An Overburdened Term: Dewey's Concept of "Experience" as Curriculum Theory

An Overburdened Term: Dewey's Concept of "Experience" as Curriculum Theory Jayson Seaman and Peter J. Nelsen From the start, John Dewey's ideas about education have been prone to misunderstanding. One of the greatest casualties has been "experience," a term so routinely misappropriated that Dewey ultimately decided to abandon it. He wrote, "I would abandon the term `experience' because of my growing realization that the historical obstacles which prevented understanding of my use of 'experience' are, for all practical purposes, insurmountable. I would substitute the term `culture' because with its meanings as now firmly established it can fully and freely carry my philosophy of experience" (1981, p. 361). Dewey evidently recognized that a main challenge to understanding experience was the conceptual weight the term had been made to carry. Because it was so central to his entire metaphysics, the challenge of understanding experience spills over into the project of grasping his vision for schooling, including what he was fundamentally attempting to do by employing experience in an educational sense in the first place. Adding to this challenge is the range and organization of Dewey's ideas on the matter: he sometimes wrote or lectured about experience and education together (1938), sometimes independently (1932, 1934a, 1990), and sometimes in relation to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Education and Culture Purdue University Press

An Overburdened Term: Dewey's Concept of "Experience" as Curriculum Theory

Education and Culture, Volume 27 (1) – Jun 3, 2011

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Purdue University Press
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Copyright © Purdue University Press
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1559-1786
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Abstract

Jayson Seaman and Peter J. Nelsen From the start, John Dewey's ideas about education have been prone to misunderstanding. One of the greatest casualties has been "experience," a term so routinely misappropriated that Dewey ultimately decided to abandon it. He wrote, "I would abandon the term `experience' because of my growing realization that the historical obstacles which prevented understanding of my use of 'experience' are, for all practical purposes, insurmountable. I would substitute the term `culture' because with its meanings as now firmly established it can fully and freely carry my philosophy of experience" (1981, p. 361). Dewey evidently recognized that a main challenge to understanding experience was the conceptual weight the term had been made to carry. Because it was so central to his entire metaphysics, the challenge of understanding experience spills over into the project of grasping his vision for schooling, including what he was fundamentally attempting to do by employing experience in an educational sense in the first place. Adding to this challenge is the range and organization of Dewey's ideas on the matter: he sometimes wrote or lectured about experience and education together (1938), sometimes independently (1932, 1934a, 1990), and sometimes in relation to

Journal

Education and CulturePurdue University Press

Published: Jun 3, 2011

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