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Pragmatism and Education

Pragmatism and Education

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Published by V.K. Maheshwari

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Published by: V.K. Maheshwari on May 03, 2010
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PRAGMATISM AND EDUCATION
Dr. Suraksha Bansal Dr. V.K.Maheshwari Dr.Saroj AgarwalPh.D Ph.D Ph.DSr.Lecturer Principal Sr.LecturerDIMS, Meerut DIMS, Meerut DIMS, MeerutINDIA INDIA INDIAragmatism is essentially a humanistic philosophy, maintaining that mancreates his own values in the course of activity that reality is still in themaking and awaits its part of completion from the future, that to anunascertainable extent our truths are manmade products.Ross, James, S., Groundwork of Educational Theory.
Pragmatism as a philosophy of education has only come into its own in thevery late nineteenth and the twentieth century¶s. This is largely due to the work of a number of educational philosophies such as William Heard Kilpatrick, BoydBode, and George Counts. These men built an education structure on a philosophical foundation wrought by such philosophers as Chauncey Wright,William James, Charles S.Peirce, and the man who best combined the roles of educator and philosopher, John Dewey.Pragmatism in education came into prominence to fulfill an obvious need inthe educational thought of America. With education becoming available to all menrather than to a select few, the country was searching for a way of viewing theeducational process other than through the framework provided by the older ³elitist´ philosophies of education. This was not a new concern since it hadinfluenced to some degree the thought of Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, andother; but in light of the economic, political, social, and scientific change occurringin the United State it was becoming increasingly urgent that such a rationale bedeveloped. Just what were the changes that needed to be dealt wit by educationalthinkers?
 
 As an outgrowth of the changes brought about by the Civil War, the fabric of rural Americanism had been rent. America was rapidly becoming an urban, multi-group society in which the ongoing dialogue of democracy was bogging down because of the inability of people to talk with each other. Whole new languageswere emerging as the nation became more industrialized and special interest grouparose.Just as science and technology have been a blessing to us, they have also been something of a burden. Americans are not, as Max Lerner has so cogently pointed out, theorist; we are concerned with the end products of our genius. Wewant to know, ³will it work and what good is it to us?´ whether we profess to being humanists, idealists, realists, or what ever other term one might identifyAmericans by, we are, as a people, deeply pragmatic.
Definition of Pragmatism
According to Robert R. Rusk, the Oxford Dictionary first referred to theterm µpragmatic¶ in 1643 and the term µpragmatism¶ in 1663. According to theConcise Oxford Dictionary the term µpragmatic¶ means dealing with mattersaccording to their practical significance or immediate importance. The termµpragmatism¶, according to the same source, means ³Doctrine that evaluates anyassertion solely by its practical consequences and its bearing on human interests.The term pragmatism has been derived from the Greek term
pragma
which meansuse. Thus, pragmatism is an ism according to which uses the criteria of reality.Pragmatism is basically an epistemological undertaking keynoted by itstheory of truth and meaning. This theory state that truth can be known only throughits practical consequences and is thus and individual or a social matter rather thanan absolute. This is implicit in the following statement by Peirce: Consider whateffects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceived the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.Pragmatism sees thought as intrinsically connected with action. The value of an idea is measured by the consequences produced when it is translated into action.Pragmatism is based on traditional ways of thinking and finding waystoincorporate new ideas to achieve a desired result. This philosophy keeps peoplelookingfor effective methods for completing specific tasks. Because the world isconstantlychanging, people continue to change things of the past. The nature of 
 
 pragmatism reflectsa naturalistic humanism approach. It also developed aworldview through the scientific revolution. This is an American philosophy withroots from the British, Europeans, and ancient Greeks.
H
istorical Retrospect of Pragmatism
One of the most important schools of philosophy of education is pragmatism. It is also as old as idealism, naturalism and realism since it is more anattitude, than a philosophy. In the fifth century B.C. Heraclitus said, ³One can notstep twice into the same river.´ Thus, Reality is a flux, things are ever changing.Modern pragmatists agree with the Greek sophists. According to Protagores, ³Manis the measure of all things.´ This maxim is the basis of modern humanism.Another famous sophist Gorgias used to say, ³Nothing exists and if thing exists wecan never know it.´ This agnosticism has led to relativism in pragmaticepistemology.1.
The Nineteenth Century: Chauncey Wright, Charles Sanders Peirce, andWilliam James.
 A. Chauncey Wright is perhaps the least know of the nineteenth centurycontributors to the pragmatic movement. At Harvard he performed brilliantly inscience and mathematics but only poorly in languages. Wright was constantly plagued with ill-health and had a propensity to drink and smoke to excess. Hemade friends easily, was well liked, and was considered a leader among theintellectuals. Wright became a member of the Metaphysical Club and during thoseyears William James wrote of him that, ««he was not merely the great mind of avillage ± if Cambridge will pardon the expression ± but either in London or Berlinhe would, with equal ease, have taken the place of master which he held with us.If his forties, Wright was the acknowledge intellectual leader of Cambridge.Peirce, James and other flocked to him for intellectual leadership.B. Although considered the founder of the American school of pragmatism,Peirce¶s major contribution to the intellectual stream of pragmatism was hiscriterion of truth or meaning. This was, for him, a methodological approach to his philosophy of idealism.Peirce influence on William James, along with the influence of the brilliantutilitarian thinker, Chauncey Wright, did much to clarify James¶ thinking. Peirce¶sinfluence on Dewey was less direct although Peirce was lecturing in logic at the

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