Critical Reflection and Developing Practice

According to Seifert and Sutton, ‘He argued, for example, that if students indeed learn primarily by building their own knowledge, then teachers should adjust the curriculum to fit students’ prior knowledge and interests as fully as possible. He also argued that a curriculum could only be justified if it related as fully as possible to the activities and responsibilities that students will probably have later, after leaving school.’

Dewey mostly believed that students learn through a hands-on approach. He supported the need to learn by doing. This was also his belief about teachers as well as his support that students and teachers must learn together.

Dewey retired in 1930 but was immediately appointed professor emeritus of philosophy in residence at Columbia and held that post until his eightieth birthday in 1939. The previous year he had published his last major educational work, Experience and Education. In this series of lectures, he clearly restated his basic philosophy of education and recognized and rebuked the many excesses he thought the Progressive education movement had committed.

He chastised the Progressives for casting out traditional educational practices and content without offering something positive and worthwhile to take their place. He offered a reformulation of his views on the intimate connection between learning and experience and challenged those who would call themselves Progressives to work toward the realization of the educational program he had carefully outlined a generation before.

Dewey ‘defined the educational process as a “continual reorganization, reconstruction, and transformation of experience”, for he believed that it is only through experience that man learns about the world, and only by the use of his experience, that man can maintain and better himself in the world’.

According to Soltis, some of Dewey’s arguments are ‘Thus, Dewey argued, the schools did not provide genuine learning experiences but only an endless amassing of facts, which were fed to the students, who gave them back
and soon forgot them.’