Foundations of John Dewey's Educational Theory

Foundations of John Dewey's Educational Theory

Foundations of John Dewey's Educational Theory

Foundations of John Dewey's Educational Theory

Excerpt

IT IS AS WELL KNOWN as anything might be in the realm of education that John Dewey's ideas have enjoyed wide influence in educational thinking and discussion, both in America and in other countries. Throughout the literature there are constant references to his theories, and there is hardly an intelligent discussion of the theory or practice of schooling which does not, at some point and in some manner, take his suggestions into account. Any genuine concern for the quality of our educational processes and their products leads, then, to some assessment of his theories. Help with this appraisal may rightfully be expected from those writings which support and those which attack his ideas, from those intended to interpret and clarify his position, and from those which describe practices purportedly derived from his theories. That such assistance is available from these sources is, of course, undeniable. But it is far from true that there is perfect agreement and understanding in all of the reflections and discussions involving Dewey's ideas. On the contrary, it is evident that among his several critics, as well as among his many followers, and between the two groups, there are charges of misinterpretations which lead to uncertainty and confusion in regard to the meanings he sought to express.

As an illustration, Professor Ulich has seen a shift in Dewey's thinking occurring about 1930. He implies that Dewey wavered in his instrumentalism after this time and came more to a faith in ideals lying beyond experimentation. Ulich has written: "In the second period of his thought, Dewey's whole conception of values received a character of definiteness which lifts it out of mere experimentation into a sphere of persistent validity." On the other hand, Professor Childs writes that . . .

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