The Philosophy of Education: Dewey Vs. Counts
Education is one of the world’s most affluent institutions. Every weekday, children go to school and are educated within the many subjects we study in our grades. Whether it’s math, english, science, history, geography, or any other subject, the process is the same. We are told to memorize information and we are tested and graded on our knowledge of the subjects. Only, why? Why are we assessed to measure our intellect? Why are children educated? Educational philosophers have pondered upon the purpose of education for quite a while now. In this comparative essay, I will be comparing and contrasting the philosophies of the reputed educational philosophers John Dewey, and George Counts. I will compare and contrast the polar opposite philosophies that both advocate their perspectives on the purpose of education.
The two philosophers have set traits that an ideal student should have. The only difference is that each has a different perspective of what the perfect student looks like. Dewey, believed that the ideal student is quiet, and not talkative. Dewey theorizes that students should always be quiet, with no talking or interaction whatsoever, between classmates. In contrast to Counts, Dewey also believes that one should be independent and should only work for oneself. He thinks that students should only work on their own, for their own values and benefit, and not for others. Unlike what Counts would advocate, another trait that an ideal student has in Dewey’s perspective is obedience. Dewey advocates that students must be obedient to their instructions. This means that they cannot question their instructions whatsoever, and must follow what they are told to do. Even though these characteristics are the qualities the ideal “Dewey Student” would have, Counts has some other ideas. Counts believes in the ideology that an ideal student should be curious. They should be critical thinkers. Counts wants students questioning in a purposeful manner. Counts wants his students to do things with a purpose or reason, like critical thinkers would. Counts also believes that students should be collaborative with others. He wants students to be cooperative when working with other people, when doing things such as group work.
The two philosophers share some commonalities, too. Dewey and Counts both believe students should have good qualities. They want students to be responsible, and respectful to others. They also want students to be prepared to learn. Just as they have many differences in their philosophies, they also have similarities, in what they think the qualities of the ideal student should be. Students learn in several different ways, or at least they are obliged to learn this way. Both philosophers have different ideas of how students should learn. Dewey for instance, believes that students should learn through tests and assignments. The purpose of these tests is to evaluate your overall academic excellence. Dewey advocates that students should memorize information, and should be tested of their knowledge. Assignments are also given to continue to exercise the memorization of the given facts and information. Dewey is individualistic, and as expected he would support independent work that is teacher-paced. The reason why is because it helps you exercise doing things independently, and being self-reliant at a certain pace.
Only that’s not all independent work does. It also creates competition between students, for the status of having the highest academic excellence merits in class. Basically, it means you are the person who is the “smartest” in the class, and someone who can keep up with what they are learning with their teachers, the fastest. Likewise, this occurs in society, too. People outcompete each other in many things such as the first to have the best car, or the largest home. They do this in order to gain a high status within the society, as someone who has wealth-based power and is authoritative. Dewey also believes in giving rewards to students who have educational merits. Usually the only students getting these awards are the ones whose overall assessments have reached or surpassed a certain point or mark. However, the students who don’t achieve this, are not awarded. On the other hand, Counts has philosophies some of which are vastly different from what Dewey believes. For one thing Counts, argues that students should engage in interactive, collaborative group work.
As we now know, Counts believed the ideal student is collaborative with others, obviously we then know he would want children to engage in group work. The purpose of this group work is so that children learn that they should view things as a group, and that they should see the bigger picture or the macro of things. It helps them seek different strategies to a problem as they are addressing all of the groups’ perspectives. Counts theorizes that learning should be student paced where they can take part in active self-learning. In contrast to Dewey, Counts wants students to learn through active self-learning which is basically student paced work. He believes students should learn at their own pace so they can understand it. Counts also believes in conceptual learning. Learning about things and their concepts. Counts wants students to be critical thinkers and find the purpose of why we do things.
On the contrary, Dewey would teach things in a procedural manner, always following preset instructions with no clear purpose. Reasonably, both philosophers believe that students should work hard to get good report card marks, as they both believe that these marks are what will motivate students to surpass the mark in the next term. Even though Dewey and Counts both have different ways of teaching, they both give importance to students’ learning. John Dewey and George Counts both have philosophized many thoughts on the purpose of education. Now the question is, what are the main goals of their educational philosophies? What do they want the outcome of their philosophies to be, when applied to society and the real world? First off, Dewey wants students to grow as an individual through assessments and tasks. The assessments that are handed to the students show them their overall mark. Dewey believed students should only worry about oneself. He believes students should improve themselves as they grow older based on their marks at school, as he believes this will be beneficial for a job in the future. Dewey also wants to enhance opportunities to those who have merits in education, and limit opportunities for those who do not have educational merits. Dewey understands that in society there needs to be people with jobs that earn high income, and those who have jobs that earn low income.
