized ways, but for education it must be universal application of "growth"
Educators must discriminate between ways in which experiences are educative and ones that are mis-educative


Chapter 5: The Nature of Freedom
The only freedom that is of enduring importance is freedom of intelligence/freedom of observation and of judgement exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worth while

Commonmost mistake is to identify freedom with that of movement or with external or physical activity
The nature of freedom cannot be entirely separated from internal and external sides
Increased measures of freedom of outer movement is a means, not an end

The advantages of the increase of outward freedom:
Giving the educator more understanding of the student’s thoughts, imaginations, desires, and activities
The learning process itself needs outward freedom to help social aspects and overall learning
It is a means of maintaining normal physical and mental health

The amount and quality external freedom varies for each individual and is needed as a means of growth, so it shouold be considered by the educator at every stage of development
Younger children need more physical activity

The ideal aim of education is creation of power of self-control through outward freedom
The mistake in allowing freedom of outer movement is that it may be difficult for particular means of social control
There is a tendency to be destructive to group interactions and activities

Chapter 4: Social Control
Any practical attempt to develop schools based on the idea that education is found in life-experience need to recognize that they also need to be guided by some conception of what experience is, and what marks off educative experience from non-educative and mis-educative experience.
Education needs to take into account that control of individual actions is effected by the whole situation in which individuals are involved, in which they share and of which they are co-operative or interacting parts
For example, in sports all individuals follow the rules of the game in order to play the game
Those who take part do not feel that they are bossed around by an individual person or are being subjected to the will of some outside superior person
This idea illustrates the general principle of social control of individuals without the violation of freedom

Chapter 2: The Need of a Theory of Experience
• The new philosophy of education should connect experience with experimental philosophy

• Many "experiences" may be positive, but they may not
lead to future experiences, which is necessary for
the acquisition of knowledge
• Educators need to produce quality experiences that will
lead to future experiences, referred to as
“experimental continuum”
• It is harder to determine new methods and philosophy for the new education than pervious educational frameworks
Traditional education was so integrated into school that it’s much easier to see the impact and results


Impact of Dewey
Biggest impact of Dewey was on education: "Experimental curriculum," helped move schools away from recitation and memorization and toward discussion, problem solving, field trips, and occupational relevance to learning

Social Impact of Dewey (but mostly) the "Progressives:" Child-savers movement lead to juvenile justice development, psychology focused on development, social welfare, and vocational schools, industrial training schools, and workhouses for children to rehabilitate them
Educators must be put in a position in which they can evaluate each experience for each individual and determine how to foster growth, by determining what actions can be done externally (within reason) to continue growth and are not detrimental to it
This makes education much harder than traditional education because it cannot be based on the educator’s experience; must be based on the individuals
Every experience is not completely internally manifested
Knowledge is transmitted from previous knowledge
A second responsibility of educators is to be aware of the general principle of shaping experiences, but also, what surroundings are conducive to continued growth
Teachers need to become acquainted with all physical surroundings to be used as possible resources
Traditional school did not do this because the school environment was supposed to suffice
Underlying notion within this school of thought that a true experience only occurs when objective conditions (outside needs) are subordinate to what goes on within the individuals having the experience







“Situations” within the true learning experience occur when two sets of conditions have equal rights - objective and internal conditions
External conditions can be controlled easier
Internal conditions create the motivation to continue learning

The concept of “interaction” and “situation” are interrelated and not separable because an experience is a transaction taking place that includes an individual, the environment, and the subject
The two principles of interaction and continuity are not separate of one another either
What an individual learns in one situation will be used again in a later situation

The principle of continuity and in its educational practice means that the future has to be taken into account when considering every stage of the educational process
Educators need to select the correct objective
conditions in which the individuals are currently
learning so they can have a worth-while experience
These experiences need to be more than just
acquisition of skills because those do not
necessarily prepare individuals for future learning

Educators must also consider collateral learning, which is the formation of attitudes, likes and dislikes, towards what is being learned

