There are several points examined in Rodgers’ article that I agree with, in particular, Dewey’s assertion that education should be treated as a verb instead of a noun. Education is not a thing. It is an action. It requires conscious effort on the part of the learner, or, at the very least, an occurrence that leads to a change in the subject. We should all recognize that we must be active participants in our learning experience. It is not merely a thing that will happen or has happen, but we must make it happen. Dewey proposes that reflective thinking is more or less synonymous with with action of education, and without it, very little actual learning will occur.
This is not my first exposure to Dewey. In fact, as a psychology major I have encountered him several times previous. Dewey is the founder of the pragmatist movement. This is based on the functionalist theory of mind which states that the mind is something that has evolved and each process of the mind has a specific purpose. There is some biological reason that the mind is doing the things it is doing. The pragmatist movement takes this theory one step further stating that we should take this knowledge and apply it to make people learn more efficiently.
On of the struggles of Dewey’s movement was and is a flaw with educators. Many educators do not use psychology research in the classroom. I do research in the psychology department about preschool children’s motivation and self regulation. One particular aspect of my job is to code teacher interviews. Over and over I hear about teachers practices in the classroom that contradict the most basic psychological principals. This expresses to me one of two possibilities, both discussed in the article. First, the average preschool teacher is probably not well equipped to decode the dense nuances of a text like Dewey’s. The failure to implement useful techniques could be a lack of information brought on by the inability to translate scientific texts for the average individual. Second, and more likely in my opinion, is a lack of motivation. Rodgers notes that for reflection to occur, there must be the desire of the teacher to introspect. Many teachers, I feel, lack the motivation to really examine the failings of their classrooms. If they do realize a flaw, they then must become motivated to research how to change it and then furthermore to implement the change. This is a significant amount of effort on the teachers part.
Rodgers notes reflection in the community as an important aspect of reflection as education. In my opinion this may be the solution to the above proposed dilemma and also where writing enters into my perspective of reflection. What is needed to generate change is reflection upon the nature of education that is accessible to teacher. Sure, there are essays and texts like Dewey’s written from a scientific perspective and these, of course, are the fundamental provable facts on which the physiological principles of education are based; however, they are reality useless unless they are put forth in an easy and implementable way for teachers. What I propose is a concise, plain language explanation of psychological principles of education accompanied by suggested methods for easy ways of introducing them into the classroom. Then I propose the community of teachers meet and discuss the success and failings of these activities. Making it understandable and simply for teachers to educate themselves and uses these techniques with there students is, in my opinion, the basis for education reform.