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PHIL 115 Lecture Notes - John Dewey, Rote Learning, Critical Thinking

Course Code
PHIL 115

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Week 7 26/02/2013 07:27:00
“Knowledge is power to transform the world.” – John Dewey.
Knowledge doesn‟t give us the power, but rather the inclination to solve
In politics, a given line of a school of thought is borne by the observation
of a problem. Knowledge fosters this as it attempts to better the situation
in a variety of ways.
Dewey‟s pragmatism is not as concerned with ends and unconcerned with
Next step: formulate a question that can produce an answer to a
What is to be done? This is the general way of posing a question. How
should we design a government budget that makes debt more
manageable? Should we focus more on expense reduction or on
tax/revenue increase?
A hypothesis is an answer to a question. “We should increase taxes on
the richest by a few percent, eliminate loopholes that they can exploit,
and increase corporate tax modestly.”
We must follow the progress of the hypothesis through all its terms,
being the practical consequences mainly.
Will this solution create more problems? A bad hypothesis may
resolve an immediate problem, but could create additional
Scientific inquiry is an exemplar for intelligent thought.
Knowledge takes one methodology that underlines all other forms.
It is most clear in scientific laboratories.
Scientific knowledge is the capacity to solve empirical problems that arise
from the course of ordinary human experience.
Inquiry should not be considered as something that only happens in an
academic sense, but also in the discourse of ordinary rational thought.
Philosophy of Education
The most influential original philosopher of education in the early 20th
This is the direct application of his theories of education and knowledge.

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Education is not solely a means to an end. The end is knowledge, not
some shallow perception of education that is so pervasive today, which
generally precedes employment.
We are meant to enter the workforce without resistance.
The drive to undergo education is to ensure employment.
Nobody should be fearing unemployment and failure; the solution is to
stay in the education system.
Education is no more than a means to an end than life is.
What happens in an educational institution should be no different than
what happens in everyday experience.
The main problem with education is that we regard it solely as a means to
an end. Though it is instrumental in our security of employment,
knowledge is also an end.
Education must serve a higher purpose. It must not be economic, but
more of a self-actualizing goal.
If we try to determine the mission of all education is, we have to refrain
from doing what we always want to do: import values onto the learning
process from without, rather than just identify the values within the
learning processes themselves.
What Dewey is not going to do is prescribe what it should be. Instead, he
describes what education is.
Education is not a stockpiling of information.
Further, knowledge =/= information
February 27, 2013
Worries of education:
The problem with the inundation of children in education swamps their
Education should be the process by which we engage in inquiry.
Political argument; what type of people are we producing if we do not
impart the knowledge of inquiry and arguments/opinions?
Future of democracy: Dewey believed that the school system would foster
dumb people who would be caustic towards democratic discourse (anti-
intellectualism, the current state of the US?)
By the time one reaches university, the experience of school is associated
with boredom. Then again, it shouldn‟t be fully entertaining.
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