When talking about Philosophy of Education we have to keep in mind these three main questions : What is Philosophy? What is Education? And What does philosophy have to do with education?Philosophy from Greek ‘Philosophia’ literally means the ‘ love of wisdom. It is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matter such as existence , knowledge ,values reason, mind and language. The branch of philosophy that studies knowledge is known to be called Epistemology. Value theory is another branch of philosophy that tackles the understanding of how , why and to what degree people value things.
Philosophy of education is in fact an expression of value theory which questions how one learns? and why one learns?On the other hand, education is known to be the process of learning and teaching the young the knowledge and skills necessary for adult life. The young human beings are perceived as an input for education , while education is perceived as a production for the output to take place. The output is generally an adult who is now capable of functioning in the real world through the education he perceived and learned. However John Dewey would be very against this statement as he declares that : “Education is not preparation for life, but life itself”.Regarding philosophy of education one must keep in mind that this type of philosophy helps define views about learners, teachers and schools. It is a philosophy that studies the problems of education, it’s central subject matter is education and its methods are those of philosophy.
Many famous philosophers and thinkers have made their contributions in philosophy of education towards a better education also known as educational progressivism.The progressive education philosophy was established in America from the mid 1920s through the mid 1950s. John Dewey was its foremost proponent. Progressive education is essentially a view of education that emphasizes the need to learn by doing . Dewey believed that human being learn through a ‘hand on’ approach. His philosophical beliefs were that the school should improve the way of life of our citizens through experiencing freedom and democracy in schools . This included : shared decision making , planning of teachers with students and student-selected topics. For Dewey books are tools, rather than authority.
As he states : “education is the social continuity of life.” and many other thinkers also viewed education in the same way. (n.
d.). Retrieved December 19, 2017, from https://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP3.html )John Dewey childhood & early years :John Dewey was born on October 20, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont. John was born third of his parents four sons. Like his brothers, John had his early education at the Burlington public school, where children from all kinds of families , rich and poor, came to study. This enabled him to have a wide exposure from an early age.
Although his father did not nurture any ambition for his sons, he shared his passion for English and Scottish literature with them, encouraging them to read.Spending the summer holidays on his grandfather’s farm was another influencing factor in John’s formative years. Thus, a large part of his early education was derived not from school books, but from outside experience. John found the school curriculum a little boring. Nonetheless, he did exceedingly well in school and graduated from there.
Thereafter, he entered University of Vermont at just the age of fifteen. At the university, he studied philosophy with Henry Augustus Pearson Torrey and was considerably influenced by him. In 1879, Dewey graduated with philosophy from University of Vermont. Thereafter, for two years he served at a high-school in Oil City, Pennsylvania teaching Latin, algebra and science.
In the third year, he returned to Vermont to teach at an elementary school in Charlotte. Back in Vermont, he spent his leisure time studying philosophy. Very soon, he realized that he was not cut out for the job of a school master. He decided to do his doctorate in philosophy, studying the subject privately with Torrey.
Dewey received his PhD in philosophy in 1884 and his dissertation was entitled ‘The Psychology of Kant’.In 1884, John Dewey began his career as an assistant professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1894, Dewey left University of Michigan to take up position at the newly founded University of Chicago.
Also, in 1894, Dewey established University Elementary School, an experimental primary school at the University of Chicago, with his wife, Harriet, as its principal. His main intention was to test his educational theories, which he had formed after extensive study of child psychology.In 1904, John Dewey resigned from the University of Chicago after a disagreement with the authority. He then moved to East Coast, joining Columbia University as a professor of physiology. Since the salary was too low for his growing family, he also started teaching at the Teacher’s College under Columbia University. He remained at the Columbia University until his retirement in 1930. All along he continued to produce number of important works, ‘Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education’, being one of them.
Among the forty books written by John Dewey, ‘Democracy and Education’ is his first major work. Published in 1916, it tries to synthesize and expand the educational philosophies of two major philosophers , Plato and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. However it’s important to state that opposite of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dewey believed that society and education walk hand in hand. While Rousseau states that society is corrupt , Dewey believe that through society we learn what is called formal education, education which is incidental. John Dewey work on education :Even before the constructivist theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were widely known, Dewey was talking about how children learn best when they interacted with their environments and were actively involved with the school curriculum.His most famous book regarding education is “Democracy and Education”.
Dewey was very much obsessed with democracy as he believed that democracy can be found everywhere . He always questioned what is democracy? and what do we understand with the term democracy? For Dewey democracy is a way of life. For Dewey every citizen is a politician. Democracy is a way how people interact with each other. Another famous declaration by Dewey concerning education is ” My Pedagogical Creed”.
In the short essay, “My Pedagogic Creed,” Dewey gives his readers ideas regarding what education is, how it should be done, and why it’s important. Today, he is considered a “father of education” and his views are being adapted in all sorts of ways in classrooms around the world. Dewey first stood out by rejecting the traditional ideal of American education which was built around teachers standing up in the front of the classroom and pouring information into the minds of their students. Instead, Dewey suggested a new form of education that utilized applicable experience as the key element of learning.