John Dewey was an American educator and philosopher. He believed in learning by doing, which is still a prevalent belief. John Dewey was also known as the founder of the pragmatism movement in education. He believed that
“a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”
According to Dewey, philosophy is,
“a method of locating and interpreting the more serious of the conflicts that occur in life, and a method of projecting ways for dealing with them: a method of moral and political diagnosis and prognosis”.
Dewey’s philosophy of education lays stress on the importance of imagination. He believed that imagination drives thinking and learning forward. It enables teachers to provide opportunities for students to suspend judgment, explore doubtful possibilities, and engage in the playful consideration of possibilities.
Aims of John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education
The main aims of John Dewey’s philosophy of education are as follows.
“To him, school is a social institution. The school should be organized in such a way that the activities of the outer world are reflected.”
Education occurs when individuals participate in social activities. He believed that the school is an active instrument of social change and progress.
Education is Life
Dewey believed that
“education is not a preparation for life; it is life itself. The child lives in the present. The future is meaningless to him. Hence it is absurd to expect him to do things for some future preparation. As the child lives in the present, the educational process will be naturally based on the present needs and interests of the child.”
Education is Experience
Dewey emphasized education by, of, and for, experience. He believed that
“Every new experience in education. An old experience is replaced by a new experience. The human race has gained experience in its struggle to meet the needs of life. This ‘struggle for existence is a continuous process.”
He added that education helps,
“the process of the reconstruction of experience, giving it a more socialized value through the medium of increased individual efficiency.”
Education should Combine Theory and Practice: Dewey believed that education should create a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical activities. He emphasized both thought and action. He said that abstract ideas should be followed by concrete applications.
Methods of Teaching
Dewey has revealed several methods of teaching based on his principles which are as follows.
- Firstly, a social environment is highly essential for learning.
- Secondly, learning begins only when the learner has an interest in learning.
- Thirdly, children are interested in learning things that are related to their life.
- A child begins to learn when he feels active.
- Lastly, children take any fact as a whole.
Dewey believed that life is prone to change and hence, a changeable life cannot have unchangeable aims. Hence, education cannot have any predetermined aims.