Dewey Versus Erikson Comparison and Contrast Paper
Dewey versus Erikson Comparison and Contrast Paper
John Dewey focuses on what he considers as the audacity of imagination being one of the most vocal theorists on education and the related policies. He defines education as a process of instruction, whereby it is unified by encouraging good. His theory of inquiry concentrates on the evolution of the human race with respect to their surroundings. In addition, Dewy adopted the theory of evolution initiated by Charles Darwin. Hence he is of the view that organisms in respect to their surroundings evolve due to the need to survive since their natural environments determine the causes of action as well as the behavior.
Dewey used what is considered as pragmatism, whereby the students are expected to learn from “hands on approach” (Dewey, 1966). This is executed by individual experiences in the classrooms as well as in non-classroom settings. He believed that students are tasked with learning for the individual process, as life is the best learning process and environment for accruing essential knowledge. In addition, he believed that education could be attained through psychology, which was a good basis for learning and accrual of an excellent education. Dewey distinguishes three phases of education and learning processes. He identifies that the process of learning is instigated by what is considered as a “problematic situation” (Dewey, 1966). This situation is defined by an individual who has instinctive or habitual responses as a part of the human cognitive functions, which are in conformity to the surroundings of the individual. Such responses to the environment are inadequate for the sole purpose of satisfaction of the needs and desires of and individual, resulting in an ongoing process of pursuit for fulfillment of such needs.
According to Dewy, the problematic situation, which is coupled with uncertainty, is not inherent to the cognitive process but is existential and practical. Thus, the cognitive process plays a significant role in the learning process and judgment. Learning is a social activity, which is not confined to the classroom. Hence, Dewey’s view is that education or the learning process for students should not be restricted to the classroom but should include non-classroom activities, which will enable students to achieve education about life (Dewey, 1966).
Dewey is of the opinion that no one can predict future events and happenings in terms of education with precision. He considers that it is impossible for teachers or instructors to prepare students for definite conditions in the world through knowledge and education. That is why teachers should focus on giving the students the ability of “command for self” (Dewey, 1966). These are the needed skills for self-determination irrespective of the future conditions, which are unknown. Teachers are tasked with imparting knowledge and skill to the students to enable them to have capacities for sustenance. After attainment of such knowledge and skills, a student has tools such as sight and hearing and other medium, which would enable to fathom the conditions present and thus to use the skills and knowledge attained for individual progress as well as survival.
A good model for instruction should prepare students to meet the society and life in general in non-classroom settings. It should provide true societal interactions among the students. This is because societal interactions are inherently the mediums of execution of work and the effective use of technological tools for communication as well as additional learning in the societal context. He addresses technology as an elaborate means of living as well as a medium for facilitating education. He defines technology, as “technology is understood as the intelligent production of new tools”; hence technology is an essential tool for communication as well a tool for the learning processes (Dewey, 1966).
Dewey emphasizes that the processes of learning should not be restricted “subject” matter or topics, the memorization and regurgitation of facts and other information learnt within the classroom setting (Dewey, 1966). Instructional processes should be based on real world applications. Such created motivation on the part of the students makes them enthusiastic in learning and gaining knowledge and skills for application in their daily non-classroom settings. Dewey considers that necessary processes of learning should connect the skills and material learnt and their relation to the real world and society.
In addition, the attained real world skills should be embedded in the classroom learning with the aim of psychologizing the instructions attained from either the classroom or non-classroom settings. Information presented in relation to the general interest of the students is crucial enabling them to associate what they learn in the classroom setting and actualize such knowledge and skills in the society and real life settings. Psychological tuning of the learning process ensures cultivation of interest as well as accrues new skills and knowledge to the students.
Dewey adds that “When the subject matter has been psychologized, that is, viewed as an outgrowth of present tendencies and activities, it is easy to locate in the present some obstacle, intellectual, practical, or ethical, which can be handled more adequately if the truth in question is mastered. This need supplies motive for the learning” (Dewey, 1966). This statement provides an elaborate position that he values the ability to incorporate social skills in education. Education is a platform for him, which enables a student to attain individual goals. In addition, it should enable an individual to sustain himself or herself irrespective of any form of changes in society. As his theory is an incorporation of the Darwinian theory of evolution, it focuses on the presence of changes in society. Such changes should be reflected by the skills attained in the classroom, which are applicable in society for sustenance of an individual.
On the other hand, the theorist named Erik Erikson was a vocal theorist in the development of the developmental theory as it is related to education. Erikson was of the view that all individuals were susceptible to experiences of “conflicts” in their lives, whereby such conflicts could be resolved in the eight steps of development, which he provided (Mooney, 2000). His stages of development consist of trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs, shame & doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair (Mooney, 2000).
