21 August 2009

Book Review: Experience and Education

Title: Experience and Education
Author: John Dewey
Published: (1938) Pages: 91
Genre: Education, Nonfiction, Philosophy
Rating: 4.5/5

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis

Experience and Education is John Dewey's attempt to clarify the criteria and conditions for a philosophy of education which elevates experience as the primary form of learning.

My Thoughts

Being a younger teacher and rather liberal by nature, I have already learned, experienced, and practiced much of what Dewey had to say in this text. But after reading this text, I better understand much of my more confused and chaotic philosophy.

For me the foundation of the text and the philosophy is the concept that students need to develop knowledge through experience, to have some control over their learning, and to not be subjected to the traditional "teacher as repository of knowledge" form of education. I have always agreed with this, but after teaching for a few years, I found the often-touted alternate of complete student freedom completely impractical. Luckily, in Experience and Education, Dewey continually stresses the importance of not fleshing out the progressive philosophy of education in reaction against the traditional. He argues that an educational philosophy needs to build upon itself and its own ideas and not just be a negative of the philosophy which came before. In this light, Dewey has the instructor as a participant and facilitator in the educational process, not as an observer.

Okay so maybe a review of the actual book instead of my thoughts on the ideas within it.... I found the text well organized and the ideas within it easily accessible due to the use of real life analogies. This is not your impractical, overly wordy, impossible to comprehend statement of philosophy. In keeping with his philosophy of education, Dewey uses recognizable experiences of the reader to instruct the reader.

If you are an educator, a student, a parent, or just interested in education, I highly recommend this book.

Other Reviews
If you have reviewed this book, let me know!


  1. What a wonderful and interesting post! And I would have thought this might be a hard book to read ... but it sounds like it is accessible. I'm glad it spoke to you and helped you make sense of some of your own thoughts on education.

  2. Jenners - I love books on education, and while I admit they are sometimes difficult reads, this one had a wonderful way of using examples and analogies. And it helps that it's only 91 pages long. :)


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