Instrumental and Pragmatic Theory of J. Dewey - History...

J. Dewey's Instrumental-Pragmatic Theory

The American philosopher John Dewey, along with his predecessors C. Pearce and W. James, is the founder of pragmatism (from the Greek pragma - business). All three authors believed that in the other philosophical directions there is a dualism between consciousness on the one hand and the outside world on the other. Its overcoming is possible if at the heart of philosophy to put the category of activity, doing. In a particular situation, a person considers the consequences of his possible actions and does what makes him successful. Dewey, in a certain respect, modified the original pragmatism of Pierce and James. First, he abandoned the concept of truth, which, he believed, enshrines the above dualism. Secondly, Dewey characterized the specific situation as problematic. Practical activity is overcoming those problems that have to be solved by a person. Thirdly, Dewey gave his whole philosophy socio-political, namely, democratic coloring. This aspect is unavoidable, for a person, living in a society, is forced to improve it in a certain way.

Being an outstanding philosopher, Dewey naturally, of all, reasoned on the basis of philosophy. This fully applies to his inescapable interest in pedagogy. As he believed, a specific embodiment of pragmatic philosophy must be realized in pedagogy.

The problems of pedagogy Dewey devoted four voluminous monographs: "School and society"; (1899), How We Think (1910), "Democracy and Education" (1916), Life experience & education (1938). However, he formulated his pedagogical credo before the publication of these monographs, in 1897. In many respects, it is supplemented by the article "The Child and the Program", which examined the opposite of the two research programs - traditional and romantic. Within the first of them, the central importance is attached to academic subjects, but the interests of the students themselves are not taken into account. The romantic concept puts the learner in the center of attention, his originality and freedom, but at the same time he can not clearly imagine the originality of the child. The way out of the situation is, in full accordance with the pragmatic maxim, learning by doing. It was meant that his own experience, saturated with problematic moments, is always interesting to the student. To experience it is advisable to connect theoretical knowledge.

Knowledge is a tool through which students overcome problems. The tools are all the child's abilities, as well as his hands, eyes and ears. But what is knowledge? To this question, describing his method, Dewey answered in a rather peculiar way: "I believe that the image is a wonderful learning tool. What a child takes from any subject taught to him, only the images that he himself forms in relation to him. I believe that if 90 percent of the energy spent today to force the child to learn certain things would be aimed at caring for the child to form the right images, then the learning process would be much easier. "

The authors, who write about Dewey's pedagogy, usually do not pay attention to this statement, devoted to images. And yet it characterizes the cognitive being of Didu's didactic method, skeptical of such widely known concepts as principle, law and even fact (principles and laws are abstract and, therefore, to a certain degree lifeless. but to life success.) Only real images are truly vital. Dewey's images are, in fact, predictable facts. There is no doubt that such conceptual representations are relevant. Unfortunately, Dewey did not reveal the connection of his scientific images with other concepts.

Learning through images provides students with an interest. However, in the understanding of this circumstance, Dewey demonstrates some extremes. First of all, the life experience of students was interesting to him, to which science joins. But in fact interesting, fascinating and entertaining can be the subjects themselves. Interests are formed, they are not autonomous.

The next plot, which occupies a prominent place in Dewey's pedagogy, is the question of the social content of teaching. He never tired of stressing that the school is a social institution. Equally clearly, Dewey understood that the school should not reproduce the social relations of adults saturated with antagonisms. Dewey's appearance saw in such an organization the educational process, in which he becomes a school of student democracy. It is simpler than adult democracy, but it is freed from their conflicts. The views considered by Dewey are somewhat utopian. Contrary to them, the state is interested in the school preparing students for the existing social order. Dewey never managed to overcome this. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the critical function of the social sciences.

It should be noted that the fate of Dewey's pedagogical legacy was rather ambiguous. Outside the United States, as a rule, the potential of American pragmatism is not understood. He is often opposed to systems that are not stronger than him. This usually leads to an inadequate evaluation of Dewey's pedagogy. In the US, of course, they know a lot about pragmatism. Rarely any American author does without him, and consequently, without the ideas of Dewey. But this circumstance often initiates sharp attacks on him. A critical analysis of the American education system is usually "grounded" on Dewey. And then in his work they try to find decisive gaps. So, after the first artificial earth satellite was launched in the USSR, Dewey was blamed for insufficient attention to fundamental education.


1. J. Dewey gave an actual pragmatic turn to all pedagogy.

2. In the Dewey system, practice drowns out the conceptual content of the sciences.

3. J. Dewey had no clear idea of ​​the conceptual structure of the sciences. His concept image is questionable.

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