Looking to the Future vs. End Goals

In John Dewey’s Experience and Education, he mainly discusses his ideas regarding progressive versus traditional education and how they both relate to experience. One section I found interesting was on page 76, and I thought it might be interesting to compare this example to standardized testing or AP classes.

On this page, Dewey explains the difference between the progressive and the traditional educator. He explains that the progressive educator constantly looks to the future, and tries to relate the current experiences he is providing his students to ones they will experience in the future. He is looking to enhance a student’s education by having their current experience in the classroom be influenced by the past while also influencing the future experiences.

On the other hand, the traditional educator only has a narrow scope of the future. Dewey says, “the problem for the progressive educator is more difficult for the teacher in the traditional school. The latter had indeed to look ahead…he could be content himself with thinking of the next examination period or promotion to next class. He could envisage the future in terms of factors that lay within the requirements of the school system as that conventionally existed” (Page 76). With idea in mind, I started thinking about standardized testing and AP classes. They are exactly what Dewey is talking about when he says the traditional educator has an end goal in mind, something he or she has to cover in class in order for the students to move on.

It is not necessarily a bad thing to have the school system regulated and a certain amount or type of material required to be taught in classroom. However, Dewey favors an environment where the educator worries more about the future of the student, rather than the exam they must take at the end of the semester to asses what they know. So, from this perspective, AP exams and standardized tests are not good in the sense the students are being taught to pass the tests, not experiences to help better them in the future. But my question then becomes, isn’t the material on the exams worthwhile to learn, thus being taught with the end goal of an exam helps students learn things they need to know? What do you think?

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