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ES2307: Progressive Education Week 2 Dewey and the American Tradition Tutor: Joan Walton.

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Presentation on theme: "ES2307: Progressive Education Week 2 Dewey and the American Tradition Tutor: Joan Walton."— Presentation transcript:

1 ES2307: Progressive Education Week 2 Dewey and the American Tradition Tutor: Joan Walton

2  Widespread agreement that aim of education was to provide for spiritual salvation of the individual  No agreement about the methods or concepts  Strong influence of Calvinists and Evangelical protestants  Horace Bushnell (congregationalist minsiter) advocated play in relation to spiritual growth  Influence of Kindergarten grew.  Lydia Marie Child’s The Mother’s Book (1831) mothers should not interfere “with the influence of the angels” as their children “come to them from heaven, with their little souls full of innocence and peace(p.1)

3  Stood against prevailing orthodoxy  Challenged Calvinists’ view of innate depravity of the child: “Of all the impious doctrines which the dark imagination of man ever conceived, this is the worst.”  Influenced by Pestalozzi, became central figure in liberation of influential New England intelligentsia  Infant education began in America designed for “educational experimentation as much as social reform”  Could be seen as forerunners of kindergartens.  Alcott aimed to nurture the organic growth of the child, rather that channel them in pre-designated directions

4  Alcott’s assistant  Championed the kindergarten  The school was designed to ‘address and cultivate the imagination and the heart of the child’.  Alcott saw child develop in two distinct phases – the animal and the spiritual.  The spiritual only emerged when the adult had taken it through a process of cultivation through a number of ‘conversations’.  Aim to conquest lower animal nature by higher morality

5  Alcott’s school can be seen as an early example of a progressive philosophy at work  Conversations focused more on the development of the hart and the imagination, rather than just filling head with moral prescriptions.  The child was directly participation in own education by ensuring that impulses for reform and self-recognition came form within, and were not imposed externally.  This work can be seen as developing a more humane understanding of children.

6 Stimulated range of questions:  What is the nature of childhood?  What is the desired method and content of education?  When should schooling begin?  What is the role of the mother in relation to education?  What should be the balance between mental and moral educaiton?

7  Industrialisation led to demand for more vocational work-force  William Torrey Harris: education should see “interest …as subordinate to the higher question of the choice of the course of study that will correlate the child with the civilization into which he is born” (1896:3)  John Dewey saw the value of education as being for the social as well as the individual good.  Dewey believed that many of the world problems stemmed from a lack of democracy

8  Important pioneering figure in American democratic tradition.  Dewey saw Parker as the ‘father of progressive education’.  Developed a specific educational scheme in schools in Massachusetts.  Tasked with applying learning to real life situations – e.g. writing letters.  Set curriculum abandoned; creative techniques introduced – e.g. reading magazines, geography trips.

9  School was organised as a ‘model home, a complete community and embryonic democracy’ (1984:450)  His ideas borrowed extensively from Pestalozzi and Froebel.  He saw the child as innately good; and the role of the teacher was to release the latent impulses towards learning, inherent in every child.

10  Was greatly influenced by his distaste at what he saw were the evils of industrialisation, which created disharmonious communities  The School and Society (1899) – lament of old rural way of life, which celebrated close familial ties, and sense of community. “ We cannot overlook the importance for educational purposes of the close and intimate acquaintance got with nature at first hand, with real things and materials, with the actual process of their manipulation, and the knowledge of their social necessities and uses” (1899: 23-4)

11  Dewey’s philosophy: school was not just a preparation for life, but it was a representation of life itself.  School should be a manifestation of democratic ideals, and should have a purpose of improving the external world.  Educational change was influential in the development of social change.  ‘Democracy’ was seen to involve aspects of the political, social and the individual.  Not specifically child-centred- the role of the teacher was to prepare children for roles in future society.

12  So is it Dewey’s view that education is to promote new values in society, or encourage students to improve on the old?  Dewey was not a radical  “There is always the danger in a new movement that in rejecting the aims and methods of that which it would supplant, it may develop its principles negatively rather than positively and constructively (1938:6)  His understanding of the term democracy serves to underpin theories of human development and experience.

13  Embodiment of American liberal educational tradition  Emphasises education as a form of democracy  Includes a reconceptualisation of vocational learning  He has been seen to provide “the most mature consideration of the many roles of education in America’s progressive society” (Martin 2002: 255)

14  Draws on broad understanding of psychology and philosphy  Explores how:  thinking affects learning  Education can escape and transcend the traditional academic / vocational educational divide  Treads a ‘middle path’; avoids the individualism of Rousseau; and excessive reliance of the state.  Influenced by William James and Pragmatism (importance of experience; integration of theory and practice)

15  “Whereas Dewey defined educational purpose in terms of the individual’s integration into a modern society, the Europeans laid greater stress on ‘self- realisation’ and the inner growth of the individual”(Jones 1983:28)  Was equipping young people for an increasingly industrialised society  Education became important in promoting pragmatism, and creating a synergy between theory and practice.

16  For Dewey, it became essential that both society and democratic communities were continually evolving, both intellectually and morally.  Dewey’s thinking is a rejection of meta- narrative approaches (such as Marxist ideology), and represents change in a more gradual and evolutionary sense through the dissemination of progress and social justice.  Dewey initial supported kindergartens; but then partially rejected them, because of the emphasis on pupils pursuing their own ends.

17 In keeping with his understanding that humans develop innately, Dewey contended that “the moral is not to leave them (the children) alone to follow their own ‘spontaneous development’, but to provide an environment which shall organise them’ (1916: 134)

18  Notion of praxis – reconciliation of theory and practice.  Set up the University Elementary School (know as the Laboratory School) in Chicago in  Created this in order to demonstrate, observe and experiment.  “Only the scientific aim, the conduct of a laboratory, comparable to other scientific laboratories, can furnish the reason for the maintenance by a university of an elementary school (1989:88)

19  Dewey’s Laboratory School provided a relatively traditional curriculum (maths, history, etc), but use innovative ways of communicating the knowledge.  Pupils learned by experiment, enquiry and investigation.  Teachers thought about how they could carry these out.  Provided pupils with a broad curriculum.  R.S. Peters and Paul Hirst – debate what kind o subjects a student should study as part of a broad curriculum.

20  Dewey believed that learning was a lifelong process; he saw learning taking place within the processes of constant evolution, both within and individual and their society, which originated from the practical social questions which arose out of everyday life.  To do this, each person had to be equipped with a scientific, critically aware habit of mind: “It is a sound educational principle that students should be introduced to scientific subject matter and be initiated into its facts and laws through acquaintance with everyday social applications (1938: 98)

21  William Bagley – an ‘essentialist’, who challenged Dewey’s ideas. His belief was that there was core ‘essential’ knowledge which school has a duty to transmit.  Social reconstructionists see Dewey’s ideas as not sufficiently radical. The question was raised: How can inequalities beyond the classroom be addressed?  Boyd Bode: “Progressive education must either become a challenge to all the basic beleifs and attitudes which have been dominant for so long in every important domain of human interest, or else retreat to the nursery (1938: 5)

22  George Counts ( )- had a vision of teaching in and for a democracy which epitomises the challenges that continue to face educators struggling to reconcile the demands of social justice and individual freedom.  Counts wrote: “Dare the School Build New Social Order?”  His concern was how to prepare students to live in a world transformed by industrialisation; and how to address concerns about the relationships between class, education and power.

23  What should the purpose of school education for children be?  What subjects should be taught as part of the school curriculum?  What methods should be used to teach children in schools?  If you were designing a ‘progressive school’, what would be included in your plan?


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