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American Thought Pragmatism and Education in America

Pragmatism and Education in America

Pragmatism is an original ism from America. It was emerged during the 19th and 20th century in America. Pragmatism also reflected the Americans way of life. As we can see that pragmatist in America claims about truth, knowledge, morality, and politics must be tested in this way. Furthermore, this ism has many aspect to discuss, and one interesting aspects to discuss is education. Furthermore, this ism has a great contribution to education in America, because John Dewey (as one of great pragmatism philosophers) really concern about the education. According to Horton, he is stated that Deweys principal work was done in the field of education. At that time, Dewey proposed a new education system which is different with the conventional education. He made such a revolution of education in America. He believed that the school regarded not as preparation for life, but as a part of life (Horton, 1967:173) In this paper, I will focus to the influence of pragmatism to education in America. Moreover, it will lead a discussion about the characteristics of education system in America in the era of pragmatism.

The influences of pragmatism changed the point of view of school in America. Before this ism emerged, school is a place to get an education and knowledge as a preparation to face the real life. Moreover, education only stressed in theory but not in practice. That is why the education became monotonous thing for student. As a proved is the paragraph below:

The traditional curriculum, loaded down with formal subjects, was unsuited to the childs active and immediate experience. Dewey saw children as alienated

American Thought Pragmatism and Education in America

from their academic work because of a contradiction between the interests of the school and the real interests of the students (http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Younkins/Deweys_Pragmatism_and_


After the pragmatism era, the point of view about school change into a place of life which theory must be studied practically to know it is true or not. School also reform to be more suitable for students interest. Thus, we can say that some theory in the past may cannot work because of the different era .As an example, planet Pluto is exist in our galaxy in the past ,but today planet Pluto was not exist in our galaxy. This paragraph below can convince my statement:

As a theory of mutable truth, pragmatism claims that ideas are true insofar as they are useful in a specific situation -- what works today in one case may not work tomorrow in another case. The standard of moral truth is expediency.

(http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Younkins/Deweys_Pragmatism_and_t he_Decline_of_Education.shtml)

Nowadays, the aim for education is to teach children to be comfortable in their school or colleges. The school is both a part of this environment and a special constructive environment designed to provide the best possible experience to the student. The use of laboratory also make the student have a good research, so the reason why many Americans have great inventions in science.

For Dewey the school is the basic instrument for social reform. It is there that American children must learn the techniques of intelligent social planning that they will apply to the problems of real life. The methods of scientific investigation are to be applied to a never ending cooperative effort to bring about the good (not the perfect) society.(Horton, 1967: 174)

American Thought Pragmatism and Education in America

This ism believes that not all children learn the same way, so it is important to make various educational methods. This ism also supports some Medias to studying in the class, for example: a nice decorated classroom, a good multimedia, a small desk, and a good laboratory. The classroom would be a functional atmosphere for children. In fact, problems solving, themes, experiments are all parts of the pragmatism. The interest of American to this ism made the changes of education system in America. The students always make a lively discussion, and the teacher can make a good standard to control the discussion, then through the discussion students can be easily understand because they use their critical thinking. Moreover, the other characteristic of education in America is a competitive system (Stevenson, 1998: 56). The competitive system declared by Dewey is due to the influence of Darwinism (the philosophy which emerged before pragmatism). Dewey believed that every organism strives continuously with their environment and develops their needs which will help them to maintain their life (Solihin, 2007: 322). This paragraph below shows about how competitive is education in America: While the American Education system might put off selecting students until
much later than do other systems, it does nonetheless select. And it becomes increasingly selective the higher level. Moreover, because each university generally sets its own admission standards, the best universities are also the most difficult to get into.(Stevenson, 1998:56)

In addition, the changes of education sytem from theory into practice effect many aspects of American life.The citizen in America are also very plural ,so the method of practical and competitive can increasing the standard of ability of the students in America.

American Thought Pragmatism and Education in America

As a conclusion, the pragmatism as an original philosophy from America gives a great influence to the American education. Moreover, the pragmatists (especially John Dewey) makes America has a good education system. The development of the society and environment which are not constant become the reason why pragmatism is flourished very well in America. Moreover, I feel that this philosophy best describes American teaching style. This philosophy also makes the students in America more competitive in the schools or colleges. At least method of practical education system can increase the standard of ability of the students in America.

Horton, R. W., & Ewards, H. W. (1967). Background of American literary Thought .London: Prentice Hall International, Inc. Stevenson, Douglas K. (1998). American Life and Institutions.Washington D.C: U.S.Information Agency Solihin , M (2007). Perkembangan Pemikiran Filsafat Klasik Hingga Modern. Bandung: CV PUSTAKA SETIA HICKMAN, LARRY A. (2004). PRAGMATISM, POSTMODERNISM, AND GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP. Oxford: Metaphilosophy LLC and Blackwell Publishing

http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Younkins/Deweys_Pragmatism_and_the_Decl ine_of_Education.shtml