How can we understand new educational trends in relation to the global network context?
John Dewey believed in:
- Creating connections, specifical connections to nature
- Learning through interacting with the environment
- Interactive, hands-on learning
- Encouraging discussion between students, debate, and constructive problem-solving
- Interdisciplinary education, and understanding connections
Philosophically, he championed education as a necessary agent of social change. He was a well-respected philosopher, educator and psychologist who sought to cultivate a better world and increased connectivity, fairness and experience of humanity for all.
John Dewey’s work and literature The School and Society highlight progressive education with a focused on two main points: his observed views of the tendencies of education.
- New educational trends are reflections of our current social context – and are part of an inevitable effort to bring educational in line with broader systems of globalization.
- He believed in democratic social ideals – so he wondered how we could align educational change with these.
How can we use the work of Dewey and modern like-minded scholars, to examine our present education system?
Scholars who believe in progression and change, and hold a democratic worldview will likely resonate deeply with Dewey’s work, as he describes large-scale trends and movements in education through a progressive lens. What is different from today, then from 100 years ago, is our direction: advancements in technology, science and social justice have formed, emerged and settled many times over. What is not different today about Dewey, is ultimate, his compass of the world. Social idealism promotes continual progress, growth and change, moving towards a more fair and just society.
“New educational trends, including active and cooperative learning, interdisciplinary projects, networked distance learning and global corporate universities, can be accounted for as more or less conscious attempts to bring learning in line with the changing patterns of life and work activities in the global network society.” (Waks, 2013, p. 77).
Dewey’s encouragement towards a more natural environment reminds me of the Yukon First Nations movements in Education. Incredible efforts are made by dedicated educators and stakeholders to offer more land-based opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike. I think this is one example of what Dewey had in mind when he suggested the importance of interconnectedness and nature. Our present education system in the North allows us to establish more connections with both Native culture and nature for our children.
Walks, L. 2013. John Dewey and the challenge of progressive education. International Journal of Progressive Education 9(1).
Dewey, J. (1899). The school and society. University of Chicago Press.