R.M.Alger

John Dewey

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I recently became interested in education; on a theoretical level (would I call this the philosophy of education?) I know many on this forum support the Montessori educational system, but I personally do not know enough about it to come to a firm conclusion about anything; though I have read the press releases of the VanDamme academy, and initially it sounds good.

So I have been reading up on some of the major sources for educational theory; and one of my first stops on my way out of ignorance is: John Dewey.

I have to say, much of what he says about children and education is completely disgusting. Reading his pedagogic creed, is like reading the declarations of one of Ayn Rand’s villains brought to life.

My initial impression is that he is a behaviorist, in the same tread as Skinner. He thought education was a “social process,” whose main purpose was to promote “social change” for the creation of a “good society.” Not once does he mention the importance of an individual child's ability to think.

But I don’t want to stop at the theoretical level; I want to know how well these theories have done in the laboratory of reality. How well have students done in these schools; what is the ultimate affect; statistically speaking, how does the progressive, Dewey inspired educational systems compare to others?

I am posting this because I want to start a discussion on these issues (I’m sorry if John Dewey has been covered before.) I want to know about the long-term psychological repercussions of these various systems, there success, or lack thereof, in the real world; and even get into how the human brain learns and grows, and how to best nurture our natural abilities.

I can argue against John Dewey all I want, but eventually I need objective evidence and logic to support my claims. My main question is this; what are these arguments, and where can I find them?

- Ryan Alger

P.S. – I was also reading about Albert Cullum; I actually don’t know much about his educational philosophy, its rather vague(he seems progressive in some areas and classical in others), does anybody else have any impressions of him?

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But I don’t want to stop at the theoretical level; I want to know how well these theories have done in the laboratory of reality. How well have students done in these schools; what is the ultimate affect; statistically speaking, how does the progressive, Dewey inspired educational systems compare to others?

John Dewey has been the major influence on American education, public and private, on all levels, in the past 100 years. For a comparison, see the differences between American education and that of Canada -- or of any other country -- where Dewey has not been so influential

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John Dewey has been the major influence on American education, public and private, on all levels, in the past 100 years. For a comparison, see the differences between American education and that of Canada -- or of any other country -- where Dewey has not been so influential

I also recommend Leonard Peikoff's Ford Hall Forum lecture, "The American School: Why Johnny Can't Think," available in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought.

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See VanDamme Academy, but only if you think that 8th Graders tackling pre-Calc -- just one example -- is a good thing...lol

The school's founder, Lisa VanDamme, isn't big on Montessori for students past a rather early age. She also has several lectures on education at ARB, and you can SEARCH this site for more on her wonderful school.

+++

Dewey quotes I found while looking for the one I listed last:

When knowledge is regarded as originating and developing within an individual, the ties which bind the mental life of one to that of his fellows are ignored and denied.
The tragic weakness of the present school is that it endeavors to prepare future members of the social order in a medium in which the conditions of the social spirit are eminently wanting ...
When the social quaility of individualized mental operations is denied, it becomes a problem to find connections which will unite an individual with his fellows. Moral individualism is set up by the conscious separation of different centers of life. It has its roots in the notion that the consciousness of each person is wholly private, a self-inclosed continent. intrinsically independent of the ideas, wishes, purposes of everybody else.
Very many men have lived and died and been great, even the leaders of their age, without any acquaintance with letters [...] Illiterates escape certain temptations, such as vacuous and vicious reading. Perhaps we are prone to put too high a value both upon the ability required to attain this art and the discipline involved in doing so, as well as the cultutre value that comes to the citizen with his average of only six grades of schooling by the acquisition of this art.

And the one i was looking for:

The mere absorbing of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of merely learning, there is no clear social gain in success threat.

It's a miracle we're still standing!

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Dewey quotes I found while looking for the one I listed last:
When knowledge is regarded as originating and developing within an individual, the ties which bind the mental life of one to that of his fellows are ignored and denied.
The tragic weakness of the present school is that it endeavors to prepare future members of the social order in a medium in which the conditions of the social spirit are eminently wanting ...
When the social quaility of individualized mental operations is denied, it becomes a problem to find connections which will unite an individual with his fellows. Moral individualism is set up by the conscious separation of different centers of life. It has its roots in the notion that the consciousness of each person is wholly private, a self-inclosed continent. intrinsically independent of the ideas, wishes, purposes of everybody else.
Very many men have lived and died and been great, even the leaders of their age, without any acquaintance with letters [...] Illiterates escape certain temptations, such as vacuous and vicious reading. Perhaps we are prone to put too high a value both upon the ability required to attain this art and the discipline involved in doing so, as well as the cultutre value that comes to the citizen with his average of only six grades of schooling by the acquisition of this art.

