John Dewey By: Dales, Covey, Braaten

John Dewey

Born: October 20th, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont

Died: June 1st, 1952 in New York City

Dewey was an American psychologist, philosopher, educator, social critic and political activist. He was perhaps the most influential thinker when it came to education in the 20th century. His philosophical beliefs included: concerns with interaction, reflection, experience, interests in community and democracy. These were brought together to form a highly suggestive educative form.
Dewey's theory on experience continues to be a much read topic and discussed not only within education, but also in psychology and philosophy. His views continue to strongly influence the design of innovative educational approaches, such as in outdoor education, adult training, and experiential therapies.
Between the decades of the 1920s-1930s, John Dewey became famous for pointing out that the authoritarian, strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students' actual experiences.
Dewey became the champion, or rather philosophical father of experiential education, or as it was then referred to, progressive education. However, he was also critical of completely "free, student-driven" education because students often don't know how to structure their own learning experiences for maximum benefit.

John Dewey's Major Books Include:

    • Democracy and Education (1916)
    • Logic (1938)
    • Experience and Education (1938)

Issues that concerned John Dewey:
Education, domestic and international politics, and numerous social movements, women's suffrage, progressive education, educator's rights, the Humanistic movement, and world peace.
John Dewey's Influence Amongst Professionals:
John Dewey's influence can be seen in many of the writers that have influenced the development of informal education over the same period. For example, Coyle, Kolb, Lindeman and Rogers drew extensively on his work.
Philosophy on Learning:
Dewey believed that learning had to be beyond textbooks, facts and figures. He figured that accumulating information in such a way was not learning and that students were prone to forgetting the information. He thought that true learning occurred when students use their understanding of their past to understand their future. Learning also happens when students continually and consistently mold their viewpoints and understanding of the world. For example, Dewey believed that students should be involved in real-life tasks and challenges:

· Math could be learnt via learning proportions in cooking or figuring out how long it would take to get from one place to another by mule
· History could be learned by experiencing how people lived, geography, what the climate was like and how plants and animals grew

View on the Relationship between Learning and Reality
Dewey believed that education belonged in the realm of reality. He did not believe that anything beyond reality had to do with pedagogy and learning. Dewey liked to think that common experience was everything that humans had access to. He truly believed that man can only learn by experience and through experiences of others. He was impressed with those who were logical thinkers and could solve and understand situations in the everyday world. He believed that the scientific approach was really impressive as well. Because Dewey was a practical thinker, he believed that teaching and learning both should be practical as well. In his opinion, any potential existence outside of the earthly vessel was irrelevant.
Dewey aimed to integrate the school with society, and the processes of learning with the actual problems of life, by a thoroughgoing application of the principles and practices of democracy. The school system would be open to all on a completely free and equal basis without any restrictions or segregation on account of color, race, creed, national origin, sex or social status. Group activity under self-direction and self-government would make the classroom a miniature republic where equality and consideration for all would prevail.
This type of education would have the most beneficial social consequences. It would tend to erase unjust distinctions and prejudices. It would equip children with the qualities and capacities required to cope with the problems of a fast-changing world. It would produce alert, balanced, critical-minded individuals who would continue to grow in intellectual and moral stature after graduation.
The Progressive Education Association, inspired by Dewey’s ideas, later codified his doctrines as follows:
1. The conduct of the pupils shall be governed by themselves, according to the social needs of the community.
2. Interest shall be the motive for all work.
3. Teachers will inspire a desire for knowledge, and will serve as guides in the investigations undertaken, rather than as task-masters.
4. Scientific study of each pupil’s development, physical, mental, social and spiritual, is absolutely essential to the intelligent direction of his development.
5. Greater attention is paid to the child’s physical needs, with greater use of the out-of-doors.
6. Cooperation between school and home will fill all needs of the child’s development such as music, dancing, play and other extra-curricular activities.
7. All progressive schools will look upon their work as of the laboratory type, giving freely to the sum of educational knowledge the results of their experiments in child culture. These rules for education sum up the theoretical conclusions of the reform movement begun by Colonel Francis Parker and carried forward by Dewey at the laboratory school he set up in 1896 with his first wife in connection with the University of Chicago. With his instrumentalist theory of knowledge as a guide, Dewey tried out and confirmed his new educational procedures there with children between the ages of four and fourteen.

The Center for Dewey Studies:
There is a center in Southern Illinois at the University which was established in 1961, known as the "Dewey Project". This center is known for the home of which projects and resources are done that focus on the life and work of the American philosopher and educator John Dewey.
This center has become the center point of research on Dewey's life and work. Due to its easy accessible location it is possible for visitors to come in and see the resources and get professional expertise from the faculty and staff of the Department of Philosophy along with many others.