John Dewey is well-known to students of history; we find him time and again making his mark in the first half of the twentieth century in American social history. Dewey was a champion of Progressivism during his lifetime, and his views and efforts regarding child education fit well with his well-lived life.
I enjoyed the reading we had, chapter two of School and Society, and especially Dewey’s dry wit. More importantly, though, are his ideas about education and how best, and in what environments, to teach children. Classrooms, teachers, and presumably administrators of Dewey’s era treated the school setting as an “aggregate of units”, and by “units” Dewey means children. He describes schoolroom settings and activities which refused to recognize the individuality of the pupils in their instruction, or that children are actors in their own education. I like his description of the division of all teaching material into 16 portions, each of which is to be administered over the course of one year for a total of 16 years. Ingenious, isn’t it? :( How many children, one wonders, suffered through those 16 years? Millions.
Dewey’s likening of an enlightened schoolroom as the reflection of an enlightened home is wonderful…and true. In fact, he says, it is even better, for while a home will include the input of children, typically it is for the purpose of furthering the welfare of the household at large. The schoolroom, on the other hand, is dedicated to the welfare and education of the students, where they are indeed the center of gravity around whom activities and priorities revolve.