The Revolution: A novel from prehistoric times
In 1735 he worked as a tutor to the two sons of M. De Malby in Lyon. This job developed his interest in education and he was motivated to prepare his first treatise, called “project for the Education of M. De Sainte- Maria”. Sainte- Maria paid a great attention towards the early social training, being the elder of the two boys. In 1742 he moved to Paris. There he became a close friend of David Diderot, who was to commission him to write articles on music for the French Encyclopedia. Through the sponsorship of a number of society women he became the personal secretary to the French ambassador to Venice - a position from which he was quickly fired for not having the ability to put up with a boss whom he viewed as stupid and arrogant.
During his stay in Paris’ in 1750 a competition was held by the academy of Dijon he got an opportunity to participate in an essay competition. The topic of the essay was “Has the restoration of the arts and sciences contributed to the purifications of the morals”. He began his literal fame and anti social-bias by this opportunity. Themes of these essays were: that human are by nature good and it is society's institutions that corrupt them. The essay earned him considerable fame and he reacted against it. He seems to have fallen out with a number of his friends and the (high-society) people with whom he was expected to mix. This was a period of reappraisal.
On a visit to Geneva Jean-Jacques Rousseau reconverted to Calvinism (and gained Gene van citizenship). He attributed the existing operations and corruption of the society to the advancement of civilization and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as "artificial" and "corrupt" and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man. In 1753 he wrote his second book “The Origin of Inequality among Men” here again he discussed about the cause of dissimilarity among men is the civilization.
Rousseau's essay, "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences" (1750), argued that the advancement of art and science had not been beneficial to mankind. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful, and crushed individual liberty. He concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion. He wrote that the decline and fall of ancient people coincided with the growth and knowledge among them. The days of their poverty, simplicity and ignorance were also the days of their strength, their happiness and their innocence. However he believed that Education is a necessary evil. ‘The Social Contract” and “Emile” came up in 1762.
Rousseau says that education comes to us by nature, man and things. Here he is regarding nature as equal to endowment. According to nature is repeatedly interpreted to the development of a child. The naturalistic hierarchy of educational objectives represents a complete reversal of traditional purposes of the school, chiefly, perfecting of man’s highest powers via study of literature, philosophy, and classics. (Rusk, R.R., 1956 & Khalid, 1974).
Rousseau said that a child is born good, free from all sins. After the influence of society he learns evil. In Christian era a child is born with mortal sin and therefore he was treated harshly. Rousseau focused on that period of a child where he develops different stages and builds his character. (Khalid, 1974).
According to Rousseau as cited in Khalid, 1974, “Childhood has its place in the sequence of human life; the man must be treated as man and the child as a child”. He emphasized that a child has different capacity of learning and he builds his character gradually. He should be treated differently, not like adult humans and being a learner he should be given enough space to learn and grow on his own because in the end he is the result of the society. People are always looking for an adult in the society without even knowing what a child is. Rousseau was the first one to give childhood its rightful place. He felt the need of education according to the demands of a child. (Khalid, 1974)
In 1767 he returned to France under a false name (Renou), although he had to wait until to 1770 to return officially. A condition of his return was his agreement not to publish his work. He continued writing, completing his Confessions and beginning private readings of it in 1770. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was banned from doing this by the police in 1771 following complaints by former friends such as Diderot and Madame d'Epinay who featured in the work. The book was eventually published after his death in 1782. (Rusk, R.R., 1956)
For pragmatists -- knowledge of the world is impossible to separate from actions upon it. There is no reality out there -- both facts and values are products of men interacting with an environment and shaping it to their wills. Society, for Dewey, is something free men create out of their intellects and imaginations. An advocate of social malleability, he speaks of men reconstructing what they have experienced in order to impose a particular character on it, thereby bringing an explicit reality into being. Men are free to choose their own way of thinking and to create whatever reality they want to embrace. However, a man’s mind is conditioned by the collective thinking of other people. The mind is thus a social phenomenon -- truth is what works for the group.