And the one i was looking for:

The mere absorbing of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of merely learning, there is no clear social gain in success threat.

It's a miracle we're still standing!

If I may be so bold . . . Good "God"! How utterly disgusting. Every time I read those and other, similarly imbecile quotes from Dewey, my immediate (emotional) response is to reach for my imaginary (at this point) 30-06. It's rather hard to determine which is worse: Dewey's "intellectual" excreta, or the fact that so many have seen fit over the years to take it seriously.

There . . . now . . . I've gotten that off my chest. On with the discussion . . .

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If I may be so bold . . . Good "God"! How utterly disgusting. Every time I read those and other, similarly imbecile quotes from Dewey, my immediate (emotional) response is to reach for my imaginary (at this point) 30-06. It's rather hard to determine which is worse: Dewey's "intellectual" excreta, or the fact that so many have seen fit over the years to take it seriously.

What prompted this discussion for me was that my sister came home with one of John Dewey’s books, required reading in one of her classes in New York (to become a teacher in New York a person must have masters degree in a certain field and a teaching degree.)

She takes very little of what she learns in these classes seriously, in fact she confided in me that she doesn’t feel like she learning anything at all in much of her courses.

There are thousands of silly little things attached to these ideas. I remember one she told me about, it talks about the psychology of confidence, and how you are never supposed to reward a child for doing something right, only reward there effort; if I child does do something right, say “good effort” instead of “good work”, this has the bonus affect of not making other children feel bad (apparently, this was a thirty minute lecture.)

And I won’t even go in to the overseas programs that try to rehabilitate prisoners with educational theater (I swear this is real.)

- Ryan

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The reading in my Juvenile Delinquency class touches on Dewey, although not extensively.

The quotes in this thread are ironic because Dewey is known as a pioneer of making education more individualistic and helping students to be better critical thinkers.

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John Dewey has been the major influence on American education, public and private, on all levels, in the past 100 years. For a comparison, see the differences between American education and that of Canada -- or of any other country -- where Dewey has not been so influential

I also recommend Leonard Peikoff's Ford Hall Forum lecture, "The American School: Why Johnny Can't Think," available in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought.

Betsy,

Thanks for the suggestions, and the clues for further research. I managed to find a copy of The Voice of Reason on abebooks, it should be arriving soon.

I have read Ayn Rand’s work in Return to the Primitive, the Comprachicos; While it tends to keep on a more theoretical level, I find it very interesting.

I also found a possibly good source for information at the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics.)

The hardest apart in trying to gain meaning from some of these statistics will be separating all the variables; not just the obvious ones, but also things like ‘home life’ and ‘culture’ and even the politics of the region. Still, if the sample from two comparable things are large enough, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I have also been researching progressive schools of thought, going to some of their websites. I notice there is a good deal of rhetoric about the importance of creativity and confidence.

I am going to agree with progressive education here, in that I think that both creativity and confidence are good things. But I don’t think there way of achieving these things Is valid.

Is the best way to achieve confidence to not correct a child when they make an error, or to avoid error altogether? It seems like this would, for the price of a very temporary confidence high, detach a child from reality.

Also, is the best way to nurture creativity to detach a child from the superior knowledge of others? If this where true, then the children of Uganda, who receive next to no education, if any, should be some of the most creative children on the planet. I think knowledge fuels creativity; why must we force children to reinvent the wheel?

In any case, thank you for your replies.

- Ryan

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I have also been researching progressive schools of thought, going to some of their websites. I notice there is a good deal of rhetoric about the importance of creativity and confidence.

I am going to agree with progressive education here, in that I think that both creativity and confidence are good things. But I don't think there way of achieving these things Is valid.

The modern "self esteem" movement has sought the results without the cause, as if a feeling of self-confidence could be attained by making children "feel good" about themselves without their having to develop the ability to deal with reality that makes genuine self esteem possible. Creativity" has meant letting children do what they feel like without regard to objective standards of learning, as if such subjectivism could be meaningful creativity; there is plenty of room for genuine creativity and problem solving within a context of real learning, in which creativity actually means something.

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The reading in my Juvenile Delinquency class touches on Dewey, although not extensively.

The quotes in this thread are ironic because Dewey is known as a pioneer of making education more individualistic and helping students to be better critical thinkers.

Does anyone know if Dewey is seen this way for the same reasons so many think Kant was pro-reason?

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