PRAGMATISM

(As a Philosophical Approach to Curriculum Development) Pragmatism evolved into a philosophy that saw man as formed through interaction with his natural and social environment. The educated person was always viewed by Dewey in a social context. Neither the individual nor the society had any meaning without the other. Dewey created a model of the educated person as the reflective man, one who was critical of the authority of custom and tradition as determinant of belief and action and who preferred the method of science, of organized intelligence as the best way to solve his problems. Pragmatism is associated with such thinkers as C.S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey. Being a dominant American philosophy, it exerted a strong influence on the shape of education in the United States and affected educational ideas and practices in Europe and Japan. In My Pedagogic Creed (1879), How We Think (1910), Democracy and Education (1916), Human Nature and Conduct (1922), Dewey formulated a viewpoint that constituted a rigorous intellectual core of the progressive-education movement, although he criticized many of the manifestations of progressive pedagogy in practice. For example, he viewed the child s interests as vitally important and to be neither repressed nor humored. To repress them was to commit the fault of most traditional education by ignoring the child s unique bent. But to humor them was to commit the fault of some progressive education by failing to discover the underlying power below the passing whim. Subject matter, Dewey argued, should consist of activities that enabled the child to reflect upon his social experiences. When subject matter preceded or was unrelated to the child s experiences, it was largely meaningless. It gained meaning through being made the medium for continued reflection upon, and reconstruction of, experience. (Reference: The New Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 25, 15th Ed., 1995, pg. 727) The Characteristics of Pragmatism as a philosophical approach to curriculum and curriculum development are the following: 1. Knowledge is true if it is workable. The test of truth is in its workability. (Andres and Francisco, pg. 49) Pragmatism holds truth or reality consists in what works. A thing is true if it proves good and serves a desirable end. It is false if it does not work out. The criterion for any act is functionality. Ideas are good only if they are workable. The value of a thing is its workability. 2. Pragmatism recognizes the importance of personality. It emphasizes an emotion but subordinates them to the will.

3. Pragmatism considers the result more than the motive. Even if the plan is poor but the results are good, the value of the plan is great. 4. Education must prepare the young for membership in a modern community and train them in scientific techniques in the solution of problems vital to community life. 5. Education is child-centered. It is based on the interest and experience of the child who must develop knowledge and ideas indispensable to his life in the community. He must have the freedom to choose what he thinks is good for him. 6. There is no fixed curriculum for all the children because each child is different from the others and each will follow his interest and experience. Hence, the curriculum is constructed as the learning progresses. 7. Education is a preparation for life. But it is life itself. 8. The most popular method of teaching is the project method because it lends itself to the utilization of the child s activities and interests. As the child plans, directs, executes and evaluates his project, he acquires the training essential for democratic living. There are no definite steps to be followed; each stage is an opportunity for discovery and experimentation. The child is thus in constant movement and action, inquiring, experimenting and discovering. 9. The teacher s most important concern is to teach the child to do, not to know, to try out the thing he wants to do, not to simply think about them. The child learns not so much as when he is told to do, as when he finds out for himself what should and can be done. (Reference: Curriculum and Curriculum Development, Calderon, Jose F., Educational Publishing House 2005, pg. 217-218)