Date of publication: 2017-08-14 18:39
Rejecting devotion to transcendent truth and the classical curriculum which responds to it, Dewey proposed instead instrumentalism a quasi-Darwinian version of philosophical pragmatism whereby mind and truth are conceived in purely evolutionary terms. What is the mind? A tool for coping with the environment. What is “true”? Whatever is practical, whatever works. Instrumentalism led Dewey to regard most religions and philosophies as little better than egocentric escapism. Again, from The Quest for Certainty :
The continued mission of The John Dewey Academy is to empower bright but underachieving adolescents to overcome social, emotional, and academic challenges in order to attend quality colleges and lead healthy, productive, and successful lives.
This critique of “otherworldliness” and of “the salvation of the personal soul” had been already foreshadowed in Dewey’s highly influential Democracy and Education:
At Johns Hopkins Dewey came under the tutelage of two powerful and engaging intellects who were to have a lasting influence on him. George Sylvester Morris, a German-trained Hegelian philosopher, exposed Dewey to the organic model of nature characteristic of German idealism. G. Stanley Hall, one of the most prominent American experimental psychologists at the time, provided Dewey with an appreciation of the power of scientific methodology as applied to the human sciences. The confluence of these viewpoints propelled Dewey's early thought, and established the general tenor of his ideas throughout his philosophical career.
Existentialism was largely an attempt to articulate what it means for human significance to declare that God is dead. The biblical teaching of creation rooted human meaning and identity in God. But in the eighteenth century, Enlightenment philosophers declared that there is no God, and if there is no God, then man must create his own identity. Reality "out there" no longer gives any answers to the human cry, Who am I?
Who has the full rights and obligations of a citizen? This question is especially contested with regard to children, immigrant aliens, and individuals who have been convicted of felonies.
Combining his views on education with observations at The Laboratory School, John produced a succession of books. These included: My Pedagogic Creed, The Child and the Curriculum and The School and Society.
The inclination to learn from life itself and to make the conditions of life such that all will learn in the process of living is the finest product of schooling. 65