John Dewey says, make it real.

I love John Dewey’s “This I Believe” essay, written in 1897.  It’s called “My Pedagogic Creed,” and it always reminds me to make the classroom a real community, to make every writing invitation a real invitation to meaningful action.  If we are assigning busy work, or even drudgery for the sake of some benefit far off in the distance, we are missing the mark.  The language is kind of stiff, but that gives up plenty to chew on.

He writes:

I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs. Through the responses which others make to his own activities he comes to know what these mean in social terms. The value which they have is reflected back into them. For instance, through the response which is made to the child’s instinctive babblings the child comes to know what those babblings mean; they are transformed into articulate language and thus the child is introduced into the consolidated wealth of ideas and emotions which are now summed up in language.

….

       I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

       I believe that the school must represent present life – life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground.

       I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, forms that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden.

The whole essay isn’t long.  You can read it HERE.

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About Lindsay M. Ellis

Director of the Lake Michigan Writing Project and Writing Across the Curriculum at GVSU
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