02 September 2009

A philosophy of education and experience?

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John Dewey proposed a philosophy of education that focused on traditional education (education from without) and progressive education (experience, education from within). Traditional education focuses mainly on content, but it can become a “banking concept” for the transfer of knowledge.

Progressive education (education from within, or experience) is the other school of thought. Basically, it is grows out of our life experiences; but without sufficient or proper content, it will do little to offer growth or development. For Dewey, there needed to be a proper tension between education and experience.

As an educator in the church, I think we need the tension between what we are taught and what we experience in our spiritual formation. Teaching that is little more than throwing words out to the learner and hope that somehow they will appropriate them and figure out what we need to know and put into practice is not much use, either to the learner or to the body of Christ . 

Our preaching and teaching needs to educate us (think of it, if you will, as providing the raw materials), it should also provide guided, practical experiences that will help us to understand and assimilate what we have learned and how to apply it to life in order to promote growth and development in our spiritual formation.

Next time: What are we to teach?

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