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Dewey

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Essay title: Dewey

One of the greatest minds in history. A philosopher, his concern was democracy and its ideals. A thinker about the problems in education. A prominent voice in America, commanding the admiration of those who agreed with his views, and respect for his mind even from those who did not. The man: John Dewey, an American philosopher.

Dewey's pedagogy was one with three distinctive traits: it was democratic in that it called for pluralism. It was a follower of the scientific method in that it was a systemic approach at solving problems and forming judgments, both practical and moral. It prized directed experience as an ongoing process of means as ends and ends as means. These three traits of Dewey's philosophy are tied to all that he wrote and thought.

Dewey felt that democracy was the ideal social structure, the one best suited to the needs and aims of all people; under no other political scheme was it possible for general citizens to have allowance and responsibility to grow individually and culturally. All other systems hindered personal and social growth in Dewey's scheme. Any form of despotic state used fear to such an extent that it became one of the only factors that kept the state in union, and the other factors that would naturally cause people to work together in their social environments were perverted and wasted. "Instead of operating on their own account they are reduced to mere servants of attaining pleasure and avoiding pain" (DE, 84).

The cultural paralysis was seen in the fact that "there is no free play back and forth among the members of the social group. Stimulation and response are exceedingly one-sided." Both the rich and poor suffer: the poor in that they have little involvement in the courses taken in their lives; the rich in that their "culture becomes sterile" (DE, 84).

Dewey asserted that "democracy has always been allied with humanism, with faith in the potentials of human nature" and that "democracy means the belief that humanistic culture should prevail." He advised that democracy is not something that will necessarily happen if "human nature is left to itself, when freed from external arbitrary restriction" (FC, 97). Democracy, for Dewey, was a moral issue that required efforts born in democratic vision. Democracy was Dewey's tool of progress. But Dewey also saw that democracy did not guarantee progress.

The imperative of democracy in education was obvious from Dewey's point of view: if a democratic society wants to train its children in the ways of democracy, schools would need to incorporate democratic methods into their systems. For Dewey, schools were responsible for developing democratic dispositions and tools: acute social awareness; critical assessments of existing social institutions; skepticism; voluntary cooperation. In the end, the best tool for democracy, which was highly democratic in Dewey's view, was the scientific method. Dewey saw in democracy, aided with these tools of enlightenment, the social structure most capable of growing, progressing, in an ethical and humane way. He wrote, "As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to transmit and conserve the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as make for a better future society. The school is the chief agency for

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