Childhood has ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling, peculiar to itself, nothing can be more foolish than to substitute our ways for them. The other involved efforts to reshape the obsolete system of schooling to make it fit the revolutionary changes in social life.
These two problems were closely connected. The play school, for example, was devised not only to care for the specific needs of very young children but also to meet new needs which had grown out of the transformations in the family affected by industrial and urban conditions; it was no longer a unit of production as in feudal and colonial times but became more and more simply a center of consumption.
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The educational system had to be thoroughly overhauled, he said, because of the deep-going changes in American civilization. Under colonial, agrarian, small-town life, the child took part in household, community and productive activities which spontaneously fostered capacities for self-direction, discipline, leadership and independent judgment.
Such worthwhile qualities were discouraged and stunted by the new industrialized, urbanized, atomized conditions which had disintegrated the family and weakened the influence of religion. In the city the training of children became one-sided and distorted because intellectual activities were dissociated from practical everyday occupations. Dewey wrote:. Life was in the main rural. The child came into contact with the scenes of nature, and was familiarized with the care of domestic animals, the cultivation of the soil, and the raising of crops.
The factory system being undeveloped, the house was the center of industry. Spinning, weaving, the making of clothes, etc. Only those who have passed through such training, [as Dewey himself did in Vermont], and, later on, have seen children raised in city environments, can adequately realize the amount of training, mental and moral, involved in this extra-school life It was not only an adequate substitute for what we now term manual training, in the development of hand and eye, in the acquisition of skill and deftness; but it was initiation into self-reliance, independence of judgment and action, and was the best stimulus to habits of regular and continuous work.
The crowding into cities and the increase of servants [! Just at the time when a child is subjected to a great increase in stimulus and pressure from his environment, he loses the practical and motor training necessary to balance his intellectual development. Facility in acquiring information is gained; the power of using it is lost. While need of the more formal intellectual training in school has decreased, there arises an urgent demand for the introduction of methods of manual and industrial discipline which shall give the child what he formerly obtained in his home and social life.
The old schooling had to be renovated for still another reason. The curriculum and mode of colonial education had been largely shaped by medieval concepts and aims. The schools were controlled by the clergy and access to them was restricted to the favored few, the wealthy and well born. The teacher tyrannized over the classroom, imposing a schematic routine upon a passive, obedient, well-drilled student body.
In The School and Society Dewey pointed out how haphazardly the existing school organization had grown up. It was composed of oddly assorted and poorly fitting parts, fashioned in different centuries and designed to serve different needs and even conflicting social interests. The crown of the system, the university, had come down from medieval times and was originally intended to cater to the aristocracy and train an elite for such professions as law, theology and medicine. The high school dated from the nineteenth century when it was instituted to care for the demands from commerce and industry for better-trained personnel.
The grammar school was inherited from the eighteenth century when it was felt that boys ought to have the minimum ability to read, write and calculate before being turned out to shift for themselves. The kindergarten was a later addition arising from the breakup of the family and the home by the industrial revolution. A variety of specialized institutions had sprung up alongside this official hierarchy of education.
The trade and technical school turned out skilled craftsmen needed for industry and construction. Thus the various parts of our educational system ranged from institutions of feudal formation like the university to such offshoots of industrial capitalism as the trade school. But no single consistent principle or purpose of organization unified the whole.
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Dewey sought to supply that unifying pattern by applying the principles and practices of democracy, as he interpreted them, consistently throughout the educational system. First, the schools would be freely available to all from kindergarten to college. Second, the children would themselves carry on the educational process, aided and guided by the teacher. Third, they would be trained to behave cooperatively, sharing with and caring for one another. Then these creative, well-adjusted equalitarians would make over American society in their own image.
In this way the opposition between the old education and the new conditions of life would be overcome. The progressive influences radiating from the schools would stimulate and fortify the building of a democratic order of free and equal citizens. The new school system envisaged by Dewey was to take over the functions and compensate for the losses sustained by the crumbling of the old institutions clustered around the farm economy, the family, the church and the small town.
The question of how soon vocational training should begin had been under debate in educational circles since the days of Benjamin Franklin. The immigrants, working and middle classes regarded education, not as an adornment or a passport to aristocratic culture, but as indispensable equipment to earn a better living and rise in the social scale.
They especially valued those subjects which were conducive to success in business. During the nineteenth century private business colleges were set up in the cities to teach the mathematics, bookkeeping, stenography and knowledge of English required for business offices. Mechanics institutes were established to provide skilled manpower for industry. These demands of capitalist enterprise invaded the school system and posed the question of how soon children were to be segregated to become suitable recruits for the merchant princes and captains of industry.
One of the early nineteenth century promoters of free public education, Horace Mann, appealed both to the self-interest of the people and to the cupidity of the industrialists for support of his cause on the ground that elementary education alone could properly prepare the youth for work in the field, shop or office and would increase the value of labor. Your gift by my leave is but some seeds yet to grow, Whose value was found in times of need long ago; Sow all of these seeds in our vast garden with care, Protect and defend the greater harvest to share.
To view such swift change, see truths melt under new suns, To watch how scared souls kept on refining their guns; My nation was home despite such strife with no cease, My freedom was here while humbly searching for peace. Recent editions of Dewey's writings. The Collected Works of John Dewey, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, The Early Works, The Middle Works, The Later Works, The Correspondence of John Dewey. Volume 1: ; Volume 2: ; Volume 3: The Essential Dewey.
- ISBN 13: 9781612291345!
- Foundations for a Feminist Restructuring of the Academic Disciplines (Haworth Womens Studies);
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Bloomington: Indiana University Press, The Moral Writings of John Dewey , rev. Edited by James Gouinlock. Amherst, N. The Political Writings of John Dewey. Edited by Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro. Indianapolis: Hackett, The Philosophy of John Dewey. Two volumes in one. Edited by John J.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Ethics, by Dewey and James H. Art and Education, by Dewey, Albert C. Barnes, Laurence Buermeyer, and others Merion, Pa. Theory of Valuation, volume 2, no. Morris Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Enlistment for the Farm, Columbia War Papers, series 1 no. Dutton, ; London: Dent, China, Japan, and the U.
What Mr. Are Sanctions Necessary to International Organizations? Kilpatrick, George H. Hartmann, Ernest O.
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Melby, and others New York: Appleton-Century, What Is Democracy? Bode, and T. Smith Norman, Okla. Findlay London: Blackie, Educational Essays, edited by J. Johnson Boston: Beacon, Dewey on Education, selected, with an introduction and notes, by Martin S. Dictionary of Education, edited by Ralph B. Winn with a foreword by John Herman Randall Jr.
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New York: Philosophical Library, Bernstein, Library of Liberal Arts, no. Selected Educational Writings, edited, with an introduction and commentary, by F. Garforth London: Heinemann, Lectures in the Philosophy of Education, , edited, with an introduction, by Reginald D. Archambault New York: Random House, Lectures in China, , translated and edited by Robert W.
John Dewey on Education. Edited by Reginald D. Jackson Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Edited by Warren J.