“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
This book is consisted on eight parts, in first part John Dewey talks about the traditional and progressive education. Second book is about the Need of a Theory of Experience, in third part he sets the criteria of Experience. In part four he explains about the Social Control in life and further in part five he elaborates the Nature of Freedom. Then he continues with the Meaning and purpose of freedom in part six. Part seven is about
Progressive Organization of Subject Matter and in the last part he tells the Means and Goal of Education.
John Dewey is the Modern Father of Experience and Education. The greatest educational thinker of 20th century. His idea was that children came to school to do things and live in a community which gave real, guided experiences which foster their capacity to contribute to society. He believed that students should be involved in the real life tasks and challenges. His views continue to strongly influence the design of innovate educational approaches such as, in out door education, adult raining and experiential therapies.
Experience is the main theme as well as the goal of education for John Dewey in this book. He says, “Progressive education, to accomplish its goals, must be based on intelligently directed development of the possibilities inherent in ordinary experience.”
Traditional education has been criticized as one that imposes on students from the outside and from above by teachers. Students’ limited experiences make the adult nature of the imposed material irrelevant and hard to understand. Progressive education has arisen, in part, because of dissatisfaction with traditional education. It offers freedom from the static nature of traditional education and growth through students’ present experience.
Further he talks about that all experience is not educative. Experiences, as in the traditional schools, can be mis-educative if they are static, don’t contribute to students’ growth, or don’t lead students to understand or appreciate later experience. The primary justification of progressive schools is that, by providing better experience, they provide students with better preparation for lifetime appreciation, independence, and development. However, progressive education, when it is done right, is not simple.
If we believe in the democratic ideal, why wouldn’t we want children to have experience with democratic social arrangements and positive interactions, as in progressive schools? The manner in which students learn is as important as what subject-matter they learn; they should be taught in a manner consistent with their becoming positively interactive, democratic, and dynamic learners.
He says that everyone experiences social control in life, but this does not have to represent autocratic rule. Social control of individual actions, by agreement and by the members of a group for the benefit of the members of the group, is common and accepted. Teachers should act or speak firmly, when needed, in behalf of the group. Students should be participants in group planning as well as activities. The teacher should
be a member of the group, the most mature and experienced member. Children should learn manners and should use them when participating, planning, and interacting with others.
For Dewey the most important freedom is freedom of intelligence. Freedom of movement does not automatically create freedom of intelligence, but it can be a means to that end, since it can allow the teacher to know the child better and the child to know himself better. Freedom should be of a type that helps students learn to control their impulses and desires. The ideal aim of education is to create intelligent self-control. He says that individual freedom is achieved with the ability to identify desires and create a plan that makes those desires or ideas into realities. It is a teacher’s obligation to provide students with the opportunity to participate actively in the process of creating such a plan of action. : Traditional education has been criticized as failing to teach critical discrimination and the ability to reason. The scientific method should be used to derive the significance of everyday experience and subject matter as well as discovery of the potentialities inherent in experience. Any study must fall within the scope of ordinary, everyday experience.
For Dewey Progressive education, to accomplish its goals, must be based on intelligently directed development of the possibilities inherent in ordinary experience. Those who think progressive education is not successful or valuable are doing it wrong. Progressive education can only succeed when certain conditions apply: Primarily, this involves use of sound standards and methods to achieving its goals, which are based on providing the best educational experience possible to create confident, self-controlled, and capable citizens. Experience is the means as well as the goal.
Analyzing both "traditional" and "progressive" education, Dr. Dewey here insists that neither the old nor the new education is adequate and that each is mis educative because neither of them applies the principles of a carefully developed philosophy of experience. Many pages of this volume illustrate Dr. Dewey's ideas for a philosophy of experience and its relation to education. He particularly urges that all teachers and educators looking for a new movement in education should think in terms of the deeper and larger issues of education rather than in terms of some divisive about education.