For the sixth blog post and looking into the challenges of progressive education, I selected the reading by Waks “John Dewey and the challenges of Progressive education.” Having the chance to be introduced to John Dewey in this course I have been able to understand the key principles and also understand his focus when it came to education, including learning not passive but as an active experience. Dewey also notes education being the current experience and engagement, not preparing for future experience. In the context of Waks work, it can be seen that Dewey’s background of education involved the setbacks he faced when looking at the social approach toward education and moving away from the factory system. This was established during the industrial ages of learning and factory-oriented approaches to teaching. Dewey has also noted that education requires more than just information, but rather intelligence to contribute to retaining knowledge, an example of this could be crystallized intelligence (Waks, 2013, pg. 76).
To answer the first question, of how we can understand new educational trends in relation to the global network context we can see that there is a transition needed to move away from the crystallized knowledge and focus on achieving a fluid understanding of knowledge. This is needed by many of today’s network users (Waks, 2013, pg. 76). As mentioned in the article, global networks are now demanding more interaction and focusing on the speed of thought as “static bodies of knowledge can be reduced to computer software” (Waks, 2013, pg. 76). With this in mind, we can see trends that involve different approaches to learning such as active and cooperative; as well as interdisciplinary projects, networked distance learning, and global spanning universities (Waks, 2013, pg. 77). Many of these points we can directly relate to remote learning during the pandemic. A point that was highlighted and as educators we need to understand is that due to the growing presence of online resources “students are going to have access to stuff that a teacher can’t control, and the more that happens, teachers are going to have to organize their lessons around it”(Waks, 2013, pg. 77). Technology can be a great tool to help utilize education, yet the challenge could be making sure that students are balancing their personal connections with what is required through the curriculum.
Moving to the second question, how may we build upon and direct these new educational trends to realize the contemporary democratic aspiration of a global network society? We can identify a series of different themes to describe and build these trends in the global network society. The first is looking at structural transformation. Dewey attempted transformation to introduce active learning (Waks, 2013, pg. 77). This was then continued through corporate and political elites supporting a networked-based classroom, as they believed it would help with generating more knowledge (Waks, 2013, pg. 78). Due to the current presence of technology and the computer network era, structural changes are more possible. The second theme looks at nature and child instincts where it is explained that a global network society can be utilized through a neo-progressive blend of constructivist methods (Waks, 2013, pg. 78). The primary logic for this method is looking at the benefits that online learning and computer software can bring as an educational resource. The challenge that stems from this would include the connection between technology and real life. A critical component of education involves making sure students are able to apply skills they learn to real-life situations. Finally, there is embryonic democracy. In this point, it is explained that education is subject to a neo-liberal regime which seeks to privatize public education and impose corporation-operated charter schools emphasizing route learning (Waks, 2013, pg. 80). As we discussed in the class, education and curriculum can be influenced and controlled by those who are in power and political organizations. If different aspects of education are privately controlled, then students may not have access to different forms of technology or other necessary resources. As educators, we need to make sure that students are provided with a proper education experience that is accessible for them.
In conclusion, Wak’s article provided greater insight and understanding toward John Dewey as well as the scale and time that is needed to implement change. This reading also emphasized the presence of online resources and the computer network that students are growing and learning in. To ensure that students have equal access to educational experiences means clear communication with educational leaders and democratic publics.