How have John Dewey's theories about thinking and learning held up over time?
March 20, 2012 6:37 AM   Subscribe

How have John Dewey's theories about thinking and learning held up over time?

I got really excited when I learned that Chomsky went to a progressive Dewey-ite school, so I decided to learn more about what that meant. I've been reading Democracy and Education off and on over the past year, and it has really helped me see the world differently. But I have to wonder, in what ways would modern science confirm or undermine Dewey's ideas about social, holistic learning techniques.

Also, to what extent have Dewey's ideas been revised over time? In what ways have they been incorporated into curricula? And has the willingness of school districts to incorporate Dewey-ite ideas broken down along socio-economic lines?
posted by jwhite1979 to Education (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: From a brief mention in this NYRB article, it seems Dewey's ideas are practiced in Finland with good results.

"...Finland borrowed many of its most valued ideas from the United States, such as equality of educational opportunity, individualized instruction, portfolio assessment, and cooperative learning. Most of its borrowing derives from the work of the philosopher John Dewey."
posted by bdc34 at 7:49 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sort of depends on your point of view. The extreme right wing in the US would probably say that Dewey was fantastically successful, as evidenced by the drones of socialized secular humanists coming out of the school system. The left wing would look at all the kids coming out not educated and say Dewey's philosophies have not worked at all.

A lot of what Dewey wrote is sort of vague. The US public school system certainly jumped on board with the idea of centralized education and using the school system to promote societal change. Whether or not we really implemented "Dewey" in a way that was in the best interest of the kids is debatable. Whether or not it is possible to implement 'Dewey" is probably debatable. When I think of US schools, social, holistic learning techniques is not what immediately comes to mind. I think we gave a lot of lip service to progressive education in the US , without really following through and implementing it.
posted by COD at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

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