Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed

In the Teaching Adult Learners, we are asked to read My Pedagogic Creed from John Dewey. I am surprised I had not yet had an opportunity to read this article, however, it is one I encourage you to take a look at. It resonated with me I think because it seems to focus on areas where I have an interest: informal learning, social constructivism, and connectivism.

Dewey points out, “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.” I think this also applies to adults. Adults are shaped by their environment as they work to solve daily problems often with the aid of others.

It makes sense as we develop instructional lessons and materials for others that they will be used only if they help solve the problem at hand. Dewey notes,

“Without insight into the psychological structure and activities of the individual, the educative process will, therefore, be haphazard and arbitrary. If it chances to coincide with the child’s activity it will get a leverage; if it does not, it will result in friction, or disintegration, or arrest of the child nature.”

This makes sense to me. If you are interested in a topic or you need to solve a problem, instruction that is timely and relevant will be welcomed otherwise it typically will be a waste of time. Everything has to coincide with the learning moment.

As Dewey points out, it is impossible to prepare an individual for a life where information is constantly changing. What we need to do is teach children and adults alike how to continuously learn throughout their lifetime.  We need to teach learners to be individuals rather than have everyone conform to one method or idea.

Learning is constant but it is very much a social activity. I agree with Dewey when he says that school is an extension of community; therefore, school should more closely resemble life rather than something different. When you are at work, you are solving problems, and this requires continuous learning. There is no learning taking place when the task is routine. Since one of the key functions of work is to solve problems, schools should more closely reflect this problem solving structure and teach learners how to solve problems instead of needless memorization. Learning or problem solving at work does not happen in a vacuum, I am constantly bouncing ideas of others. Learning to benefit from others must be part of the education experience rather than focusing on individual work.

“I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing.”

I entirely concur with this thought. Throughout my life I have started down many paths and have taken many forks in the road. Presently, I am not in the place I originally predicted 30 years ago. Not better or worse, just different. There has been one constant during the entire journey, I have been constantly learning and retooling for the present.

If you have not had an opportunity to read this creed, I strongly suggest it.