BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes
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Philosophical Thought of John Dewey
John Dewey was born in 1859 in Burlington, Vermont in America. His father was a small shopkeeper and his mother was an optimist woman. John Dewey’s initial education was conducted in his native schools. Having completed primary education, he, against his family traditions proceeded for higher education. His mother cooperated with him in his determination. He attained his B.A. degree from Vermont University. He had a specific interest in philosophy and he attained the highest marks in it.
John Dewey was a talented student of philosophy. He had studied several philosophers and philosophical schools of thought. He had particularly studied the philosophical thought of Plato. Hegel. Kant and Darwin. He had made research on the philosophical thought of Kani and had obtained his Ph.D. degree. From the study of his life and articles, we find that his philosophical thought continued to undergo changes. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
In the beginning, he was influenced by his own professor, George S. Maurice, due to whose influence he accepted the idealistic philosophy of Hegel. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Later, he was influenced by Darwin and he accepted his two principles— “struggle for survival” and survival of the fittest and thus relinquished idealism to support naturalism. After this. he was most influenced by William James and his pragmatism. He is now famous as a pragmatistic philosopher. Here we shall try to understand the philosophical thought of John Dewey.
Educational Thought of John Dewey
Dewey is a pragmatistic thinker. He did not believe in any eternal truths and values. He accepted only that as true which has utility in practical life. According to him, this world is changeable, it is improper to imagine unchangeable truths and values in this changeable world. He wanted to teach a man to live in a changeable society skilfully. Here we shall present an analysis of his educational thought.
Concept of Education
John Dewey accepted education as a social process. According to him, education is neither the means nor the end, but it is a real-life process. He clarified that man is born with certain inherent powers, these powers develop due to his participation in social consciousness. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey called them the psychological and social aspects of education. The psychologic aspect comprises the inherent powers, interests, and individual features of a man. and the social aspect comprises social conditions family, neighborhood, and other social organizations, groups, and civilization and culture. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey says that living in society man gets. newer experiences often and from these experiences he selects the experiences of his social use. Dewey has defined education on this basis. According to him, “Education may be defined as the process of reconstruction of experiences.” (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
According to Dewey, development is the greatest feature of human life. This development takes place in several directions–physical, mental, and social. Man controls his natural and social environment with this development and attains what he can. On this basis too, Dewey has defined education. In his words. “Education is the development of all those capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his, environment and fulfill his possibilities.”
Aims of Education
Dewey did not believe in any ultimate aim of life. Besides, he did not accept education as the means or end. but as life. Therefore, according to him. there cannot be any definite aim of education. According to him, if there is any aim of education, it is to develop such qualities and capabilities in man that he may live his present life successfully and can enlighten his future path. We can arrange Dewey’s thoughts regarding the aims of education as follows:
- Reconstruction of Experiences and Adjustment with Environment: He has clarified that human life is dynamic and changeable, therefore, education should also be dynamic and changeable. Then how can the unchangeable aims of education be determined for a changeable education? If there can be any aim of education, it is to enable man to adjust himself with dynamism. We can call it the aim of reconstruction of experiences and adjustment to the environment.
- Development of Social Skill: According to Dewey. whatever man thinks. he does it by taking part in the social consciousness. The skill of understanding society and adjusting himself to it is called social efficiency by Dewey. According to him, the aim of education is to develop this social efficiency. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
- Training in Democratic Life: Dewey was a great supporter of a democratic society. In order to take part in all tasks of society skillfully, man needs seven types of capabilities, including as-health. capacity to work, able homemaker, occupation, .citizenship, utilization of leisure time, morality, and character.
If we look carefully. all predetermined aims of education are included in them: as-education physical. mental, social, cultural, moral lid character, vocational, and citizenship development. The only difference is that John Dewey did not special of any norm for them. He says that their form would continue to change in the changing circumstances of society.
Curriculum of Education
Dewey has described the traditional subject-centered curriculum as polluted. He has laid emphasis on the fact that the curriculum should be distanced from artificiality and should be based on the activities of the real life of the students. According to him, society is dynamic, and its needs continue to change, therefore. the curriculum too should have the quality of changing with the needs of the time. He has not presented a definite curriculum for different levels of education but has certainly determined certain principles for the construction of a curriculum. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
We think it necessary to analyze them here.
- The Curriculum should be Child and Society-centred: John Dewey has opposed the traditional subject-centered curriculum and laid stress on focusing it on the psychology and social environment of the children and on their needs. He clarified that children have their own interests, aptitude, and abilities, they receive specific types of experiences while living in a specific social environment, and the curriculum should be such that it can be developed with their help.
- The Curriculum should be based on Children’s Interests: This is his second principle regarding curriculum construction. According to Dewey, children’s education should begin after having undertaken a psychological study of their abilities, interests, and habits. He has mentioned four types of interests in the children–(i) interest in the conversation, (ii) interest in exploration and testing, (iii) interest in the creation, and (iv) interest in artistic expression. According to Dewey, the curriculum of education should be based on these interests. From this view. he has included language, mathematics, history, geography, and science. carpentry, cookery, sewing. gardening. drawing. art and music in the curriculum for the first six classes.
- The Curriculum should be based on Real life activities: Deway considered education as a lively process, and not an artificial process so he laid stress on the fact that the subject matter or activities included in the curriculum for any level should be such that is related to the real life of the children of that level and can be developed on the basis of their real-life activities. Dewey wanted to make the real-life activities of the children the basics of learning, so he stressed much on this principle.
