John Dewey on Education and Pragmatism

A little history about John Dewey, known for his approaches that promoted responsibility: 

Dewey died in 1957 at age 92 in New York City. At his death, he was one of America’s most influential philosophers and educational theorists. He taught for three years but struggled with the expectation that he should be a knuckle-rapping disciplinarian.

After posts at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, he taught at Columbia University from 1904 to 1930. It was at Columbia where he became a major exponent of pragmatism and rejected authoritarian teaching methods. He espoused instructional approaches that built upon the interests of students and the challenge of solving real-life problems.

Teaching today has an emphasis on correct answers. However, in life outside of schooling, success is determined what to do when you do not have the answer.

Dewey would certainly be opposed to current approaches of standardized testing to assess learning. Standardized tests are neither valid nor reliable in assessing educational progress. In addition, they do not emphasize character development, wisdom, or engender desire to learn. On the other hand, these tests are making testing companies and their publishers extremely wealthy—but at the expense of creative teaching and students’ learning life skills.

Society is finally waking up to the misuse of this “testing experiment” as indicated by the increasing number of students who are refusing to take such tests and the increasing number of states that are dropping out of the “Common Core State Standards Initiative”—regardless of its good intentions.