“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

John Dewey

My take: People are learning creatures. We are learning all the time, in everything that we do and experience. Problems only arise if what surrounds us is negative, and if we haven’t been equipped (by others, by past experiences) to deal with that in a positive way. If the things we are adapting to, learning from and learning about are problematic, then we will develop problematic ideas and habits.

So if we’re interested in trying to ensure that learners have certain skills and understandings, we need to think about creating environments and activities that compel learners to make certain connections and develop certain skills over others. Instead of enumerating what we want them to know and trying to teach those things directly (rarely as effective as most people think), we should be designing learning environments where they can do things that will demand the kind of thinking (and eventually, learning) we want.




“A society which makes provision for participation in its good of all members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life is in so far democratic. Such a society must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind which secure social changes.”


John Dewey

Democracy and Education, 1916