Methods of Teaching
Dewey considered man as a social being and said that man’s development took place by his taking part in the social consciousness.
According to him, education is a social process. How this process goes on, in this regard Deway has said, “All education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race.” It clarifies two aspects of learning-first, a social environment is needed for learning, and second, a person can learn only when his social consciousness is aroused and he is active. Dewey considered activity as the basis of learning. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey was not in the favour of accepting any predetermined knowledge (fact or principle). He put them all to the test before according approval. In his view, the experimental method is the best method of learning. This method includes observation, activity, self-experience, reasoning and generalization, and testing. He talked of basing teaching methods on all these.
Besides learning by doing and learning by self-experience, Dewey has also emphasized that the teaching-learning activity should be based on the interest of the children. Dewey has classified all interests into four classes interest in the conversation, interest in exploration and testing, interest in creation, and interest in artistic expression.
According to Dewey, we should give children the opportunity to converse; to self-activity and self-discovery; to perform some activity, and for artistic expression; and the situation in which we can activate their interest should endeavor. Another fact that John Dewey revealed regarding teaching is that children have an interest in real-life activities, therefore whatever is taught to them should be based on their real life and should be taught through real-life activities.
Dewey considered knowledge as the complete unit. He opposed separate teaching of different subjects. He argued that man’s life is a complete unit despite it being the total sum of diversities, therefore education too is a complete unit while being a process of different subjects and activities. This method is called the correlation method.
On the basis of Dewey’s teaching principles, his pupil Kilpatric constructed the project method. In the project method, the knowledge of all subjects and training of all activities is given in the form of a unit will the help of a project. In this method, a project is selected at first that is related to the life of the children, in the completion of which they take an interest, and get knowledge and skill related to different parts of the curriculum. The children cooperate in the completion of this project. The teachers and students take part in it.
The third step pertains to the completion of the project according to a definite program. This task is done by the children by themselves, the teachers only guide them. Evaluation is its fourth step and its fifth and final step is the writing of the project, its planning methods for its completion, and all facts related to its evaluation. The teacher evaluates the student’s task by these described descriptions. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey did not consider discipline to make the children behave and maintain order in a specific way of the fear of punishment. He clarified that when the teacher maintains order by the provision of punishment just like a despot. it only produces feelings of hatred and rebellion against him, and when this feeling becomes intense. the children break the order, and we say that they have become indisciplined. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
The truth remains that discipline cannot be established with the fear of the stick, it only creates order. According to Dewey, discipline is an internal power that inclines man to think and behave according to social norms. For the development of this power or quality. Dewey emphasized the need for a democratic environment.
The most important feature of a democratic environment is its freedom. The children in such an environment are under no pressure; they are free to select activities according to their interests, aptitudes, abilities, and needs and to execute them freely. Another feature of a democratic environment is love, sympathy, and cooperation. All people love one another in such an environment, look after one another and perform any task with cooperation. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey has clarified that no question arises for the children to become indisciplined in such an environment, rather such power is developed in them they think of social welfare. Dewey has termed it as self-discipline. According to him, self-discipline is true discipline.
According to Dewey, the aim of discipline is to create a socialized individual who can contribute to social welfare. It can be possible only when the children have love and loyalty towards others and they have developed the feeling of renunciation. From this view too. Dewey opposed the use of the stick for attaining discipline. He said that the use of the stick only produces feelings of anger and hatred in the children. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Some thinkers attach more significance to teachers in the educational field. while some to the student. Dewey supported democratic ideology, he respected the individuality of man, so while looking at the teacher with respect. he did not allow himself to impose his ideals on the students. He took the teacher as a social worker.
He said that the function of the teacher is to create such an environment that the children become able to find solutions to their problems by taking part in it and develop interest and skill for the execution of required activities as needed in practical life. He termed it social efficiency. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Thus, Dewey accepted the teacher as the planner of the proper environment and guide to the children.
As has been mentioned above, Dewey respected the individuality of man, so he wanted to give freedom to each child for his natural development. He opined that while planning education, we should keep in mind the psychological and social aspects of the children and their needs. He was a supporter of giving complete freedom to each child according to his interest, aptitude and need for socially-approved development. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
He raised the slogan that each child should be given the opportunity for the maximum development of his abilities by which he can do good for his own and that of society. From this view, some scholars say that Dewey considered the child as the center of education, but this statement is quite misleading. He looked at both individuals and society with equal respect, and this remains the fundamental principle of the democratic spirit. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
According to Dewey, education is a social process. A child receives knowledge of objects, language, and activities around him while living in society. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey said that in order to run the learning process well, a proper social environment is needed. For creating the environment, he considered the need of the schools. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
But he did not mean the school by that building made of concrete and mortar where information is given to the children. In this view, school is a miniature society where the children experience new things by taking part in the activities and select the experiences for their own use and for society. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
Dewey has determined two poles of education psychological and social. According to Dewey, the school should fulfill the psychological and social needs of the children. For the fulfillment of psychological needs, the school should have a homely environment (freedom, love sympathy, and cooperation). (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)
By social fulfillment, Dewey meant that school should not be the place for preparation for the future but should be the miniature society itself. Miniature society is meant to present the complex society in a simple form. Dewey says that the children should love one another in this lively social environment, respect one another and cooperate with one another. Taking part in such school activities the children develop social efficiency. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thought of John Dewey Study Notes)