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John Dewey: Aims of Education | Methods of Teaching

John Dewey: Aims of Education | Methods of Teaching

Aims of Education

Dewey considered life as changeable. He argued that there cannot be any unchangeable aims of changeable life. Therefore, there cannot be any predetermined aims of education. But he himself has mentioned three aims of education-

  1. reconstruction of experiences and capability to adjust with the society
  2. development of social efficiency
  3. training in democratic life

And in these three aims, almost all aims of education are included, such as physical development, mental development, social and cultural development, moral and character development, vocational development and education for democracy. Only, spiritual development of man has not been included.

On the other hand, Dewey does not want to determine any aims of education and on the other talks about training in democracy. These are mutually contradictory. In our view, the aims of education for any society or country should be determined. Formal education cannot be arranged in the absence of definite aims. It is natural to effect changes to them with time. It has been done and will continue to be done. Most of the countries had monarchy or aristocracy in the past, so it was taught then and blind followers to the state were created; today most of the countries have democratic system in which democratic education is imparted and cautious patriots are prepared.

Curriculum of Education

Dewey has not prepared any outline for the curriculum of education. In this regard, he argued that how can an unchangeable curriculum be made for a changeable society. But he has developed the principles of curriculum construction- principle of interest, principle of utility, principle of activity, principle of correlation and principle of flexibility.

Today the curriculum in any country is prepared on the basis of these principles. We remain indebted to John Dewey in this field. But we do not agree with Dewey that religion and morality have no utility in practical life, so they should not be given any place in the curriculum. Our own experience goes that by abiding religion and morality, material life of man also goes on peacefully and happily and he gets spiritual peace.

Methods of Teaching

Dewey has revealed several facts about learning. First, social environment is necessary for learning. Second, learning process begins when the learner has interest in learning. Third, children take interest in learning that which is concerned with their real life. Fourth, a child learns when he is active to learn. And fifth, the children take any fact as a whole. From this view, Dewey laid most emphasis on the development of real learning circumstances and learning by doing and self-experience. From this view, the experimental method is the best method of teaching-learning; in it the children get the opportunities of observation, activity, self-experience, reasoning, generalization and testing.

On the basis of the above teaching principles of Dewey, his pupil Kilpatric constructed the project method. The new methods of teaching, such as Dalton, are also based on Dewey’s teaching principles. At one time, these teaching principles were very popular, but now more effective teaching methods have been developed. Social environment, that is, interaction between teacher and student has been given the most importance for learning. Truly, Dewey has contributed much in this field.


According to Dewey, discipline is an internal power which inclines man to think and behave in accordance with society. According to him, discipline is aimed at creating such a socialized individual who can contribute to the social welfare. And it can be possible only when the individual has the feelings of love, mercy and renunciation for others. Dewey has clarified that this type of feeling can be developed in the democratic environment only and not by the fear of punishment. Punishment produces anger and hatred and not the discipline.

It is true on the part of Dewey to say that the fear of rod cannot develop true discipline. He is also right to say that discipline is an internal feeling or power which inspires man to conduct in a socially-approved manner, and this feeling or power is developed by taking part in the social activities. Discipline develops by itself in the social environment replete with the feelings of love, sympathy and cooperation. There cannot be a question of indiscipline in such an environment. Dewey has termed this type of discipline as self-discipline. This is the true discipline.

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