Commentonat least 3 Classmates’Posts (approximately 150 -300 words each)§
– comment must address the R2R prompt and your classmate’s response substantively; if you agree or disagree, provide reasoning and rational evidence from the readings to support your position
– build on the ideas of what your classmate has written and dig deeper into the ideas
– support your views through research you have read or through your personal and/or professional experiences§demonstrate a logical progression of ideas
– comments need to be thoughtful and substantive; not gratuitous comments like “this was a good post” or simply that “you agree”. Simply congratulating the writer on their astute insights is insufficient.
– cite the readings in your response by using proper APA Style format and conventions.
Pragmatism is defined as a philosophical approach in which experience is the fundamental concept. Radu explains that in pragmatism, each experience is based on the interaction between subject and object, between self and its world and represents only the result of the integration of human beings into the environment (Radu, 2011). All in all, pragmatism promotes activity based learning. Pragmatism relates to Dewey’s work in many ways. The most significant being its rejection of traditional learning, and its emphasis on solving problems in a sensible way that suits conditions that really exist rather than obeying fixed theories, ideas, or rules (Cambridge, 2016).
Progressivism is a philosophical concept belonging to ‘new education’, is ‘a Copernican revolution’ in pedagogy, promoting ‘a child-centered school’ (Radu, 2011). Radu states that Dewey’s pedagogic view is not based on his philosophical concept, but al on the social, economic and cultural realities of American society (pg. 87). Progressivism is featured around the learning capacity continuing into adulthood; Dewey called this “permanent education”. Learning is done by doing; this is because Dewey believed authentic knowledge is achieved only through direct experience. Although Dewey though some target methods were necessary when teaching, he did not believe in teachers being forced to stick to routines (Radu 2011). This idea leads to the problem-problem solving method which in short states that in order to solve problem, an individual must: define the problem, analyze the problem, determine possible solutions, propose solutions, evaluate and select a solution, and determine strategies to implement solution. The progressive theory encourages learning through discovery, this allows the learner to acquire knowledge through interest, rather than effort.
Ragu also states that there are reactions against Dewey’s progressive education. Perennialism says that permanence is the fundamental feature of the world; not change. School is intended to promote the permanent values of the past and present. Essentialists believed the main purpose of school was to prepare the youth intellectually, by transmitting cultural heritage. Students learn through theoretical education; by being in direct contact with fundamental values, with what was essential and common for humankind. Reconstructionism criticized the individual tendencies of theory. This theory also felt that Dewey underappreciated the fact of cultural contributions to social changes (pg. 89). Edmonson gives many examples as to how Dewey’s theories are flawed; he states that not only are Dewey’s findings controversial, they are also viewed with antipathy by some (pg. 2). Dianne Ravitch notes John Dewey’s influence in generating at least two of the misconceptions that now cripple American education: the use of schools to solve social and political problems and the depreciation of academics in favor of assorted “activities”. Edmonson believes that Dewey’s education systems are impractical. Overall, when reading Hildreth and Edmondson’s articles the biggest takeaway was that Dewey is criticized for not explaining himself; or being unclear. Edmondson mentions that Dewey promotes freedom in education; but does not really explain what freedom is. He also explains that it is unclear where books fit into the learning process. Hildreth makes similar points stating that Dewey does not Dewey does not articulate exactly how schools should or could bring about reform.
Overall, my belief is that Dewey was well intentioned and genuinely cared about education. After this week’s readings I was shocked to see how many critics Dewey had. Throughout all of my education courses, Dewey has always been praised as a huge contributor to education; which he was. However, his critics make many valid points. Dewey’s ideologies of student experience based learning are amazing. Students are more prone to learn and grow when they are learning in reality. I do believe that Dewey put too much emphasis on the present and future and disregarded the value of the past. History is essential to who we are and where we are today. Although I like the idea of students learning based on their interests and creating their own paths, I also find it to be a disservice to them. There needs to be a balance. There are some skills and knowledge that should be learned. For example, students should learn basic math skills. Those courses should be required whether it is something they are interested in or not. Dewey stressed on the importance of student interest and self-learning. Though those are important factors, it is our job as educators to find ways to help students become interested in subject matter they may not enjoy. I believe elementary school should be used as a place where students are learning that basics and as they grow they should be more free to explore avenues that interest them. This is how high schools and colleges are set up. In high school, students have the freedom of choosing electives that interest them, attending vocational schools and exploring the world around them to see where they will fit in adulthood. College/University also offers the same freedoms.