It is participation in the common life of democratic society that realizes the freedom of the individual and produces growth in him and in society. Democracy expresses the consensus of the collective -- society is a moral organism with a “general will.” Each man is to do his duty by adapting himself to the ever-changing views of the group.
Men simply act. They usually do not and need not reflect before acting. The goal of thought is merely to reconstruct the situation in order to solve the problem. If the proposal, when implemented, resolves the issue, then the idea is pragmatically true. Truth cannot be known in advance of action. One must first act and then think. Only then can reality be determined.
Value judgments are to be made according to desires based on feelings. The test of one’s desire is its congruity with the majority of other men’s wishes, feelings, and values at that time. These, of course, can be examined and abandoned in a future context. Value judgments are instrumental, never completed, and therefore are corrigible. In the end it is feeling, for the pragmatist, that is paramount.
Dewey is primarily concerned with the democratic ideal and its realization in every sphere of life. He advocates education as a way to reconstruct children according to the pragmatist vision of man. Child-centered, rather than subject-centered, education treats the student as an acting being and therefore is focused on discrete, experiential projects. Dewey dismisses as irrelevant the teaching of fundamental knowledge such as reading, writing, math, and science. Both the educator and the students are to be flexible and tentative. The purpose of a school is to foster social consciousness. The child is to be taught to transcend the assimilation of truths and facts by learning to serve and adapt to others and to comply with the directives of their representatives. A disdain for reason and knowledge is thus combined with the practice of altruism (otherism) and collectivism.
Like Marx, Dewey comprehended and appreciated the conflictual essence of the Hegelian dialectic. Dewey stressed the clash in the education process between the child and the curriculum and between the potential and talent of the student and the structure of an outmoded school system. The traditional curriculum, loaded down with formal subjects, was unsuited to the child’s active and immediate experience. Dewey saw children as alienated from their academic work because of a contradiction between the interests of the school and the real interests of the students. There was an incongruity between the values, goals, and means embodied in the experience of a mature adult and those of an undeveloped, immature being. The teaching of abstract, general principles, and eternal and external truths was beyond a child’s understanding and a barrier to the authentic growth and development of the child.
Dewey’s new school would become a vehicle for the de-alienation and socialization of the child. The school would be an embryonic socialist community in which the progress of the student could only be justified by his relation to the group. Dewey’s activity method and manual training could produce a collective occupational spirit in the school.
Dewey, like Marx, was convinced that thought is a collective activity in which the individual simply acts as a cell in the social body. For Dewey, the individual is only a conduit conveying the group’s influence, and a person's beliefs derive from others through tradition, education, and the environment. Dewey’s notion that thought is collective, along with his enmity toward human reason and individual responsibility, led to his advocacy of collectivist economic planning. For Dewey, cognition is an activity of the group or society as a whole and innovations are the products of collective science and technology, rather than the creations of individual thinkers and doers.
John Dewey’s progressive model of active learning promoted a revolt against abstract learning and attempted to make education an effective tool for integrating culture and vocation. Dewey was responsible for developing a philosophical approach to education called “experimentalism” which saw education as the basis for democracy. His goal was to turn public schools into indoctrination centers to develop a socialized population that could adapt to an egalitarian state operated by intellectual elite. Disavowing the role of the individual mind in achieving technological and social progress, Dewey promoted the group, rather than the teacher, as the main source of social control in the schools. Denying the ideas of universal principles, natural law, and natural rights, Dewey emphasized social values and taught that life adjustment is more important than academic skills.
Dewey explained that the subject matter and moral lessons in the traditional curricula were meant to teach and inspire, but were irrelevant to the students’ immediate action experiences. The contradiction between the students’ real interests and those of the traditional school alienated students from their schoolwork. School-age children were caught between the opposing forces of immature, undeveloped beings and the values, meanings, and aims of subject matter constructed by a mature adult. Dewey believed that students’ energy, talent, and potential could not be realized within the structure of an archaic school system.
Dewey and other members of the Progressive movement wanted a predictable method for providing a common culture and of instilling Americans with democratic values. As a result, by the end of the nineteenth century, a centrally controlled, monopolistic, comprehensive, and bureaucratic public education system was deemed to be essential for America’s future.