John Dewey


The Revolution: A Novel from Ancient past
John Dewey is one the great and famous thinker of 20th century. His book “Democracy and Education” is one of the most authentic works on education. He was born in America on 25 October 1859. He was awarded degree of PhD at the age of 25 years. Dewy served as a professor of philosophy in many universities of America.

Taneja (2001) claimed that The term pragmatism is derived from Greek word meaning action from which the words practical and practice have come.. Pragmatists are practical people believing in finishing the book here, solving the problem now making the social contact immediately striking the business deals at once. The emphasis of pragmatism is on action rather then on thought.

Thought is subordinated to action it is made an instrument to find the suitable means for action that is why pragmatism is also called instrumentalism. According to this the thinker is the manipulator not is holder he is engaged in his actions.

 Ideas are tools. Thought enlarges its scope and usefulness by testing itself on practical issues. Pragmatism also locates, identifies or traces values in the human experience. Pragmatism is also called experimentalism at first the man thinks in a more and more thoughtful nature as he approaches further he experience new things in his habit structure and doing the hard work which is the right way pragmatism accept everything that has practical consequences.

Pragmatism believe that man is a biological and social organism the man acts only where there is a biological and social stimulation pragmatism examines the great question of what is true? and answer that anything which helps in achieving our purposes and goals of life and works best in advancing and developing our life is true pragmatists’ also lay great stress on environment pragmatism has influenced education to the maximum extent. It makes activity the basis of all teaching and prefers self activity in the context of the cooperative activity. Individual must be respected and education be planned to cater to individual capacities.

 In order to produce creative, resource full and adaptable minds children should have conditions in the school which are conducive to the creation of these qualities of mind children should not be asked to work according to predetermined goals. The children should determine their goals according to their needs. UN like idealist the pragmatists are not interested in lectures because they require the children not to sit still and theoretical exposition they want them to do something children interact with their teachers and with their fellow students.

In pragmatism there is no place for reward and punishment as every activity is to be done in social setting where all the members are equal. The child has to become an enlighten member of the society. In conclusion it must be said that pragmatist philosophy is the practical philosophy having no fixed or absolute standards.


According to Purkait (2006) His philosophy of education is based on change, process, relatively and reconstruction of experience.

Experience is a key word in Dewey’s philosophy of education. It may be destined as interaction of the human organization with the environment. Since living depends on the ability to solve problems therefore education is that which cultivates problem solving skills and methods.

Problem solving method is very useful in developing social qualities in the learner. Problem solving means that education like life is a practice that involves the continuous reconstruction of experience. The experience meant that human purpose and plans could only be validated by acting on them and judging them by their consequences.

Most other philosophies of education emphasize bodies of substantive knowledge us subject matter discipliner. Dewey stresses the methodology or process of problem solving. Education for Dewey is the continual. Reconstruction of experience and knowledge.
Goal of Education:
1) To look after the psychological needs of the child by catering to individual difference.
2) To consider the social conditions in which the child lives.
Dewey’s conception of education:
1) life itself is education
2) Education is growth.
3) Education is the process of the reconstruction of experience.
4) Education is a means to transmit and transform culture.

Steps in the problem solving method:
1) The students must sense a difficulty.
2) Students explore and define it.
3) Once the situation is thoroughly problem surveyed and analyzed, suggestions will arise of how to solve the problem.
4) The student must reason out the implications of these suggestions.
5) He puts he suggestions that most likely to solve the problem.

According to Khalid (1990) Problem solving construction is the concept of experience, or the idea that the totality of events and activities that students carry out under the school direction as part of the planned learning process will produce certain desirable traits or behaviors. The problem method as Dewey presented it seems to have a very logical order of development. But when he gives his views about interest he is talking of psychology also.

In Dewey thinking the logical and psychological are not opposed but mutually dependent. Dewey’s concept of activity and social process brought a change in the old practice of classroom discipline. In the school he had in mind he expected that there would be more noise and disorder than in the conventional one. He believed that when the children would be busy in finding ways and means to solve a common problem there would be much more noise as compared to the class where children sit silently listening to the teacher. He was against the traditional concept of discipline.

