John Dewey, a famous American philosopher, is one of the leading proponents of the school of pragmatism. A strong thinker and social reformer, he has developed an educational theory rooted in progressivism and an understanding of the relationships between the pupils and their environments. James Johnston’s paper “John Dewey and Educational Pragmatism” provides a summary of both Dewey’s biography and his philosophical ideas. This reflection aims to comment on the context in which Dewey has developed these ideas and articulated the relevancy of his philosophy holds in modern times.
Dewey’s political affiliation with socialism is crucial to the analysis of his educational philosophy. While studying at the University of Chicago, Dewey witnessed the negative impacts of the city’s industrialization on its marginalized immigrant workers (Johnston, 2010). This experience of witnessing low-skilled workers throughout Chicago being paid miserable wages contextualizes Dewey’s dedication to the idea of nurturing and transformative community in educational institutions. Dewey believed that a child should exist in a dynamic relationship with their curriculum (Johnston, 2010) and should engage in practical education through shared activities. His approach largely contradicted the educational doctrine of the time that prioritized the direct introduction of abstract concepts. Additionally, it emphasized the ability of education to improve one’s conditions and perspectives in life.
Despite initially being faced with scrutiny, Dewey’s ideas found a wide implementation in modern educational practice. His philosophy laid the groundwork for the ideas of interactive learning that are currently practiced worldwide (Holt, 2020). Understanding a child as a part of an environment is instrumental for the analysis of their academic strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Therefore, Dewey’s ideas remain not only relevant but widely usable in modern education.
Holt, L. (2020). John Dewey: A Look at His Contributions to Curriculum. Academicus International Scientific Journal, 21, 142-150. Web.
Johnston, J. (2010). John Dewey and Educational Pragmatism. In R. Bailey, R. Barrow, D. Carr & C. McCarthy (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education. SAGE. Web.