July 23, 2010
-- John Dewey was one of the first 20th century philosophers to challenge the traditional education model. During his time, the traditional form of education was seen as teacher-centered, an environment where students are passive recipients of the teachers’ knowledge. Additionally, the traditional educational models did not allow students the freedom to learn by experience due to its unbending, structured delivery style.
Dewey believed that the traditional model of education was restrictive and thus not efficient and meaningful to the learner. His progressive approach to learning focuses on positioning the learner as a direct participant in the learning process. In order to explain his philosophical position, Dewey wrote the book Experience and Education to bring some understanding to the growing conflict between “traditional”
education and his “progressive”
approach (Kolb, 1983, p. 5). The relevant connection of education to meaningful experiences outlined in the book created a vast contrast from the traditional model of education and was suggestive of sweeping change.
s leaning model suggests a pivotal change in placing the learner at the center of the process. Dewey (1938) goes on to explain the organic connection between education and personal experience. He wrote of the need to articulate a theory of experience that could guide educators. It was Dewey’s contention that all education and learning comes from experience, which then builds its relevance to students.
The relevance of information has a social purpose within Dewey’s learning model. Its application is geared towards making individuals become productive members of society. Basically, he believed that experiential learning could be used as a bridge between education and the real world. He further explained that “an ounce of experience is better than a ton of theory simply because it is only in experience that any theory has vital and verifiable significance”
(p. 144). This is not to say that experience is more important than theory and classroom learning, but that it should be a balance of both types of learning.