1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Dewey II

I remember a talk that Lorenzo Albacete gave a dozen years ago in Denver. At one point he said something like this: "All of these people running around talking about their experiences, but they're not talking about ex-perience because it's all about them.... All real experiences come from the outside, not our own subjectivity."

For some reason I recalled Albacete's remarks in my reading of Dewey. I'm now delving into chapter two of Experience and Education and I'm finding that Dewey seems to suggest something erroneous about what experience is and how it can be communicated. But first, something positive about Dewey (lest I never get there!):

The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative (25).

Again, experiences may be so disconnected from one another that, while each is agreeable or even exciting in itself, they are not linked cumulatively to one another. Engergy is then dissipated and a person becomes scatterbrained (26).
Just so. An experience is not merely a "something" that happens, for then we would talk about the experiences of monkeys and lions; rather, an experience requires a something, an event, but also reflection and an understanding of what the event means. Otherwise it's just one damn thing after another.

Next time I'll pick up on where I think Dewey goes off the rails with his understanding of what experience is, how it can be (or cannot be) communicated, and its telos.

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