We people are unconsciously trained from birth. Our social consciousness, our cultural ways and what we value are a mock up of a collective social being, according to Dewey. We are all a product of our social surroundings from birth through adulthood and death. Eventually we "become an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. Dewey believes that "the educational process has two sides.
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School Journal vol. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it; or differentiate it in some particular direction.
Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs.
Through the responses which others make to his own activities he comes to know what these mean in social terms. The value which they have is reflected back into them. I believe that this educational process has two sides - one psychological and one sociological; and that neither can be subordinated to the other or neglected without evil results following.
Of these two sides, the psychological is the basis. Save as the efforts of the educator connect with some activity which the child is carrying on of his own initiative independent of the educator, education becomes reduced to a pressure from without. It may, indeed, give certain external results but cannot truly be called educative.
Without insight into the psychological structure and activities of the individual, the educative process will, therefore, be haphazard and arbitrary.
The child has his own instincts and tendencies, but we do not know what these mean until we can translate them into their social equivalents. We must be able to carry them back into a social past and see them as the inheritance of previous race activities.
We must also be able to project them into the future to see what their outcome and end will be. I believe that the psychological and social sides are organically related and that education cannot be regarded as a compromise between the two, or a superimposition of one upon the other. We are told that the psychological definition of education is barren and formal - that it gives us only the idea of a development of all the mental powers without giving us any idea of the use to which these powers are put.
On the other hand, it is urged that the social definition of education, as getting adjusted to civilization, makes of it a forced and external process, and results in subordinating the freedom of the individual to a preconceived social and political status. I believe each of these objections is true when urged against one side isolated from the other. In order to know what a power really is we must know what its end, use, or function is; and this we cannot know save as we conceive of the individual as active in social relationships.
But, on the other hand, the only possible adjustment which we can give to the child under existing conditions, is that which arises through putting him in complete possession of all his powers. With the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now. Hence it is impossible to prepare the child for any precise set of conditions. To prepare him for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities; that his eye and ear and hand may be tools ready to command, that his judgment may be capable of grasping the conditions under which it has to work, and the executive forces be trained to act economically and efficiently.
In sum, I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that society is an organic union of individuals. If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction; if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert and lifeless mass.
It must be controlled at every point by reference to these same considerations. These powers, interests, and habits must be continually interpreted - we must know what they mean.
They must be translated into terms of their social equivalents - into terms of what they are capable of in the way of social service. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.
I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. I believe that the school must represent present life - life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground. I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, forms that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden.
I believe that the school, as an institution, should simplify existing social life; should reduce it, as it were, to an embryonic form. Existing life is so complex that the child cannot be brought into contact with it without either confusion or distraction; he is either overwhelmed by multiplicity of activities which are going on, so that he loses his own power of orderly reaction, or he is so stimulated by these various activities that his powers are prematurely called into play and he becomes either unduly specialized or else disintegrated.
I believe that, as such simplified social life, the school life should grow gradually out of the home life; that it should take up and continue the activities with which the child is already familiar in the home.
I believe that it should exhibit these activities to the child, and reproduce them in such ways that the child will gradually learn the meaning of them, and be capable of playing his own part in relation to them. I believe it is also a social necessity because the home is the form of social life in which the child has been nurtured and in connection with which he has had his moral training.
It is the business of the school to deepen and extend his sense of the values bound up in his home life. I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life.
It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation.
As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative. I believe that moral education centres about this conception of the school as a mode of social life, that the best and deepest moral training is precisely that which one gets through having to enter into proper relations with others in a unity of work and thought.
The present educational systems, so far as they destroy or neglect this unity, render it difficult or impossible to get any genuine, regular moral training. I believe that the child should be stimulated and controlled in his work through the life of the community. I believe that under existing conditions far too much of the stimulus and control proceeds from the teacher, because of neglect of the idea of the school as a form of social life. The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influences.
I believe that the discipline of the school should proceed from the life of the school as a whole and not directly from the teacher. I believe that all questions of the grading of the child and his promotion should be determined by reference to the same standard. The social life gives the unconscious unity and the background of all his efforts and of all his attainments. I believe that the subject-matter of the school curriculum should mark a gradual differentiation out of the primitive unconscious unity of social life.
I believe that education cannot be unified in the study of science, or so-called nature study, because apart from human activity, nature itself is not a unity; nature in itself is a number of diverse objects in space and time, and to attempt to make it the centre of work by itself, is to introduce a principle of radiation rather than one of concentration. I believe that literature is the reflex expression and interpretation of social experience; that hence it must follow upon and not precede such experience.
