Reflections on John Dewey's Education and Experience Essay

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Reflections on John Dewey's Education and Experience April 10, 2012 In the chapter titled "Criteria of Experience," Dewey lays out his view of what an experience is and what it means to the learner. He describes the many aspects of experiences and points out the importance of recognizing that continuity and interaction are essential in formation of worthwhile experiences. Dewey begins his discussion of continuity rather simply, explaining that each persons experience in some way affects the next. He is also wise to remind the reader that the teacher's experiences have an effect on students' learning. He then frames an argument about the continuity of experience to the objective conditions that exist around the experience. Dewey says, "experience does not go on simply inside a person" (pg. 39); it is a force that requires interaction with people and things from the outside world. He explains, "Every genuine experience has a active side which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which experiences are had" (pg. 39). I agree with Dewey's statements about experience in the book thus far, but am wondering about this quote. Does the experience change the conditions it takes place in or is it the other way around? From what I have observed in schools across the city, the conditions that teachers and students find themselves in create change in their experiences. While considering this question, I have tried to place it in the context of our modern day urban school district with two hypothetical situations. Suppose you have two classes that are learning about factors affecting plant growth. One class is under resourced. They are learning this unit on plants from the textbook with creative use of small groups and worksheets but the teacher doesn't have the means to conduct many experiments. The second class is using a well-designed science curriculum

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