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  • Benjamin Johnson

    Benjamin Johnson asked in Applied Sciences 8th Feb '16:

    We have had the educational research showing the best practices for student learning for 20 years or more. John Dewey, for example, in 1935 proclaimed that experiential learning was the best way for students to learn. Now nearly 85 years later, we still have not adjusted the system to what we know through research to be true. How can we bridge the gap between research and practice in public education?

    Sophie Ward replied 10th Feb '16:

    It seems to me that resistance to experiential learning today is similar to the resistance encountered by Dewey: policy makers cling to the idea that education is the transmission of skills for industry and knowledge for national identity formation, and have little interest in critical analysis for democratic participation. By conducting research that demonstrates the value of critical analysis, we may add to the evidence accrued by Dewey and his contemporaries. However, we are unlikely to make progress unless we are willing to challenge the neoliberal model of democratic 'participation', which positions the majority of people as the passive recipients of social policy determined by the ‘moral reasoning’ of corporations and the elites. The decoupling of progressive education from progressive politics has cut experiential learning adrift in a sea of competing pedagogical practices, and to reanimate debate about experiential learning, we must begin by reanimating debate about the nature of democracy itself.

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