How We Think: Dewey

“How we think”
By John Dewey.

John Dewey in his book “How w think” argues that thinking is a natural process like breathing and heartbeat. Therefore it is impossible to teach some one to think. However it is possible to help someone thinking. This is the duty of the teacher to provide such kind of encouraging environment which helps the child to stimulate creative thinking.
In the fifteenth chapter “the recitation and the training of thought” he discusses the importance of recitation in the process of teaching and learning. During the process the teacher has the closest contact with the students which influence their language habits. It also helps the teacher to provide guidance during the activity which indirectly helps the teacher for observation about the process of teaching and learning. Recitation is an instrument for those teachers who are skillful.
            Before discussion on recitation versus reflection it is important to understand the meaning of recitation. It means “to recite is to cite again, to repeat and to tell over and over. If the teacher does not understand the real meaning of recitation then it is only the rehearing of secondary information which leads towards memorization. The purpose of memorization is to produce correct answers at the proper time.
According to Dewey the aim of education in and out of the school at all ages develop a type of critical thinking that is applicable to solve the problems. Then he discusses the Herbartians’ teaching method which is based on five steps;
  1. (a) Preparation
(b) Statement of aim
  1. Presentation
  2. Comparison/ association
  3. Generalization
  4. Application
The teachers mostly use this method in teaching and learning process but these steps make a child a passive learner. Because the process lead them to neglect the impotence of natural tendencies and to over stress the dominant role of teachers in the creation of interests and training of thought. This process only deals with thought simply as an incident in the process of information. The teachers do not develop the critical thinking with the help of formal instruction method because their problem is lack of preparation for the lesson. If the teachers reflect critically before interacting with the students then they can develop critical thinking. The following questions will help the teachers in achieving the objectives.
    • What preparations have my pupils for attacking this subject?
    • What familiar experiences of theirs are available?
    • How shell I present the matter so as to fit economically and effectively into their present equipment?
    • What pictures shall I show?
    • What comparisons shall I lead them to draw, what similarities to recognize?
    • What is the general principle toward which the whole discussion should point as its conclusion/
    • By what applications shall I try to fix, to clear up and to make real the grasp of this general principal?

 For the purpose the teachers should aware of the interests and the natural tendencies of their students rather than the inculcation of knowledge. The teacher should provide them opportunities to learn in natural way.
John Dewey believed in giving the child great freedom but the teacher has regulate it.  The teacher must ensure that the opportunities which are provided in the class should fulfill the individual needs as well as group requirements. The teacher is supposed to supervise children’s activities for helping and guiding them according to their inborn needs. The teacher’s is not so much imparting knowledge as to create in them the interest for knowledge. He/she should not destroy the initiative of the child but he/she is there to guard it.


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