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Dewey in the Modern World


Soundtrack for this article: Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, The Nut Cracker by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Metamodernity by Vansire, Peer Gynt Suite No.1 by Edvard Greig






Get ready for a dive into the scholarly realm – or at least, my attempt to bring academia into focus. We embark on this intellectual journey with a sprinkle of humor and a touch of casual conversation.


Picture John Dewey as the quirky, smart maverick of education, advocating for a more "Let's get our hands dirty with learning" than "Ivory Tower" style of teaching. So let's gather your academic resources and come study with me as we explore the fascinating subject of experiential learning via the distinctive lens of John Dewey.



Few concepts have as much of an influence on education as those held by John Dewey. One of his infamous philosophies lay in the thought of "learning by doing", also known as experiential learning. In his book Education and Experience, published in 1938, Dewey stated, "There is an intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education”.


By this, it can be noted that students are better able to relate concepts and information acquired in the classroom to actual circumstances when they are involved in practical activities and discussion. I, interject here to let him know that the only 'discussions' my peers and I have in class are gossip.



How these discussions would go between my friends & I.


Anyway, he observed that students engage better with academia when they are immersed with concepts through practical happenings in the present and not in distant future. Such as, delving deeper into historical events through interactive simulations and discussions, applying mathematical theories to real-world problem solving settings, and exploring scientific concepts through laboratory experiments. Whatever the outcome, students note their observations and have fruitful discussions on their takeaways.


I cannot lie, experientially teaching would have saved Math teachers a lot of "Where in my life will I use this?" questions. The system did them dirty with that one.

POV: Math done with the logic and reasoning of experiential learning.



Anyway. these discussions–according to Dewey would prepare students for life in a democratic society (Really American of him, right?). The notion is largely that in a democracy, decisions and arguements are made through logic and reason. Cue the irony, the current discourse of the American education system. He ought that through these arguments the children would be better capable of forming their own ideas and envision the world through others' lens.


Personally, I think a lot of people would have benefited from this form of education to break some toxic societal cycles.


Humor aside, Dewey's observations in his 1938 masterwork, "Education and Experience," are still quite relevant today. We nod in agreement with his assertion that there is a "intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education". After all, without some practical, real-world application, what purpose is education?


The notions of such immersive learning is a very beneficial educational strategy that gives students access to a diverse range of resources that go well beyond the walls of the classroom.


Students that actively interact with the course material, and not just for finals, not only get a deeper comprehension of the topic but also develop a greater insight of their own abilities, interests, and passions. The benefits of this immersive learning environment extend beyond the individual, it develops an awareness of community dynamics and a wider perspective on the world.


Engaging in experiential learning initiatives that involve varied organizations and individuals provides opportunities to develop positive professional practices and adaptable skill sets. The satisfaction that students receive from helping to fulfill needs in the community acts as a strong incentive.


Thus, keep Dewey's advice in mind the next time you find yourself questioning the applicability of a mathematical formula or the importance of a historical event. Imagine him nodding in agreement at the idea of real-world applications and laughing at the idea of conversations limited to classroom gossip.


To sum up, we must  keep investigating education as a sequence of interesting, hands-on experiences rather than as a far-off dream. Because, as Dewey so eloquently stated, there is ultimately a close and essential relationship between the process of actual experience and education. In our academic endeavors, here's to experiencing, learning, and, of course, a little comedy.


With that I wish all of us, good luck with studying! (Well, if there even is such a thing...)




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