Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dewey and Me

Reading Dewey's "My Pedagogic Creed" was almost like looking into a mirror for all of the reasons I chose to go into education.  There are plenty of us who choose to be teachers because "we like kids."  But if we all did it because we like kids, what types of purposes would we be actually teaching toward?  I chose to become an educator because I believe in the power of education to transform lives and societies.  I believe education can be the most effective way to raise communities out of poverty and combat bigotry.  If they say ignorance is the root of all evil, schools should pose as a battleground against narrow mindedness and social injustices. 

Since Dewey's time, much has changed in our society, as well as our school systems.  We have lost sight of education as a means to develop children socially, as well as academically.  Teaching towards standardized testing and other measures of accountability negate the idea of nurturing a student's individual interests.  Although written in 1897, this quote still holds significance today: "I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life" (Dewey, 1897).  Schools should be an extension of a child's community and be one of the many partners the child has for social, academic, and emotional development. I feel that students do not always view school as this type of community and we, as educators, should make it a goal to engage students in such an environment.  

As a future science teacher, I felt challenged by Dewey's remarks about science being an objective subject with little relevance to a student's previous experiences.  One way to combat this would be to create shared experiences with students surrounding the subject matter.  For example, a quick experiment involving the whole class to demonstrate a scientific principle should be performed before explanation or instruction is given.  This way, students are challenged to think about what they just saw and then work together to describe it through science.  My hope is that my students will use the critical thinking skills gained in my class to induce change in their communities.  I believe in the power of community to bring people together and I believe in the power of education to create a just society. 

1 comment:

  1. Rachael,
    I'm interested to know if/to what extent your educational experience aligned with Dewey's ideas, and/or what stood in the way. I often point to standardized testing as well, but consider what other obstacles might be in your way as you try to realize Dewey's vision. I was curious to know how the science teachers would react to Dewey's thoughts on the subject...