EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 7, Issue 1, 2015-2017
The Evolutionary Educator: How John Dewey Would Use Contemporary Cognitive Science to Improve Pedagogical Practice
John Dewey, widely considered America’s greatest educational theorist, has also been labeled “evolution’s first philosopher.” However, the limited research on the brain and human behavior available to Dewey prevented him from drawing on his philosophical inspiration to provide any prescriptions for pedagogical practice. The discoveries of the intervening decades in fields such as cognitive ethology, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology allow this paper to revisit Dewey’s ideas and draw conclusions about the veracity of his claims about the purposeful social transmission of information among humans. To achieve this goal, species with similar life histories to humans were identified and broken into groups that include primates, social carnivores, and cooperative breeders. Within each group, the principal mechanisms for the transmission of the various forms of knowledge identified by cognitive scientists were evaluated and compared to the pedagogical methods promoted by Dewey. Ultimately, this comparative analysis finds that a synthesis can be achieved between the evolutionary philosophy Dewey sought and the educational practices he prescribed.
How to cite this article:
Niedermeyer, J. (2015). The evolutionary educator: How John Dewey would use contemporary cognitive science to improve pedagogical practice. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 7(1), 58-87.