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By Anton Widyanto

I would like to assert that all humans are creatures that have experiences. I also will say that all students are human. From these two claims, then I conclude that students are creatures that have experiences. Based on these premises and a conclusion, in this short paper I will discuss Dewey’s thought on how students’ experiences must be noticed in teaching learning processes.

What I mean by human that I stated above is people aged 0 to death, and what I mean by experience is the knowledge and insights that a human gets from his/her environment.
Much evidence supports the claim that every human has experiences, even since a baby. A baby will learn to like or to hate something after he/she comes in contact with it. For example, when a baby touches fire for the first time, he/she will learn from that and conclude by him/herself that fire is something that should not be touched. When a baby grows older, he/she will still continue to learn from experience he gets from his/her environment. If he/she lives in a family that loves music, it will teach him/her at least to know songs; if he/she lives in an environment whereby many people around are like to use drugs, it will potentially influence him/her too. Hence, it can be understood here that experience could be educative for some instances and could be miss educative for another.
There is also evidence to support the claim that students are human. As a basic understanding of human nature that differs them from animals is that they have rationale. They can build any civilizations to live in this earth because of it. Hence it can be concluded that only humans can be students.
As I have explained above that “all human are creatures that have experiences” and “all students are human”. Therefore it follows with a conclusion that “students are creatures that have experiences”. This conclusion maybe applicable for some educational systems, but could be problematic for some cases. It really depends on the context surrounds the system. The explanation can be as follows.
Talking about experience in a broad understanding particularly in correlation with education, Dewey (1938) says, “…a philosophy of education based upon a philosophy of experience” (Dewey, 1938, p. 19). Hence, education must put student’s experience as an important base for curriculum, teaching strategies, or student’s development.
Furthermore, Dewey (1938) explains that there are several important aspects that create experiential continuum. There is an environment which is defined as “whatever conditions interact with personal needs, desires, purposes, and capacities to create the experience which is had” (Dewey, 1938, p. 17). Then there are two factors that play significant role to influence the environment and thus form experience e.g continuity and interaction. These two aspects are running side by side and cannot be separated. They will form a situation which is also another important part of experience. Consequently, the role of teachers basically is to facilitate and empower student’s talent to be in line with his experiences for achieving his/her future goals. For that, teachers need to know who their student are, including where their homes are, what their preferences are, what their backgrounds are, etc. Knowing all of this will enable teachers to figure out how they can facilitate them to succeed in their study.
However, I think this condition will be applicable in the context of school that has no problem with the budgets or has a lot of funds. Since every teacher needs to know very well who his/her students are, there must be additional budget allocation to help him/her to do so. It includes transportation, facilities, etc, like how many times the teacher will visit his/her students, how he/she will do that, and so on. Moreover, it is also will be applicable in the context where the school has limited number of students in every class. If there are many students in a class, for example 35 or more students (like in many developing and underdeveloped countries), this will be more complicated. Teachers will be having many problems especially in terms of time.
In conclusion, the idea of progressive education stated by Dewey is important and still relevant to be implemented today. Nevertheless, it is not easy to implement in every school because it really depends on the school context and also the commitment of the stakeholders.

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