Date of Graduation
From an investigation of the entire published works of John Dewey, as well as much of his personal correspondence, this dissertation described and analyzed Dewey's concept of the child. It was discovered that Dewey's concept evolved through interactions with his family and, to a lesser extent, his social milieu. Despite some inconsistencies in his writings about the child, arising primarily from his attempts to persuade his audience to make societal changes benefiting the child, Dewey developed a cohesive, comprehensive concept--a concept which emphasized a view of the child as an active, growing being. Ten aspects of the child were examined to explain Dewey's view of the child. These included (1) native tendencies or impulses, instincts, and interests, (2) plasticity and habit formation, (3) powers, (4) motor activity, (5) sensation and perception, (6) emotion, (7) will and ability to choose, (8) creativity, (9) learning and knowing, and (10) intelligence. It was emphasized that the child is not a bundle of disjointed characteristics, but a unified, growing organism in interaction with the environment. Four principles of growth in the whole child were discussed, including (1) continuity, (2) self-sustaining power, (3) plurality, and (4) stages of development. Dewey conceived of each child as an individual. Thus, characteristics of development are not rigid laws to be applied uniformly to every child, but are guides to help in understanding and interacting with children. Dewey thought that children, being social animals, best develop their individuality through community participation. While similar in important respects to adults, children are not adults-in-miniature. Among differences between children and adults are the amount of past experience with which to enrich present experience, the focus of activities, responses to everyday life, the manifestation of ideas into direct action, plasticity of character, and stage of development. Dewey's concept of the child provides a basis for designing an environment which encourages healthy growth. In education, school organization, teaching methods, and curriculum development should reflect an understanding of child development. Features of a positive school environment include: (1) democratic organization, (2) a participatory, embryonic, social life, (3) opportunities for the child to experience slowness of growth, and, (4) active occupations which develop the child's sense of personal power.
Landvoigt, Charlotte Nelson, "John Dewey's Concept Of The Child." (1986). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9248.