Dewey's Philosophy of Education

John Dewey

John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and practical teacher. He was born in Vermont in New England in 1859. He was the son of a shop keeper and was brought up in rural environment. Dewey revolted against the existing and traditional aims of education such as moral aim, disciplinary aim and the informative aim. He said the schools should strive to elevate the aims of civic and social experience, vocational and practical usefulness and the individual development. Dewey died in New York City on 1 June 1952.

The experience of early years brought to him two convictions:
i. The traditional methods of schooling were useless.
ii. Human contacts of everyday life provide unlimited, natural, and dynamic learning situations.
He heard the lively comments and discussions in his father’s shop and realized the strength and power of group consciousness in the various activities of small society. These two convictions directed the course of his educational work.

Dewey’s Conception of Curriculum:

Dewey, as cited in Purkait, 2001, “the beginning is made with child’s expressive activities in dealing with the fundamental social material – food, social, shelter, clothing and the direct modes of social curriculum like speech, writing, reading, drawing, modeling, moulding etc. thus the curriculum in the primary school should be organized according to the four- fold interests of the child in conversation, enquiry, construction and artistic expression (p. 162).”
The traditional curriculum included subjects were just used as information. No practicability was there in the curriculum to relate the needs of child. Dewey’s curriculum is based on the actual experiences, interests and impulses of the child. According to Dewey the curriculum should consists of “educative experiences and problems. The aim is to enrich experiences. The problems should be so organized as to inspire the pupil to add the existing knowledge and ideas. Dewey’s scheme also included an esthetic, religious and moral education.
The children should develop moral interest and insight morality in discipline comes through the free and purposive judgement of the individual.

Dewey’s Methods of Teaching:

Dewey’s methods of teaching consist of three processes

& Continuance of psychological order in the curriculum.
& Retention of problem method.
& Extension of social opportunity.

The first process is natural that is why it is essential. The second process would enable students to learn “not things but the meanings of things”. The last process would give social opportunities that will help in arousing students’ social consciousness, and it is essential for students for being a future students.
John Dewey’s methods of teaching are based on his pragmatic philosophy. According to him knowledge takes place from concrete and meaningful learning. His methods are based on the principles of ‘learning by doing’. In his method what a child does is the most important thing.

Problem solving methods of John Dewey:
In the Project or Problem Method, which Dewey advocated, the child’s interests and purposes are the most important things. For his problem or project method John Dewey laid down five steps of solving the problems but before that he warned the teacher not to allow the projects “to be too ambitious and beyond the pupil’s capacity to accomplish”.

Following are the five essential steps of John Dewey’s:
& The pupil should have a genuine situation of experiences.
There should be a continuous activity in which the student is interested for his own sake.

& A genuine problem should arise from this situation and should stimulate the thinking of the child.

& The students should process or obtain information or make observation needed to deal with the problem.

& The suggested solutions should occur to him/ her.

& The student should have an opportunity to test his ideas by application, thus making their meaning clear and discovering for himself their validity.

John Dewey thought that in this world awareness of individual responsibility must be aroused. It is school which can contribute by training the young in specific and experimental thinking and by helping them to experience the need for democratic


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