He said that the behavior and conduct of the student should not be regulated by artificial means. Instead the teacher should provide them with the right kind of environment so that the activities of the students may go in a co-operative manner. He added that the purpose of discipline should be to develop social attitudes, social interests and social habits. Moreover, this method introduced children to the methods of experimental problem-solving in which mistakes were an important part of learning.

Providing children with ‘first-hand experience, ‘the problematic situations largely of their own making, was the key to Dewey’s pedagogy. He believed that ‘until the emphasis changes to the conditions which make it necessary for the child to take an active share in the personal building up of his own problems and to participate in methods of solving them (even at the expense of experimentation and error) the mind is not really freed’. Dewey gave a new concept of education too. To him education is a necessity of life and a lifelong process and education is not for the future life but it is life itself.

Singh (2007) claimed that the child and the curriculum are simply two limits which define a single process. Just as two points define a straight line, so the present standpoint of the child and the facts and truths of studies define instruction. It is continuous reconstruction, moving from the child's present experience out into that represented by the organized bodies of truth that we call studies.
The old education was largely fixed in subject matter, authoritarian in methods, and mainly passive and receptive from the side of the young. The imagination of educators did not go beyond provision of a fixed and rigid environment of subject matter, one drawn moreover from sources altogether too remote from the experience of the pupil.

On the positive side Dewey was convinced that the ordinary contacts of day to day community life, be they social, economic, cultural or political, provided real and significant learning situations. For Dewey politics was not just a matter of national importance removed from the concern of the ordinary citizen but a matter of vital and immediate interest to the community. He believed that the school should prepare the child for active participation in the life of the community: he believed that education must break down, rather than reinforce, the gap between the experience of schooling and the needs of a truly participatory democracy. The school is primarily a social institution.

Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
Dewey's curriculum in the school was not intended to implement a structured pedagogical plan. It was intended as a curriculum in two senses: firstly it was intended to facilitate research and experimentation into new principles and methods and secondly, it was designed to allow the children to take an experimental approach to their own learning.
The curriculum of the school was to be the testing ground for Dewey's philosophical ideas and their implementation: education is the laboratory in which philosophical distinctions become concrete and are tested. If we are willing to conceive of education as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men, philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education.
According to Khalid (1990) the furniture of the traditional school tells the story of traditional education; it is a story of Submission, immobility, passivity and dependency. In the old system it was the function of teachers to motivate the child - against his/her immediate interests - to learn the established subjects. He said that I know of no more demoralizing doctrine than the assertion that after subject matter has been selected, and then the teacher should make it interesting.
The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but ids there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influence.
The old, subject centered system subdivides each topic into studies; each study into lessons; each lesson into specific facts and formulae, emphasis is put on the upon the logical subdivisions and consecutions of the subject matter, subject matter furnishes the end and it determines method. The child is simply the immature being who is to be matured; he is the superficial being who is to be deepened; his is narrow experience which is to be widened. It is his to receive, to accept. His part is fulfilled when he is ductile and docile. By contrast to the traditional approach Dewey put the pupil at the centre of education as a willful, purposive and active agent in the learning process.
The child is the starting point, the centre, and the end. His development, his growth, is the ideal. ... To the growth of the child all studies are subservient; they are instruments valued as they serve the needs of growth. Personality, character, is more than subject matter. Not knowledge or information, but self-realization, is the goal. To posses all the world of knowledge and lose one's own self is as awful a fate in education as in religion.
The curriculum of the school operated on three simple principles which informed Dewey's educational philosophy.
The first principle was that the business of the school is to train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living - to help them to grow into community: the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself.
The second principle was that the foundation of all educative activity must be in the instinctive, impulsive activities of the child, and not in the presentation and application of structured, external material.

If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction; if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert mass. Finally the laboratory school promoted the child's individual tendencies and activities. These were to be organized and directed to promote the idea of co-operative living

The child's relation to the curriculum is not the subordination of the child to the existing established knowledge, nor is it the abandonment of established existing knowledge for an anarchic child centered approach.
The young child is not conscious of subject barriers; he views knowledge as a key to life and his questions concerning the world around him range over the whole field of knowledge. The curriculum should reflect this attitude of the child and be seen more as an integral whole rather than as a logical structure containing conveniently differentiated parts. But later the child must come to learn the ways in which human knowledge has been structured into subjects or disciplines. But this is not the starting point. It is a development on the journey.


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