John Dewey: How the "Father of Progressive Education" Can Help You Know if Your Child Is Getting a Good Education by Tales from Classroom

John Dewey: How the "Father of Progressive Education" Can Help You Know if Your Child Is Getting a Good Education

John Dewey is known as the "father of progressive education," a type of education that places the students at the center of learning and values educative, meaningful experiences. Few education scholars disagree that this approach to education isn’t most effective in developing students as intellectuals and as people. Here are three Dewey quotes that are most salient to modern education, with an explanation of why these can inform you on the quality of your child’s education:

  • “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” You want to see instances where your child struggles or is at times unsuccessful. It’s important to teach kids that failure is not a bad thing, but rather it’s instructive. Failure is an opportunity to teach your child resiliency, self-reflection, drive and how to handle a lack of immediate success. 
  • “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” You do not want to see photocopied worksheets coming home day after day; that generally indicates your child is not engaging in meaningful experiences where they are challenged to problem solve, critically think or ask thoughtful questions. Real learning happens when doing, not regurgitating information on sheets of work (aka worksheets). 
  • “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.” Your child should be using her or his imagination at school regularly. That comes in many forms such as play, artistic creation, writing, manipulating objects, coming up with stories and much more. Ask your child about how they got to use their imaginations or be creative in school. 

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