John Deweys Progressive Education and its Application to the Third World Countries

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It has been a heated debate between educators, psychologists, or even policy makers what should be taken as the appropriate teaching-learning process. Traditional education and progressive education seem to be two strong contender for the proper methodology. The former one believes that educational institutions deal with a more purely academic objective which is universal in nature. It seeks the development of the students mental ability in particular and more generally transfer the present cultural to the next generation.

On the contrary, the latter one is visualized educational institution not merely as an center of academic activities rather considers it similar to social service agencies whose intention is to prepare them for different aspects of our life; such as social, political, and economic. Dewey’s educational philosophy is being considered as progressive education, or sometimes as experimental education. In this paper, I would like to show that his view on Experience and Education is relativistic in nature that prevents public institutions of the third world countries for adopting, and eventually implementing it.

I will discuss Dewey’s view of progressive education and how does it differ from traditional education in section I. After that, I elaborate the theory of relativism in order to show that Dewey’s progressive education is a kind of relativism . In the following section, I focus on the issue why his view cannot be applied to the third world countries with emphasis on Bangladesh in particular.

Despite the analysis of traditional’ and progressive’ education, Experience and Education also shed light on Dewey’s key terms continuity’ and interaction’ in addition to experience’. Experience is more broad than genuine education since all experiences are not genuinely or equally educative though all genuine education are stemmed from experience. Whether an experience is educative or mis-educative depends on two principles; (i) the principle of the continuity of experience and (ii) the principle of interaction. Continuity means that each experience takes from the past and has an effect on the future experience of the individual.

Consequently, the quality of subsequent experience is modified by continuity. Interaction, the second principle, describes the aspects of experience as they relate to the environment. An experience should have appropriate interaction between objective and internal conditions. These two conditions conjointly form situation’ and mutual adaptation’ of them is necessary to authentic teaching and learning according to Dewey. Thus, the intermingle of continuity and interaction provide the measure of the educative significance and value of an experience.

Everyone is experiencing the social control in life which does not violate the personal freedom as long as it is agreed and accepted by the individual being part of the group and acting on behalf of the personal and group’s interest. We can group freedom into two types; external (physical) and internal (intellectual and moral). They are inseparable from each other; hence restricting physical freedom can inhibit intellectual and moral freedom.

Freedom given by progressive education allows the students to identify desires and create a plan that makes those desires or ideas into realities as Dewey stated that freedom is “the power to frame purposes and to execute or carry into effect “. A purpose is an interaction between the internal states of the student and the objective conditions and circumstances of the environment involves, (1) observation of surrounding conditions; (2) knowledge of what has happened in similar situations in the past; and (3) judgment which puts together what is observed and what is recalled to see what they signify.

Dewey said that since the material that was learned in traditional school was based on the past, some have misinterpreted this as a call for progressive schools to ignore the past; however, “the achievements of the past provide the only means at command for understanding the present”. Also the methods of science (analysis and synthesis) should be used to help students derive the significance of everyday experience. Dewey stressed on that the fundamental issue is not of new versus old education but what is important is providing education with the philosophy of experience.

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John Deweys Progressive Education and Its Application to the Third World Countries. (2020, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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