Trust The Children

Monday, June 15, 2009


One of the great influencers of education in the first half of the 20th century was John Dewey. A controversial figure, he stirred the pot by asking questions about how children learn. This in contrast to how must something be taught? It seems funny that a teacher would look at a subject, decide how to teach it, and give little or no thought to the audience and how they might best receive the information so as to put it to good use. Yet, as we all know, that happens all the time. It is a very hard thing, I am finding out, to ask first, "what makes instruction interesting to my student audience?"

I made this chart from some writings of Dewey as found in Malcolm Knowles book, "The Adult Learner." Never mind that a Dewey quote about adult learning may apply to children. It seems it does, quite nicely.

Here is the chart:

Sorry it is so small. How do these ideas apply to educating children at home? Go ahead and give it some thought?


  • HI! thanks for this post about Dewey. I recently went through one of his books that I read in college with my current unschooling eye. I was excited to agree with alot of what he was saying and eventually found where we diverge. His justification for formalized "education" is that we live in a too complex society to learn the way we as humans traditionally learned. Ahha! i disagree! Our society is not too complex for our own kids to figure out with the help of engaged people around them.

    By Anonymous Bronwen, at 5:11 PM, August 11, 2009  

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