Usually, the people that earn a lot of income are the people who have merits in academic excellence. On the other hand, people that don’t have merits in education, are not awarded these opportunities, and are rather limited. This creates a hierarchy in society, where the people with academic merits and good jobs, are in. Another goal Dewey aims to reach is gradual change in society, but not fundamental. Dewey theorizes that we should preserve the past and not change our ways, but in order to live in an ever-changing society like ours, we’re going to need some kind of change. This is called social reform. Social reform is a type of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than transformative change. Counts theorizes the exact opposite. Counts believes his philosophies aim to create change in society that is transformative. Counts argues that we should continue to enhance, and improve society to make it better to live in. Counts wants his philosophies to result in equal opportunities for everyone. Unlike Dewey, he wants everyone to be granted equal opportunities, so that it is fair for everyone. If everyone had equal opportunities, then there will be equity in society, as everyone was awarded the same opportunities as everyone else.
Counts wants students to become critical thinkers and do things purposefully. Instead of being pragmatic, like Dewey, he believes students should be purposeful. In contrast to Dewey, Counts does not want a pragmatic approach to an education system. He wants students to think critically, as this will help for the betterment of society. Asking questions that provoke critical thought will promote taking action. Not only does it mean we are critical thinkers, but it means we can apply our knowledge to the real world. Dewey and Counts also have similar goals based on their philosophies. Both believe that education is here so that we can prepare to live in our society. We need to understand the the laws of our society and how to live as a citizen.
During that time we start to build social skills in a social environment. School is what develops us to live in a society like out, with laws and many people around us. The two philosophers also believe that school is for occupational preparation. In school is where we enhance skills we need for our prospective jobs. We learn how to do math, learn science, and study language in order to develop skills we need for our future jobs. Other than that, these are the goals Dewey and Counts aim to reach through their educational philosophies. In this essay we have been comparing and contrasting the philosophies of Dewey and Counts. We now understand that they are not completely opposite, but share a few commonalities, too.
After analyzing the educational philosophies of Dewey and Counts, I will suggest a new way educating students that brings the best of Dewey and the best of Counts. Students will have an equal amount of independent work and collaborative work so they can learn how to work on their own with others in real life situations. Students will learn at their own pace and will engage in active self-learning, so that they can understand what they are learning at their own pace. Teachers will teach in a conceptual manner and a procedural manner so that students will understand what they are learning and the concept of it. Students will learn from different perspectives so that the students can put the views together and compare them to see the bigger picture or macro of what they are learning. Students will develop the skills they need for future professions. Students will also focus on personal improvement, and maturing into an adult and making themselves a better person. My philosophies are what synthesize the ideas of Dewey and of Counts.
After reading this essay we should now understand the purpose of education and why we actually go to school. You probably also realized that Dewey’s ideas sound very familiar. In fact, today, our education system is influenced by the ideas of Dewey. If I was to take sides on which philosopher I would support, I wouldn’t choose either. I will choose Mortimer Adler. Adler is another philosopher that brought together the ideas of Dewey and Counts, adding some of his own, too. The proponents of education, Dewey and Counts both philosophized many ideas about the purpose of education that influences society today. As we continue going to school everyday, whether you’re a teacher, a student, or anybody else, we now see school in another light that brings out the real truth about our educational system.
The Biography of John Dewey: an Introduction
Nowhere can it be found of a philosopher whose intellect has made such an impact on the twentieth century as John Dewey. He has brought two kinds of education, traditional and progressive, and generalized them to their simplest form. What Dewey is explaining throughout Experiences and Education is that there is a gap between the child and subject due to failure to recognize interaction between child and teacher. The main idea that is clear to see is that students must experience in order to learn. In education his influence has been a leading factor in the loss of controlling methods and in the growing of learning through experimenting and practicing. Dewey is the father of Progressive Education.
Dewey considered education as a tool that would help a person to use the knowledge gained effectively and usefully. In Education and Experience, Dewey tries to display similarities of the principles of traditional education and the ideas of progressive. Dewey wrote, “Any theory and set of practices is dogmatic which is not based upon critical examination of its own underlying principles” , it explains how education is not even relevant to education anymore.
