Dewey's Experience an EDucation

John Dewey (1859-1952) an American Pragmatist philosopher and educator has extensively influenced the fields of pedagogy, philosophy of mind , epistomology , logic , philosophy of science social and political theory through his writings . He is one of the greatest pragmatists thinker alongwith William James ans Sanders Peirce. Dewey has written many influential and important texts on Education. These include Democracy and Education, Experience and Nature,, My Pedagogical Creed, How we Think and Experience and Education among others. The following section deals with his text Experience and Education,
Deweys book experience and education consists of eight chapter in which chapter one talked about the traditional vs progressive education. These opposite pools are easily observableeven in modern day educational system. On the one hand there isa  relatively structured, deciplined, ordered and content based traditional education, and on the other, there is this relatively unstructured, freedom loving, student directed progressive education. 

Dewy has attempted to redconcile the opposition between progressive and traditional education. Progressive education, says Dewey is a critic on traditional education . It simply negates progressive education. But negating something is not enough, and progressive education has to develop its own methods and contents. 

Dewey argues that without understanding the nature  of human experience and defining the theory  of experience we can’t develop progressive educational system .  According to Dewey Education basically is a kind of experience. And he argues that progressive education has to develop itsels as a type of experience different from traditional education. Dewey then explains how he understands experience.

In chapter three of “Education and Experience” he explains that there are two abstract principles which explain the nature of experience--- Continuity and interaction. Continuity is that each experience a person has will influence his future and interaction refers to situational influence on ones experience.

Educational experience should be continuous and it should be interactive. By continuity he means that the experience should lead towards more and more growth, and by interacttion he means how an experience allows us to interact with the society and others, with our situation. Progressive education should device experiences that are both continuous and interactive.

In chapter four he has discussed the theme of “Social control”,  “freedom” in chapter five, “Purpose” in chapter six and “The progressive organisation of subject matter” in cahpter seven. He concluded his argument in chapter eight by giving“The means and goals of education”.
Lets discusses the concept of social control in Dewey’s “Experience and Education” in detail. He said that every one experiences social control in daily life, but this doesnot have to represent autocratic rule. Social control for the benefit of individuality and group progress is quite common and acceptable. Dewey has given the concept of group activites for teaching and learning purpose and he want the teacher to be a part of the group the most mature and experienced member. In this way the students will learn manners and should use them when participiting, planning and interacting with others.
It is better to discuss a few examples of social control that operate in every day life. It helps in identifying the principles underlying them. We know and observe that children at recess or after school, play games. The games involve rules, and these rules order their conduct. The game does not go haphazardly. There is no game withot rules and if the dispute arises there is an umpire to appeal. Some of the principles which Dewey want’s to highlight through this example are:  the rules are the part of the game they are not outside of it. No rules , then no game; different rules’ then different games.  

As long as the game goes on with smooth pase the players don’t feel that they are submitting to external imposition but that they are playing the game. If an individual feel that a dicision isn’t fair and he may get angry he will n’t objecting the roles but what he claims is a voilation of rules, to one sided and unfair action, so the rules or conduct of the game are fairly standarized. The change in rules is only made to make it more interesting. Now the over all conclusion drawn is that control of individual actions is effected by the whole situation in which individuals are involved, in which trhey share and of which they are cooperative or interactive part.


John Dewey is in favour of practical education learning by doing. Activity based teaching, project method of teaching and skilled focused education are the learning through Dewey’s philosophyical thoughts. He has given the concept of learning through experience and said that education is the series of experience but these experiences should be planned with the principle of continuity and interaction. Each experience could is based on past  experiences and leads towards future experiences.  


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