《对外经济贸易大学》 2002年
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【摘要】: John Dewey (1859-1952) was a famous American philosopher and the leading proponent of American pragmatism of education. He has shaped the educational theory with his ideas throughout the twentieth century. John Dewey's pragmatic theory of education challenged the traditional systems of thought and education. It was a reaction against both idealism and realism, two systems that had been popular in the nineteenth century. The traditional theories were occupied with speculation about permanent, eternal, and self-sufficient being. According to the doctrines of an immutable good and fixed order of being, speculative philosophers were concerned with describing metaphysical systems of immutable and necessary truths and principles that lay beyond human experience. In contrast, John Dewey's theory sought to replace absolute and immutable doctrines with experimental inquiry. It argued that the scientific method was the method of experimental and social intelligence. He put forward a problem-solving method or a "complete act of thought" consisting of five steps----the scientific method broadly conceived. Dewey emphasized a changing and evolutionary universe where the human situation was not to transcend experience but rather to use it to solve human problems. In the reconstruction of experience, theory and practice were fused and used in ongoing human activity. Dewey's method of valuation was designed to unify aims, means, and ends. His attention to social action and education gave his theory a decidedly practical orientation. For Dewey, education was a social activity and the school was a social agency that helped shape human character and behavior. The necessity of having a discourse on education as a social establishment may be a tacit tribute to the impact of the pragmatic theory on educational thought. The end of education was growth. Pragmatist educators preferred flexible educational methods that could be used in various ways. The proper method of education was experimental, flexible, open-ended, and oriented toward developing the individual's capacity to think and to participate intelligently in social life. In Dewey's problem-centered school, teaching and learning were active and interactive enterprises; the ends and the means of education were reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. The teacher, as a resource person, guided rather than directed learning. In Dewey's learning situation, the starting point of any activity was the learner's felt needs. The curriculum was composed of both process and content, it was not fixed or an end in itself. In sum, the core of Dewey's educational theory could be summarized as three points: education is a necessity of life;education is growth; education is the reconstruction of experience. However, John Dewey's philosophy did not go unchallenged. Between the two great wars, and especially after World War II, a large number of critics appeared. It is undeniable that pragmatism of education has succeeded in attempting to achieve social efficiency, but it might be overlooking or underplaying other important objectives. The overemphasis on social efficiency may lead to the utilitarianism of WP=7educational behavior and the vocation-orientation of education. In educational practice, the experimental method Pragmatism advocated seemed more effective in early education of children and vocational education, but there was a sense in which the experimental method was arbitrarily applied at least to some situations by the pragmatic theory. The American school curriculum suffered from a lack of clarity regarding goals and rigorous standard of academic achievement. The too much emphasis on experience and activity in curricula helped students to develop their operation skills and creative capability, but neglected their academic achievement. It degraded the criterion of knowledge and intelligence and consequently weakened the foundations of knowledge and intelligence. That is what American people now worry a lot in the high-tech age. However, no matter what criticism John Dewey was given,

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