John Dewey and Lev Vygotsky

JOHN DEWEY, a believer in what he called "the audacity of imagination," was one of the first national figures in education policy. He rejected the notion that schools should focus on repetitive, rote memorization. Instead he proposed a method of "directed living" in which students would engage in real-world, practical workshops in which they would demonstrate their knowledge through creativity and collaboration. Students should be provided with opportunities to think from themselves and articulate their thoughts. As Dewey writes in his landmark Democracy and Education:

Processes of instruction are unified in the degree in which they center in the production of good habits of thinking. While we may speak, without error, of the method of thought, the important thing is that thinking is the method of an educative experience. The essentials of method are therefore identical with the essentials of reflection. They are first that the pupil have a genuine situation of experience -- that there be a continuous activity in which he is interested for its own sake; secondly, that a genuine problem develop within this situation as a stimulus to thought; third, that he possess the information and make the observations needed to deal with it; fourth, that suggested solutions occur to him which he shall be responsible for developing in an orderly way; fifth, that he have opportunity and occasion to test his ideas by application, to make their meaning clear and to discover for himself their validity. (emphasis added by author)
Lev Vygotsky pioneered research in learning sciences and made a strong argument for the need for students to demonstrate their knowledge by creating explanations and interpreting their work for others. To Vygotsky, teachers served as mediators who coached and encouraged students to formulate their own level of understanding. Each student has a base level of knowledge, but they can increase it by practicing what they know well and adding onto it. The social interaction between the student, teacher and other students reinforces their increase of knowledge.

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