It, therefore, cannot be made the basis, although it may be made the summary of unification. I believe once more that history is of educative value in so far as it presents phases of social life and growth. It must be controlled by reference to social life. When taken simply as history it is thrown into the distant past and becomes dead and inert.
I believe, however, that it cannot be so taken excepting as the child is also introduced directly into social life. I believe that the only way to make the child conscious of his social heritage is to enable him to perform those fundamental types of activity which makes civilization what it is.
I believe, therefore, in the so-called expressive or constructive activities as the centre of correlation. I believe that this gives the standard for the place of cooking, sewing, manual training, etc.
I believe that they are not special studies which are to be introduced over and above a lot of others in the way of relaxation or relief, or as additional accomplishments. I believe that the study of science is educational in so far as it brings out the materials and processes which make social life what it is.
I believe that one of the greatest difficulties in the present teaching of science is that the material is presented in purely objective form, or is treated as a new peculiar kind of experience which the child can add to that which he has already had. In reality, science is of value because it gives the ability to interpret and control the experience already had. It should be introduced, not as so much new subject- matter, but as showing the factors already involved in previous experience and as furnishing tools by which that experience can be more easily and effectively regulated.
I believe that at present we lose much of the value of literature and language studies because of our elimination of the social element. Language is almost always treated in the books of pedagogy simply as the expression of thought. It is true that language is a logical instrument, but it is fundamentally and primarily a social instrument. Language is the device for communication; it is the tool through which one individual comes to share the ideas and feelings of others.
When treated simply as a way of getting individual information, or as a means of showing off what one has learned, it loses its social motive and end. I believe that there is, therefore, no succession of studies in the ideal school curriculum. If education is life, all life has, from the outset, a scientific aspect; an aspect of art and culture and an aspect of communication. It cannot, therefore, be true that the proper studies for one grade are mere reading and writing, and that at a later grade, reading, or literature, or science, may be introduced.
The progress is not in the succession of studies but in the development of new attitudes towards, and new interests in, experience. I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing. I believe that to set up any end outside of education, as furnishing its goal and standard, is to deprive the educational process of much of its meaning and tends to make us rely upon false and external stimuli in dealing with the child.
Because this is so I believe the following statements are of supreme importance as determining the spirit in which education is carried on: 1. I believe that the active side precedes the passive in the development of the child nature; that expression comes before conscious impression; that the muscular development precedes the sensory; that movements come before conscious sensations; I believe that consciousness is essentially motor or impulsive; that conscious states tend to project themselves in action.
I believe that the neglect of this principle is the cause of a large part of the waste of time and strength in school work. The child is thrown into a passive, receptive or absorbing attitude. The conditions are such that he is not permitted to follow the law of his nature; the result is friction and waste. I believe that ideas intellectual and rational processes also result from action and devolve for the sake of the better control of action. What we term reason is primarily the law of orderly or effective action.
To attempt to develop the reasoning powers, the powers of judgment, without reference to the selection and arrangement of means in action, is the fundamental fallacy in our present methods of dealing with this matter.
As a result we present the child with arbitrary symbols. Symbols are a necessity in mental development, but they have their place as tools for economizing effort; presented by themselves they are a mass of meaningless and arbitrary ideas imposed from without. I believe that the image is the great instrument of instruction. What a child gets out of any subject presented to him is simply the images which he himself forms with regard to it.
I believe that if nine-tenths of the energy at present directed towards making the child learn certain things, were spent in seeing to it that the child was forming proper images, the work of instruction would be indefinitely facilitated. I believe that interests are the signs and symptoms of growing power. I believe that they represent dawning capacities.
Accordingly the constant and careful observation of interests is of the utmost importance for the educator. I believe that these interests are to be observed as showing the state of development which the child has reached. I believe that the prophesy the stage upon which he is about to enter. I believe that these interests are neither to be humored nor repressed. To repress interest is to substitute the adult for the child, and so to weaken intellectual curiosity and alertness, to suppress initiative, and to deaden interest.
My Pedagogic Creed
Connect with me! A photo of me reading to some of my peers in a mini-lesson. Before beginning the assignment I was unsure about what I was going to write. Therefore, it came as a huge surprise and relief to me when I began and the ideas flowed out! I realized that I have very strong beliefs about education and what it should mean. I am curious to see how my pedagogic creed will change as I learn and grow as a teacher. I believe that education is the foundation of a society of independent, introspective, and innovative learners.