John Dewey is known as leader of the progressive movement in the history of the American education system and his book, Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education, could be used as a textbook to teach the foundations of the movement. Discrediting all previous educational and philosophic approaches as intellectually incomplete or inaccurate, Dewey first presents a new perspective on the nature of knowledge, education, society and philosophy. One fundamental theme of Dewey’s progressive movement is that education is growth and that growth is, in and of itself, the objective. Rejecting any notion of innate knowledge or of an ideal goal to strive for, the progressive movement calls for growth for its own sake and that this growth be directed toward the benefit of society. This comprehensive work then dissects and devalues popular notions of teaching methods, subject matter and even the duality of work and play and replaces them with the more pragmatic beliefs of the progressive movement.
The central prevailing theme in Dewey’s philosophy is that education is a social function and necessary to the continuity of life within a society. Even pre-industrial, tribal societies had need of education to ensure its continuity and the transference of accumulated knowledge to future generations. These simple societies made use of informal education theories such as imitation, custom and habit through the methods of imitation and memorization of oral traditions to assure consistency of tradition from generation to generation. With the approach of the industrial age and the increased globalization brought about by technology, trade and diplomacy, the necessity of a more...
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...s through real life usage. Despising the idea that schools are mere preparatory institutions making the young ready to enter real society, Dewey envisioned school as a natural part of life, a mini-society unto itself filled with laboratories that could closely replicate the circumstances in the world outside of school allowing students to experiment with different variables and learn the consequences in the safety of the laboratory. He viewed any activity that didn’t carry with it an consequent action or application as a waste of time. For example, the learning of spelling simply for the sake of spelling without the necessary associations with meaning, usage, and context was a futile exercise in regurgitating meaningless symbols.
Dewey, John (2012-05-12). Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education . . Kindle Edition.
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