John Dewey Characterizes Traditional Education

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In the following, i will discuss John Dewey and his ideologies of experience in educational settings, and the significance of experience in educational settings according to said ideologies. John Dewey deduces the philosophy behind traditional education and progressive education by characterizing the two systems. Dewey characterizes traditional education as a system that focuses on a set of skills that is appointed by educators and learned through obedience. He characterizes progressive education as a system that rejects the traditional ideologies in the belief that students should have the freedom to pursue individual learning through experiences. Progressive educations still believes [paralleled with traditional education] that teachers should transfer knowledge to their students, but methods should be modified so that the students are more actively participating the process of learning, signifying the “experience in education” and the importance of it all. Dewey breaks down the theory of progressive education into eight parts, of which i will provide a personal interpretation of his conceptualizations. Specific segments that i particularly thought emphasized experience in education was The Need of a Theory of Experience p8, criteria of experience p11, social control p 21, and experience the means and goal of education p 39.

Chapter 2, the need of a theory of experience outlines the new philosophy of education and how it should connect experience with experimental philosophy. In this chapter, Dewey explains the impact of positive experiences, or educative experiences which lead to future positive experiences that are necessary for the acquisition of knowledge. This is referred to as the “experimental continuum” which asserts that educators need to produce quality experiences that will lead to more future educational experiences. However, not all experiences are equated to educative experiments, as some experiences are miseducative. Any experience that is miseducative are ones that have the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of future educative experiecnes. [chapter 2 p 8 dewey] for instance, an experience that is unenjoyable for its subject, or even traumatic, might have this adverse effect on its subject.

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Chapter 3: Criteria of Experience summarizes the stipulations on experimental continuum. Education must focus on growing or developing, not only physically but intellectually and morally- which produces the principal of continuity. Educators must discriminate between ways in which experiences are educative and ones that are mis-educative. The concept of “interaction” and “situation” are interrelated and inseparable because and experience is a transaction taking place that includes an individual, the environment, and the subject. [p16 chapter 3 dewey] The theory of continuity means that the future has to be taken into account when considering every stage of the educational process. Educators need to choose the proper conditions that they subjects are learning so they can have a worth-while experience.

Chapter 4: social control outlines the interactions between a whole situation and the individuals involved. Dewey expands on the idea of educative and miseducative experience by stating that education needs to take into account that control of individual actions is effected by the whole situation in which individuals are involved, in which they are cooperative or interacting parts. For example, individuals participating in a sport follow the rules of the game in order to play the game. Those who take part in the sport do not feel like they are being bossed around by an individual because they are being regulated by a set of rules or social norms. This idea illustrates the general idea of social control of individuals without the violation of the individuals freedom. In social control, no one person establishes order unless its for the benefit of the whole group, and the individuals are a part of a community not outside of it.

Teachers should limit the instances in which they untilize authority in a personal manner towards an individual, only excersizing this approach when it is on behalf of the betterment of the rest of the group. This is considered a progressive approach to social control. In traditional schools, teachers were set at odds with their students because teachers played a role tat retired undivided obedience to the teacher. In new schools, or progressive schools, the primary sources of social control resides in nature of the work done [social enterprise] in which individuals can feel a responsible role in the contribution towards work. Exceptions in this ideology are the “weakness in control” in progressive schools that may arise from failures to adequately prepare for situations that are educative. [p.24 chapter 4 dewey]. The rejection of social interactions in schools is not necessary, some forms of social intercourse are appropriate and encouraged for development. This all ties into the overall idea of experimental continuum because Dewey asserts that education is based on experience in which there is a process of shared commonality within a educative setting.

Chapter 8: experience- the means and goals of education, in this chapter, Dewey reinstates the pivotal ideologies of experience in education. Education must be based on experience if it is to accomplish its end for both learners and society. [p 39 ch 8 dewey] Dewey recognizes that the process towards a new education system is a difficult transition. It can be dangerous if an educator misunderstands what an educational experience is. Regardless, it doesn’t matter if the traditional or progressive education is better, but what is worthy or receiving the title “education” is imperative.

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John Dewey Characterizes Traditional Education. (2019, Feb 22). Retrieved from