Tag Archives: ICanTeach

John Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed”, I Can Teach

To outline Dewey’s creed and annotate as needed, so that learners are able to differentiate Dewey from other thinkers in education, and find their own affinities to him.

  1. What Education Is
    1. Participation in social consciousness of the race
    2. Stimulation of child’s powers via social situations
    3. A process that has two sides
      1. Psychological
      2. Social
    4. Demands knowledge of current social conditions
    5. Psychological and social sides are organically related
      1. Psychological alone is barren and formal
      2. Social alone is forced and external
      3. Valid objections if the sides are isolated
    6. Equipping an organic union of social individuals for social service.

With the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now.  Hence it is impossible to prepare the the child for any precise set of conditions.

  1. What the School Is
    1. Primarily a social institution
      1. Education is thus a social process
      2. Education is a process of living not preparation for future living
      3. Representation of real, vital, present life.
        1. If not, education cramps and deadens.
    2. A mode of social life, a simplification of existing social life
      1. Without simplifying student is confused or distracted
        1. Student at danger of being unduly specialized or disintegrated
      2. Simplification should grow out of home life
        1. So that child gradually learns meaning
        2. This is a psychological necessity
        3. This is a social necessity
    3. A form of community life, a form of social life
      1. Present education fails in that it neglects school as a form of community life.
      2. Moral education centers on this conception
      3. Child should be stimulated and controlled in work through life of community.
        1. Too much stimulus and control come from teacher
        2. Teacher should not impose certain idea or habits
        3. Teacher (as member of community) selects influences, and helps with proper responses
        4. Discipline should proceed from life of school not teacher
          1. Teacher helps determine how discipline comes to the child
          2. All grading and promotion decisions should reference same standard

…[Home] is the form of social life in which the child has been nurtured and in connection with which he has had his moral training. It is the business of the school to deepen and extend his sense of values bound up in his home life.

  1. The Subject-Matter of Education
    1. Should mark a gradual differentiation out of the primitive unconscious unity of social life
      1. The social life of the child is the basis of concentration or correlation in all training and growth
      2. The social life gives the unconscious unity and the background of all his attainments
    2. Should not be abruptly too many special studies
      1. this violates childs nature
      2. renders difficult the best ethical results
      3. are often out of relation to the social life
    3. Should center on the child’s own social activities
      1. Not science, literature, history, geography
      2. [incomplete]


  1. The Nature of Method
    1. [incomplete]
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  1. The School and Social Progress
    1. Education is social progress and reform
      1. following reforms are transitory and futile
        1. those which rest on enactment of law
        2. those which rest on threatening penalties
        3. those which rest on mechanical changes
        4. those which rest on outward arrangements
      2. is adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness
      3. this conception recognizes
        1. individualistic ideals
        2. socialistic ideals
        3. The ideal school reconciles individualistic and institutional ideas
    2. The community’s duty to education is its paramount moral duty
      1. through education a society
        1. formulates its own purposes
        2. organizes its own means and resources
        3. shapes itself with definiteness
        4. determines its directions
      2. if society recognizes possibilities and obligations here, time, attention, money will be provided the educator
      3. Everyone interested in education should make school primary and work to get equipment to educators
    3. Education thus conceived is perfect union of science and art
      1. Art that gives shape to human powers and adapts them to social service is supreme 
      2. Growth of psychological service all scientific resources can be utilized for education
      3. When science and art join hands
        1. most commanding motive for human action will be reached
        2. most genuine springs of human conduct aroused
        3. best service that human nature is capable of guaranteed.
    4. Teacher is engaged not only in training individuals, but also formation of proper social life
      1. They have dignity in this calling, set apart for
        1. maintenance of proper social order
        2. security the right social growth
      2. And a prophet of the true God and usher of kingdom of God.

Defined: “I Can Teach”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Ellis & Denton (2010) describe outcomes for this strategy.

I Can Teach is designed to empower students with the thought that knowledge is something you use, not just something you keep in the storehouse of the mind until examination time.  This strategy asks students to cross a threshold from learning as something only for oneself to learning as something you pass along to others.  Learning is transformed from acquisition to performance.  You know the pleasure of helping people learn.  It is time to share that pleasure with your students.  Use it or lose it. (p. 80)

Practically, the techniques used in this strategy involve getting students as learners to turn around and become teachers to those who do not understand.  Each student can also be asked to share what they have learned in an instructional way with siblings or parents.  The authors even suggest that a broader learning community within the school can develop if I Can Teach is done across grade levels, classrooms, or even outside of normal class times (peer-mentor or mentor-mentee).

Allowing time to reflect on the effectiveness of the “teacher” is a part of this strategy that helps further enhance the impact of this exercise.  Teachers can thus model some of their own openness to improving and refining their own instructional techniques—a virtuous cycle.

Finally the authors warn that getting started on this strategy may be hard, so an exercise brainstorming the similarities and differences for the concepts to be taught may be used.


Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

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