John Dewey’s significance for progressive educators lies in a number of areas. He criticized educational methods that simply amused and entertained students or were overly planned out. He than went on to agreed on education that would fulfill and enrich the current lives of students as well as prepare them for their future. Traditional education that was explained by Dewey is when the knowledge is directed from the book and given straight to the students in facts and numbers. This is the type of learning style that was taught in the earlier days and is now being modified by the new style, progressive education, which is a better form of interaction between the teacher and student.
Dewey didn t clearly state weather he was for or against any education style, he generally describe them both and had positives and negatives for each form of education. Because of his inability to choose, modern society is questioning which form of education is best to proceed with our children. John Dewey was onto something with his knowledge and gave the world something to look for in education and made the most significant contribution to the development of educational thinking. Some people agree with traditional education and some people don t. All types of education were good for the children in the past and any form of education will be good for the children of today. All that is needed is instructors to be as good as the can in getting the information to the students. By being successful in the classroom will in turn make society a better place for everyone. Dewey believes that by having a progressive style in learning will help the students gain knowledge more effectively.
Dewey s knowledge of education is best told when he said, Education is a discipline that is concerned, in this context, mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school like environments as opposed to various informal means of socialization . Growing up I have had many different learning approaches given to me. I found that the approach that works best for me is the style when the instructor educates us on the same level and interaction is established. Without an instructor that tries to reach the children than the knowledge is wasted. I believe that progressive education is the best idea that our society should follow going into the new millennium. Progressive education is good mainly for the fact that one of its main objectives was to educate the “whole child”–that is, to attend to physical and emotional, as well as intellectual, growth. In addition, this certain form of education is good simply because it needs to be changed and adjusted as society in general is changing. With the world growing more modern everyday, the children of today need to be educated modernly in order to be successful in the world tomorrow. Education is important no matter the form in which it is given to the children.
Many people don t understand the form of good education anymore. It is key that the people are glad that our children are being educated at all. Some other countries are not half as modern as ours and those children are not able to access the knowledge that the children of the United States are. Some people come to our country for a better life, meaning that our system is well organized and better than most. If the way we live and the way we educate are better than other countries than we all must be doing something right.
John Dewey’s Eclipse of the Public: the Public Decline in the Political Arena
The thesis from Dewey’s The Eclipse of the Public that will be analyzed here is that the public has been lost (eclipsed) because of economic change happening faster than political change. Dewey thinks the public has been lost because of the disconnect between public opinion and political outcomes, which explains the absence of the public in the political machine of the country.
There are three explanations for the eclipse of the public that sum up and explain why Dewey thinks that the public has been lost. The first reason is the decline of leisure. According to Dewey, leisure was the foundation for much of the political participation that happened in ancient republics. People with time to spare and without financial constraints could turn to politics because they had no other concerns. Today, however, people are far more predisposed to work. In fact, Dewey argues, the more people succeed at their work, the more they work. The increasing demands of business and work have taken away from the political sphere.
The second reason for the decline of the public from the political sphere is that politics has faced increased competition from a host of entertainments. Mass culture ends up consuming most of whatever amount of leisure time people have left. The third reason for the decline of the public from politics is that the very underpinnings of the economy erodes the emergence of an efficacious public. Dewey argues that evolution in production means an evolution in the way that society is organized. Dewey seems to attribute this constant shifting of the structure of society to migration from rural areas to urban areas, although today it is due to things like large companies undergoing structural changes and laying off employees, causing unemployment. New economic conditions constantly force people to move, which, according to Dewey, prevents the formation of an efficacious and engaged public.
An important part of Dewey’s thesis that needs explaining is the solution to the eclipse of the public. The solution, for Dewey, seems to be the building of a great community that will be in line with the great society. It turns out that this is mostly a problem of coming up with the right form of communication that would bring the public into this great community. In Dewey’s words, “We have physical tools of communication as never before. The thoughts and aspirations congruous with them are not communicated, and hence not common. Without such communication, the public will remain shadowy and formless, seeking spasmodically for itself…Communication alone can create a great community. Our Babel is not one of tongues, but of signs and symbols without which shared experience is impossible” (143). He also explains what would enliven this great community: “The clear consciousness of a communal life, in all its implications, constitutes the idea of democracy” (145). Communication, it seems, must be put into practice in order for this consciousness to come to light. Ultimately, then, Dewey’s solution for the eclipse of the public is a connection between democracy, community, and communication.