Experience This

In the reading we were assigned for Monday, John Dewey put a lot of emphasis on the importance of experience in education. His connection between personal experience and education remind me of my first blog post, “To Practice or To Preach?”

In the post, I wrote about Plato’s Meno and the question of learning through experience and learning through words. The process of learning through words seems to match with Dewey’s traditional education theory (a system of teaching where the student is taught using the knowledge that has already been accumulated and is more limited), and the learning through experience seems to match more with Dewey’s progressive education theory (where the student is taught using personal experience and are given more freedom in choosing what to learn).

The difference between the two thinkers is that Dewey’s two opposing theories of education are not mutually exclusive. He says that although they approach education differently, they still both use experience as a method for educating students. The difference is in the quality of the experience they use. I think this is an important development in the argument between the two different methods of education, because I think that experience is inseparable from education. Whether it’s learning about physics, pondering about philosophy, or playing water polo, I can confidently say that experience has been a factor in the education in each subject.

I think it’s interesting how even though more than two centuries have passed, the conflict between the two is still a relevant topic of discussion. Can you guys think of any other ways Plato and Dewey’s thoughts overlap?

One response to “Experience This

  1. In posts in the past I have also discussed how experience is intertwined with education. I agree with everything you are saying; however, when you say, “experience is inseparable from education” I do not necessarily agree and would perhaps phrase it “education is dependent on experience” or vice versa. The reasoning behind this is because many of my posts about education have to do with my personal experience learning music.

    Music theory and the teaching of this subject is completely separate from the experience of playing an actual instrument. Learning to read music and how it should sound is not “inseparable” from playing an instrument, and people can be educated about playing music without ever actually picking up an instrument. But if you are seeking to be educated about how to play, for example the flute, it is entirely dependent on your experience practicing and holding the instrument in your hands. But part of that education too is the traditional education of reading music. So, the point of this lengthy explanation is that I do not think education and experience are inseparable, but rather dependent on each other in some way.

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