In social control, no one person established order unless it is for the benefit of the whole group and the control is social, but the individuals are parts of a community, not outside of it

Teachers should reduce the occasions in which they exercise authority in a personal way, but only speak and act firmly in times where it is done on behalf of the interest of the group
Traditional schools often set teachers at odds with students because they played an undue role that required sheer obedience to the will of the adult

In new schools, the primary sources of social control resides in the nature of the work done (social enterprise), in which all individuals have the opportunity to contribute and feel a responsibility
Not all students will respond normally to this shared idea,
so the teacher needs to deal with them individually
Exclusion may be the best solution available, but this may
reinforce the bad behavior depending on the
circumstances
The “weakness in control” in progressive schools may arise from failures to adequately plan and prepare for situations that exercise control and provide experience
This requires a much more intelligent and difficult type of planning that must be flexible enough to permit free play for the individuality of experience and yet firm enough to give direction towards the continuous development of power

Education should be based on experience and educative experience in which there is a process of shared commonality




The rejection of all forms of social interaction is not necessary; some forms of intercourse that are inherently appropriate to social situations should be developed
A failure in education would be not learning the about mutual accommodations and adaptations

Chapter 6: The Meaning of Purpose
Chapter 7: Progressive Organization of Subject Matter
Chapter 8: Experience – The Means and Goals of Education
Progressive education emphasizes the active participation of the learner in the formation of the purposeful learning
However, “purpose” should be an end-view that takes foresight from the consequences that result from acting on impulse

A genuine purpose always starts with an impulse. If the immediate execution of the impulse is obstructed, the impulse becomes a desire However, neither impulse nor desire makes up a purpose.

The transformation of impulse to purpose includes the following stages (intelligent activity):
Observation of surrounding conditions
Knowledge of past similar experiences or advice from others
Judgement about what has been observed, what is known, and what that can signify (estimation of consequences vs actions)

One issues for educational purposes is that desire for certain things may override the estimation of consequence
Overemphasis in progressive schools on activity as an end, instead of “intelligent activity”

Teachers need to understand the capabilities, past experiences, and needs of students so they can make suggestions to help to develop a plan and project of further suggestions organized by members of the group
This should not be a dictation, but a group effort with the teacher as an experienced guide
Subject matter must fall within the scope of ordinary life experiences, and these prior life experiences must be developed into a fuller more organized form

The challenge for educators is selecting things within the range of existing experience that have the promise and potential of presenting new problems by which stimulating new ways of observation and judgements that will expand into future experiences

Traditional education taught subject-matter based on what educators
thought students would need at some point in time

Progressive education fails to recognize the past has influence on
present, so they tend to ignore it

The basic material of study cannot be picked up in a random way, certain instances will come up spontaneously where freedom of learning will need to be allowed, but often this does not need to be relied upon for a continuing line of activity


The educator has a responsibility to ensure the following two outcomes:
The problem grows out of the conditions of a present experience that is within the range of the capacity of the learners
The problem is significant enough to motivate learners to seek more information and to stimulate the production of new ideas

Sound educational principle should introduce scientific subject-matter, as it relates to everyday social applications
The principle of cause-and-effect can be introduced through various ways and can be developmentally important for learning experiences
The scientific method should be utilized for getting at the significance of everyday experiences
The method of intelligence used in the experimental method demands organization, reflection, summary, activities, etc.

In order for experiences to be educational, they must extend into an expanding world of subject matter consisting of facts, information, and ideas

The educator must view teaching and learning as a continuous process of reconstructing experience
This occurs only when the educator can look to the future with the perspective of viewing each present experience as a moving force that influences future experiences

• Education must be based on experience if it is to accomplish its end for both learners and society

• The process towards a new education is difficult

Finding an effective utilization of the scientific method to help develop the possibility of growing and expanding experience is hard
Misunderstanding what consists of experience is a danger

• It doesn’t matter if the old education or the new is better, but what is worthy to receive the name education is a fundamental issue
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