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John Dewey

  • Date Submitted: 03/27/2011 11:10 PM
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Introduction:
John Dewey is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential educators of the twentieth century. His beliefs that education must engage with and enlarge experience (Smith, 1999) can be found as an ideal around which Constructivist educators rally. His concern with interaction and environments for learning (Smith, 1999) are echoed in contemporary education as well. This paper will explore some of the learning issues originally identified by Dewey, and examine them in light of Constructivist thinking. Finally, applications to adult learning on-line will be identified.
John Dewey:
John Dewey was an educational reformer and philosopher whose prolific writings have widely influenced twentieth century educators; his work has frequently been misrepresented and misunderstood, as well. (Smith, 1999). Dewey saw education to be a necessity of modern life. "As societies become more complex in structure and resources, the need of formal or intentional teaching and learning increases." (Dewey, 1916a, p.5). He also foresaw the need for reality and meaning in learning, for, "there is the danger of creating an undesirable split between the experience gained in more direct associations and what is acquired in school. This danger was never greater than at the present time." (Dewey, 1916a, p.5).
Dewey (1916b) appreciated the importance of experience in the processes of thinking and learning. Experience…"involves change, but change is meaningless transition unless it is consciously connected with the return wave of consequences which flow from it." (Dewey, 1916b, p.1). He emphasized that experience could not be considered separately from one's environment, especially the social context of the environment. "I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself" (Dewey, 1897, p.1). His pragmatic view of education claimed "an essential feature is to maintain the...

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