An Overburdened Term: Dewey's Concept of "Experience" as Curriculum Theory

Education and Culture 27 (1):5-25 (2011)

Abstract

From the start, John Dewey's ideas about education have been prone to misunderstanding. One of the greatest casualties has been "experience," a term so routinely misappropriated that Dewey ultimately decided to abandon it. He wrote, "I would abandon the term 'experience' because of my growing realization that the historical obstacles which prevented understanding of my use of 'experience' are, for all practical purposes, insurmountable. I would substitute the term 'culture' because with its meanings as now firmly established it can fully and freely carry my philosophy of experience" (1981, p. 361). Dewey evidently recognized that a main challenge to understanding experience was the conceptual weight the term had ..

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Peter Nelsen
Appalachian State University

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