In his theory of psychosocial development, Erikson focuses on the development of the ego identity. This is described as the conscious sense of an individual that is developed through social interactions. The ego identity described by Erikson is under constant and gradual changes, all of which are determined by new encounters and the knowledge one gains from societal interactions. There is also a need for individuals to develop competency in areas of their lives. Such a need for competency motivates the behavior and determines individual’s actions while interacting with the society. Ego development requires skillful management to result in a sense of satisfaction and ego mastery, whereas poor management of the same results in a sense of inadequacy or dissatisfaction (Dewey, 1909).
All of the identified stages are used to form the stage of birth of an individual until eventual demise of an individual. The stage which individual begins the learning process with is the initiative versus the guilt phase, which comprises of individuals mainly at the age bracket of four and five years. Children who fall under this age bracket and stage initiate their power and control in their lives and the world through social interactions (Mooney, 2000). This is a delicate and vital stage of development, as children under this stage begin to assert power and control in the world by taking individual initiatives through planning for their activities, accomplishment of tasks through facing of challenges. Hence, caregivers and teachers ensure at this stage that the children are encouraged to make individual explorations in the society as well as in execution of set goals and tasks (Mooney, 2000). Dismissive behavior encourages lack of self-determination and over-reliance on others for making decisions. Encouragement from teachers and caregivers facilitates the development of creativity and is of great importance for the children under this developmental stage. Children have individual initiatives, which need reinforcement through encouragement for development of independence and imagination in their social interactions a well as in playing (Mooney, 2000).
The fourth stage of development is defined as industry and inferiority stage, which consists of individuals of the ages 6-11. Rules usually take a pivotal role in adolescents and individuals who fall under this age bracket. The fifth stage of development is described as the identity versus role diffusion (Mooney, 2000). Students at this age bracket are self-conscious of their identities, as they rely on their interactions with their peers to evaluate themselves. They are able to give recognition of the cultural and societal differences as well as individual differences between people. Erickson adds that students at this age bracket usually need encouragement for their individual accomplishments in tasks; thus, they are able to demonstrate due diligence in the conduct of other or similar tasks without the need for supervision from their instructors. As they further develop in their education, they are rare able to realize their full potentials as well as identify their individual talents (Mooney, 2000).
In the fifth stage of development, an individual is faced with the tasks and need to develop individual identities as well as to understand self. Individuals in this group usually focus on their image to others and especially to their peers. Individuals in this group are usually faced with an identity crisis, as they have conflicts in terms of their aspirations for self and their real selves.
Erickson’s theory is an attempt to exemplify the changes that take place in social relationships as well as in self-understanding by an individual. In essence, he seeks to elaborate the social relationships and self-understanding and their respective changes through descriptions provided in physiological, psychological, biological and societal development and the subsequent connection to individual’s relationships with the society. Besides, he includes three main elements in the eight developmental stages identified: significance of relationships with the society, psychosocial crises, and potency to result in negative or positive outcomes.
Erikson emphasizes on the need for teachers to encourage student development through appreciation in the various activities. This is essential in relation to the individual and his social relations, as it enables independence in terms of thinking of new ways to execute tasks. Teachers of students or children in preschools should give them a great degree of individual freedom to explore the world as well as to execute tasks in their own ways. This encourages individuality as well as imagination and creativity. The importance of education is the ability to make individual decisions without reliance or support from other sources (Mooney, 2000).
The two theorists believe that education should enable social interactions for the students. In addition, the learning process is incomplete if knowledge and information gained from the learning process is inapplicable in the outside world in real situations. In essence, the two theorists focus on social interactions as the best gift from the learning process. The tow individuals also focus on the presence of developmental stages as an integral part in the learning process of a student.
In conclusion, the two theorists provide succinct and elaborate theories and their significance in the development of an individual. Dewey states that it is important to ensure that classroom teachings are compatible for application in the society and enable an individual to attain independence and self-sustenance. On the other hand, Erikson presents the need for teachers and caregivers to provide preschool children with the much-needed independence in the execution of individual tasks. This is critical, as it provides the children with the chance for exploration and discovery of individual talents as well as development of healthy social relation skills. Hence, he emphasizes on the need to provide independence to attain good social education as well as classroom education (Kincheloe & Horn, 2007).
Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Free Press
Dewey, J. (1909). Moral principles in education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
Kincheloe, J. L., & Horn, R. A. (2007). The Praeger handbook of education and psychology. Westport, Conn: Praeger.