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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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8 Comments


Your approach to discussing John Dewey's concept of experiential learning is both engaging and informative. You've woven together Dewey's ideas with education, discussions and how it intertwines each other. Honestly your take on how conversations or class discussions become part of gossips was both humorous and insightful. A great blog, and the added personal comments are what make this and outstanding blog in my view. To understand experiential learning and how it can break societal norms and cycles is a great point, I wish to see this inforced.

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Dec 01, 2023
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I share your hope for the reinforcement of these ideas. i do see it being applied in some fields of education, however other fields of education could use a little sprinkle of experiential learning to help children navigate the real world too.

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Beautifully written blog and very engaging. I agree that practical activities or discussions make learning easier and better, not only is it very interactive but one can then relate to it too. I personally too have felt that activity or discussion class makes me learn better and I happen to absorb things better, rather than listening to long boring lecttures. Moreover, I enjoy going to these classes too and look forward to attending them. I wish discussions and practical activities were part of high school too as this is something I only got to know after coming to university. Not only does experiential learning improve understanding, it also enables us to identify our strengths and passions. It also helps us…

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Dec 01, 2023
Replying to

I sincerely appreciate your nice remarks. Regarding the importance of debates and hands-on activities in the learning process, I wholeheartedly concur. They not only improve comprehension but also provide enjoyment to the educational process. Regretfully, high school frequently overlooks these elements. In fact, experiential learning extends beyond the classroom; it promotes empathy, helps us identify our talents, and sparks thought-provoking conversations. And I'm happy that you value the songs' extra personal touch!

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I love the humor of this blog lol, made me snort! but that aside, i do think education should have the practical aspect to it but it HAS to be carefully and creatively planned otherwise it just becomes something to perform in a certain way to get marks and not much learning is extracted

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Dec 01, 2023
Replying to

I'm glad the comedy was enjoyable to you! I completely believe that practical and creative education are important, learning should be motivated by real experiences rather than merely doing tasks for grades. Real comprehension is fostered by challenging and engaging education. However, when I think in the context of Pakistan I don't know if our resources would fully allow it

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This is such a well written piece and I totally agree with the fact that doing something practically has a lot deeper impact on the learning process than just learning something for the sake of it - such as the quadratic formula that I'm still waiting to see where to use now that I have graduated High School. Speaking from experience I learn things faster when they're associated with something such as a memory that is linked to that learning process. What's sad is that this argument was first presented years ago and yet we still are stuck in a learning system that revolves around theoretical learning of regression curves that I don't see myself using anytime soon. Fist bump…

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Nov 30, 2023
Replying to

I really hear you, but first of all, huge congrats to all of us on making it through high school algebra. I'm still holding out for that one wonderful moment when I'll have to solve a quadratic equation...I do still think there are some short comings to Dewey's philosophy but that doesn't take away from the fact that some subjects must be taught with practicality. It seems like a lazy way out to just have text books presented to students and not actually TEACH them. Teaching and knowledge lies in the practicality of it all or at least that's what I think. I do however acknowledge that with the lack of resources in most Pakistani schools it may not be…

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