Experiencing Through Education, Not Vice Versa

In “Educating and Experience,” John Dewey makes the distinction between the two title words in an attempt to convey how every experience itself does not necessarily lead to education, or at least not in a positive and productive manner. In the text he says, “the belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative. Experience and education cannot be directly equated to each other”(13). Although I do see some truths to these statements, I do also disagree with some of it as well.

For instance, I take particular interest in the statement “Experience and education cannot be directly equated to each other”(13). I would argue against this statement in a similar way to the square-rectangle concept where every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square. I think that education equates directly to experience but not vice versa. Education should be seen as an experience in its own right whether or not the pupil regards it as such. It’s no new discovery that power of education is invigorating and provides students with plenty of experience.

However, I do agree with Dewey in terms of experiences not necessarily being educative(13). Experiences can be life altering and very educative. For example, people on shows like “Survivor” and “Naked and Afraid” learn through experience as they try to accommodate living in the wilderness. But a counterexample would be of a typical college student attending a party. Granted, the results from experience may vary, but I highly doubt that this kind of activity would result in any type of educative enlightening. What do you guys think? Do you think that education and experience do equate to each other?


2 responses to “Experiencing Through Education, Not Vice Versa

  1. I’m gonna have to say that I do think that experience = education. Just because an experience is “miseducative” does not discount its worth as an educational experience. Dewey describes miseducative experience as one that has the “effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience”. For example, a student has a bad experience in History class which influences his other experiences in History class in the future. Even in this case there are things to be learned, for instance, about the student’s own self and handling of the experience; the student can learn from this experience how he reacts under different circumstances and maybe in the future do better. Basically, I am trying to say that I do not think that any one can say for certain that you can learn more from one experience than you can from any other or that you can qualify what is “educative” and “miseducative”. Whether experience is positive or negative there is still something to be learned in every case.

  2. I agree with Dewey on this. I also believe that experience and education cannot be equated to each other. Although one can find valuable lessons in both positive and negative experiences (As Trieste commented), I think that there are some experiences that are just harmful to a person. For example, imagine a person’s first experience with public speaking was an embarrassing one with the entire audience ridiculing the performance. This can cause the individual to shy away from future public speaking situations. This experience greatly limited his potential. Some experiences can indeed restrict the growth and development of one’s education and character.

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