I’ve been reading a lot of Dewey lately for one of my grad classes and I like the point he makes about differing educational philosophies. Dewey makes it a point to let readers know that positioning philosophies against each other isn’t a real solution. Extreems rarely have the capacity to create learning experiences that meet the needs of learners and society. Instead, we need to find the middle ground. It is in the middle ground where the principles of our educational philosophy will be able to grow and turn into meaningful learning experiences.
Why am I sharing what I learned about Dewey and his thoughts on education? When it comes down to it, there often is a lot of talk about fixing education and moving completely away from the traditional style of teaching, but I tend to worry about what it is replaced with. What are the underlying principles of this new education? If you can’t tell me that, it might be just as well that we stick with the devil we know rather than the devil we don’t. I’m not saying I’m against innovation and change. In fact the opposite is true. However, there needs to be a well thought out line of thinking that lead to central principles that will support your philosophy. Only then will you be able to find the middle ground between what you are currently doing and what you want to do. It’s not an either-or decision. It’s a modify-and-enhance decision. While the result might look radically different, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t components from the traditional educational experience still present in the new education.
Change is compromise, not intransigence.