Progressivism was based on pragmatism and at the time it was introduced, it was a revolution in the American education system. At this time, progressivism was developed in response to America’s developing society. This view was based on Dewey’s education theory, one of the most fundamental ideas being that learning occurred by solving problems. Some of the learning technique or problem solving strategies that Dewey urged be taught in schools included tasks such as “building projects, which were based on the achievement of a plan of an idea. Consumer projects, which were to cultivate aesthetic taste through literature and arts. Problem-solving projects, and exercise projects, which led to the development of skills and abilities” (Radu).
Dewey’s work did not go without criticism. Many people felt that the best way to implement education was through permanence, and if they were to change the way they educated students, they wouldn’t be exposing their students to social realities. Reconstructionism also “criticized the individual tendencies of Dewey’s theory and the fact that the cultural contribution to social changes was under-appreciated” (Radu).
One of the quotes from our readings this week that resonated me was found in Hildreth’s article and states “such philosophical and political reconstruction is essential, Dewey believes, to preserve the American democratic experiment—indeed, to save it from destruction. In order to survive, American democracy must be transformed by a revolution in education, followed by a social and economic revolution. One cannot occur without the other, but education must first be revolutionized because it is “the process through which the needed transformation may be accomplished”. I truly believe in the dangers of saying “well, we’ve always done it this way so that’s why we’re going to continue doing it”. It’s easy to fall into a consistency of teaching the way you’ve always taught because it works and it gets the job done, but I feel that it’s important to question WHY you teach the way you teach and consider ways it can be improved. Many people were against Dewey’s thoughts on education because it was so revolutionary and challenged many others prior beliefs. An important part of education is reflecting and constructively criticizing what and how you teach.
To put it succinctly Pragmatism in the context of Dewey revolves around the idea that experience is the key to actually learning and that knowing develops when we solve problems we encounter in everyday life (Radu, 2). Dewey’s Progressivism stems from Pragmatism in that his student-centered theory is practical from the perspective of students and how they actually learn and also respects personality differences in teachers (Badu, 3). In Dewey’s Progressive schools students learn by “stimulated interest” in subjects that interest them. Other philosopher’s with similar ideas as Dewey include Kilpatrick and his push for project-based learning, Dalton’s individualized study, and Winnetka’s individualized education.
Dewey has definitely had his share of critics over the years. For example, there are those who advocate Perennialism meaning they believe we should continue to focus attention on the great & lasting works from the past (Badu, 4). Edmonson discussed other criticisms of Dewey including those that came from the capitalist business/government class that opposed Dewey’s politics, from religious traditionalists as Dewey did not like religion, Dewey’s poor writing skills, and his ironically dogmatic views opposing anything seen as traditional in education. First and foremost Edmonson saw Dewey’s agenda as being political more so than being about education. Put another way, Dewey’s progressive interventionist big-government politics made him tune out positive aspects of American capitalism.
Hildreth, meanwhile, discussed criticisms of Dewey including for his push away from expert driven models, lack of “core knowledge or coherence”, “faults in logic”, and his lack of definition for the word “social” in his theories. In the give and take between the people and those in power who presumably know more than lay people it is hard to see exactly whose views should win out. Ideally the people in power can find some sort of broad consensus but even then large segments of the population get left behind. It is also important for members of society to have some “core knowledge” that we all know, such as the basic functions of our government and the periodic table, though that concept is also difficult to articulate in a meaningful manner for all citizens. Hofstadlter argued that Dewey provided no appropriate ends for education meaning he did not define what outcomes should be (Hildreth, 31).
My grade school experience was somewhat progressive in that we had a more student-centered curriculum that allowed us freedom in the classroom to choose our assignments and complete individualized contracts. Within this context though we had items on our contracts that our teachers told us we had to complete. We were also guided away from what Dewey would call “mis-educational” endeavors such as rowdy behavior that would disrupt other students from their learning. There were also some “non-educational” activities such as copying definitions of words from the dictionary to memorize. Overall though I do see how our teachers planned lessons to meet state standards which addresses the criticism of Dewey over his lack of “ends” in education. I do also see how my classmates were prepared to learn for jobs that did not exist at the time. This system worked well for me and most of my classmates but I am not sure everyone reached their full potential. One friend’s mother went so far as to send one son to my school and her other to a more traditional school in the district. This leads us to a discussion on charter schools and the school choice movement that I am sure we will address in future modules.