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written by Adrienne Cecile Rich

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

john dewey and the filipino educational system

i'll post this quick... easy enough since this is just a copy-paste of an email i sent to my prof.


just an excerpt about John Dewey's progressive education, lifted directly from wikipedia:

The central concept of John Dewey's view of education was that greater emphasis should be placed on the broadening of intellect and development of problem solving and critical thinking skills, rather than simply on the memorization of lessons. This is because Dewey saw the public school's relation to society was much like a repair organ to the organism of society. One of Dewey's main theories was the incorporation of the student's past experiences into the classroom (Experience and Education 1938). This was a job of both the educator and the caretaker.

The quality of experiences is key in the development of Dewey's progressivism. Without beneficial experiences growing off prior ones, education would not be able to use these experiences to reflect on the past, work through the present and prepare for the future (Experience and Education 1938).

While Dewey's educational theories have enjoyed a broad popularity during his lifetime and after, they have a troubled history of implementation due to the fact that there were no teachers qualified to incorporate these ideas. (Experience and Education 1938). Dewey's writings can be difficult to read, and his tendency to reuse commonplace words and phrases to express extremely complex reinterpretations of them makes him susceptible to misunderstanding. So while he held the role of a leading public intellectual, he was often misinterpreted, even by fellow academics.



i'm impressed with Dewey's progressive education, yet even if it has been philosophized way back in the 40s, i can't help but think that the current educational system is outdated as far as progressive education is concerned.

as we know, our current educational system is anti-progressive in terms of Dewey's philosophy. i'd like to take on why philippine education is basically anti-Deweyian. :D

the main idea and the very problem of our current educational system is that teachers tell students that real life starts after college (or after the student finishes his/her education, whenever that may be). the teachers tell the students that they are equipping the child with skills that he would need "in the real world" after they graduate.

many would agree that a filipino childhood is ridden with hardships at home and in whatever environment, and because of this, the schools become a mode of escape, such that the when children enter the schools they feel sheltered. it is only after they graduate that they would be faced with the "real" problems, but while they're in school, they can be care-free. in other words, kampante sila.

what is wrong with this scenario is that "the real world" is already unfolding in the life of the child.

relating this to Dewey's philosophy, there is no continuity of education, in the sense that teachers and educators don't teach how children can cope with the hardships unique to the filipino experience.

we are equipping the child with the skills such that when he becomes of age, he is ready to escape these hardships that he has known in his childhood, instead of learning the right skills to bend these hardships to his advantage.

Deweyian philosophy tells us that we learn the skills we need through experience, that we can restructure and change in the present and for the future. but because our education in our schools is a mode of escape (our experience), that is also what we apply later on in life: we escape the hardships by simply leaving the country (our restructuring).

Dewey may be the same with Durkheim that we should aim to produce good citizens, and our current educational system is far from this goal. what we teach is different from what the students should know. as what greek philosopher seneca said, "vitae, non scholae, discimus," or that we learn for life and not for school.

i'm not sure if i have applied this as aptly, but this is how i have found Dewey's philosophy (and problematized it with the current times).

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