What is the aim of education according to John Dewey?

According to Dewey the aim of education is the development of child’s powers and abilities. Impossible to lay down any definite principle for a particular kind of development, because this development will differ from one child to the next, in conformity with the unique abilities of the individual. The educator should guide the child according to the abilities and powers he observes in it. It is better, in Dewey’s opinion, to leave the question of educational objectives unanswered. In general, the aim of education is to create an atmosphere in which the child gets an opportunity to be active in and contribute to the social awakening of the human race. From the pragmatic standpoint, education aims at creating social efficiency in the child. Man is a social being who must develop at all. For this reason, education must aim at creating social efficiency and skill.

Pragmatic education aims at instilling democratic values and ideals in the individual. Every individual must be given the freedom to develop his own desires and achieve his ambitions. Every individual must be equal to every other member of society. Such a society can be created only when there is no fundamental difference between the individual and collective interest. Education should create co-operation and harmony among individuals, instilling democratic values in school going children. In fact, the school itself is a miniature form of democratic society in which the child undergoes various forms of development, of which moral education and development is the most important. Morality can be developed through active participation, because such participation in the activities of the school trains the child in shouldering responsibility.

Pragmatic education is basically practical inasmuch as it aims at preparing the individual for future life in such a manner that he can fulfill his requirements and achieve contentment. Dewey was critical of the contemporary modes of education because they tend to drive the child away from democratic life by giving advantages to a small section of society. It also lays more stress on book or formal teaching than is really desirable. Hence Dewey laid the foundations of a progressive education in the form of a Progressive School, which aimed at establishing democratic values and developing the child’s personality.

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