Analysis of John Dewey
When faced with two radically different types of schooling it is hard to say which will succeed and which will fail. In the first two chapters of Experience and Education, John Dewey analyzes the benefits and the disadvantages of each schooling environment. There is not a school that is completely successful with one hundred percent of their students but no matter the type of school adults are trying to create, these adults have the responsibility to teach their pupils the essentials and provide the ability to learn from experience.
Dewey, in the first chapter, speaks on “Either-or philosophies”, the idea that schools provide students with a right and a wrong way to do things with little to no in-between. The chapter continues with comparing and contrasting the ideas of old and new schooling. He criticizes the old schools for ‘feeding’ information without regard to what children are attaining and criticizes the new school for ignoring the old and focusing on the “present and future.” The Sudbury School practices what is called progressive schooling by never blatantly introducing their students to what many people would consider classic literature, such as Shakespeare, hoping that the students will discover it themselves. Dewey believes that there needs to be some sort of guidance for the children because without giving children and idea of what to look for, they are essentially blind.
Dewey wants schools to achieve an environment almost like the one at KIPP Journey Academy. Children at the Journey Academy are given the essential for their Mathematics learning and taught simple ways to remember these things. Children are then asked to integrate these things into the classroom without a lot of direction from their teacher. One lacking element here though is the discussion or correct and incorrect answers. Though at the KIPP Harmony School, Teachers have provided a more traditional learning environment where teachers are focused on addressing, not explaining, incorrect answers. In contrast to the Journey Academy, the Harmony school provides children with the essentials and then the essentials are continuously pushed into the child’s brain.
In the second Chapter Dewey focuses on the necessity for experience in the classroom environment. He believes that much of the education needed is from experience with all things, right and wrong. Both traditional and progressive education doesn’t allow their students to experience new things. One example would be the Sudbury Valley School. Sudbury claims to be a school that teaches the kids nothing but experience. Though allowing students to play video games every single day. When these gaming students were asked about the helpfulness of the games in schools the students responded with a resounding “uhh.” It is true that this schooling does provide students with nearly complete freedom. Though by doing so they take away the child’s real ability to think critically about the world around them. Between the publication of Dewey’s work in 1938 and 2015, much of what Dewey calls “static” schooling has still remained within old and new schooling techniques.