John Dewey is the famous western philosopher and educationist of twentieth century. His principles of philosophy has provided direction to identify different aspects of educational theory and practice such as aims of education, curriculum, methods of teaching and concept of school etc. He is a philosopher of present time. His approach towards problem of life is original and offered sound solutions to major problems. Dewey contributed significantly in the development of education. His philosophy included both general and experimental approach. He considered education as an ongoing reconstruction of experience. He believed that education comes through experiences and increase person’s skills in particular direction (Singh, 2008). Dewy philosophy which he called “instrumentalism” is a branch of pragmatism. Pragmatism is in contrast of idealism but highly influenced by evolutionary principles. It considered everything as dynamic so the idea of what is truth is also not constant. Pragmatism emphasizes on the validity of experimental method and based on the need of varies observable phenomenon for new discoveries. It believes that the ultimate assessment of truth must be sought in practical consequences. He also said that teacher should give proper kind of environment to student so that the activity of students would perform in co-operative manner. In seeking problem in occupations children should provide different task for getting material and utilizing them to achieve plans received by students under the general supervision of the teacher. (Khalid, 2012) The philosophy of pragmatism believes that the aim of life is to develop fair and equitable environment for all human being by empirical method and by successful solution of problems (Morish, 1967).
Dewey did not believe in fixed aims of education nor any hierarchy. He believes that aims of education are based on real life situations of an individual. According to him aims arises with continuous experience. He included both individual and social aims of education. To Dewey the main purpose of education is to prepare an individual in the art of living together. Education itself is a process of growth and helps an individual to grow. Endless growth is the true object of education. Education is life and life is education. Man is a social animal and develops through education and social skills (Rather, 2004). Hence the main purpose of education is to enable a child to develop new values of life instead of assumed or predetermined values (Sahu, 2002). He believed that aim of education is to build social attitudes, interest and habits (Khalid, 2012) Dewey’s curriculum also reflects pragmatism. He believed that like aims curriculum also should not be fixed. It must be flexible and according to the pupil’s interest. Dewey said that students has four varieties of interest which include interest in conversation, interest in investigation, interest in construction and interest in creative expression varieties. At the beginning stage, Curriculum should have these varieties of interest and include reading, writing, counting, art craft work and other practical work of simple nature. It must focus on social activities. Dewey also said that major part of studies in traditional practices was based on verbal studies. He emphasizes that the art in the course of study benefit child in daily practices. To Dewey subject matter should be taught in relation of occupation rather than traditional (Khalid, 2012).
Dewey has clearly outline stages of education. He said that object become known and sense when they are exercised to achieve some ends. He defined activities as an adaptation of series of change to attain some ends (Khalid, 2012). Hannah stated that according to Dewey we can learn more from experience if we apply method of inquiry. This method of inquiry needs an investigator with reflective thinking. It is not only thinking for something but it includes evidences and based on rationality. It begins with confusion and has purpose, order and conclusion. It is analyzed into five stages (Cruz & Hannah, 1979). He said that at first students must identify difficulty. Students may feel that they cannot perform in some activity in which they are engaged. After having sense of problem students must next define problem clearly. Once the problem has been clearly analyzed and suggestions will arise as to how the continuation one’s initial activity can be reconstructed into better form. Then students reasons out the implementation of these suggestion. They must reasons logically each suggestion with possible outcomes in terms of consequences if suggestion is acted out. Finally, they test the suggestion hypothesis or theory that seems most likely to attain ends by implementation of it. Dewey worked on a theory of education in which people are taught to think, not because thinking is good itself but it works as an instrument for problems of world (Khalid, 2012).
Dewey stated “Problem method” in a logical order of development. But when he explained his idea about interest, he included psychology too. He believed that psychology and logics are not opposed but equally dependent. He emphasizes that child centered approach should be used in classroom practice. The role of teacher is to supervise student’s activity during problem solving situation. Teacher should facilitate students during testing hypothesis. He further elaborates that interest is not the result of instruction but it is because of some inborn inclination. Teacher should involve child’s interest by providing instruction according to child’s native tendencies. If the teacher takes into consideration the inborn drives of child in teaching learning process then interest would be developed (Khalid, 2012). The responsibility of teacher is not only to provide knowledge but also to build in students the interest for knowledge. Dewey idea of activity and social process brought a change in traditional practices of classroom. He also expected that the schooling system which he had in mind would have more noise and disorder then general schooling system. He said that when children would be busy in seeking ways and sources to solve problem then it would have more noise as complex to conventional system where students only listen to teacher and remains passive whereas teacher is only active. He was basically opposed of traditional idea of discipline (Morish, 1967).
Dewey considered education as a continuous reconstruction of experience. He believes that freedom of observation and judgment must be given to student. He said that questions can be answered only by trying and effort. Dewey made the world familiar with progressive aims and types of education. He opposed the static idea of knowledge. He focused on variable aims of education to fulfill the changing demands of environment. Dewey said that it is necessary to learn to make decision on the basis of warranted belief that has been derived from experience something consequences of those decisions. His idea of experience has three levels which includes within process of reasoning during thinking not only solve the problem in hand, but the culture of society from where problem arise and whatever known about human nature. It follows an order in which the continuation of process of learning from past and present experience to attain better experience in future. Success of future experience base not only having experience but also the reflection upon the experience to avail knowledge and understanding of variety of sources such as public not only individual. He brought a change in aim method and curriculum of education. He gave problem solving method and presented education with new meaning. He believed that education is life itself and basic need of life process. He believes in freedom of ideas and action.
Hannah, W.(1979). John Dewey. In J. Curz & W. Hannah (Eds.), Studies in educational
theories:Perceptions of excellence (pp.115-144). Melbourne: The Polding Press.
Khalid, T. (2012). Education: An introduction to educational philosophy and history.
Islamabad: Rohani Art Press.
Morrish, I. (1967). Disciplines of education. Great Britain: George Allen & Unwin.
Rather, A.R. (2004). Theory and principles of education. New Delhi: Discovery
Sahu, B. (2002). The new educational philosophy. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.
Singh, Y. (2008). Philosophical foundation of education. New Delhi: A P H