Comparing John Dewey to Robert Leamnson

           Teachers have different principles and beliefs about learning and how these aid them in their approach to teaching - Comparing John Dewey to Robert Leamnson introduction.  Studying these concepts may give teachers different strategies to facilitate their students’ learning.

This research aims to compare John Dewey’s “How We Think” to Robert Leamnson’s “Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning With First Year College and University Students”, their similarities and differences on the thought process, critical thinking, habit of thought, training of thought , their philosophy on thinking and what they believe in all of these .

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            John Dewey, known as the Father of Functional Psychology, begins his writing in the thought process, explaining how the mind works.  First, a man thinks of something, anything, then digest it in his head whether he believes on it or not.  By further thinking, his mind then is set on finding facts that will eventually support this belief.  But that is not always the case.  He explains that students mind are not properly trained to think like this so he encourages teachers to teach more by experience rather than merely spoonfeeding.  He thinks that learning should go hand in hand with the teachers teaching more by example and the students taking the initiative to learn or to think more, giving ample time for them to think on their own and come up with their own ideas.  Training of thought simply lies not only in the teacher but more on the student. He must be curious, investigating and observing into everything, “what happens if I do this…that, how does this feel, smell, taste, etc.” Then giving his own rendition or explation about what he observed, and then organizing his facts, having his ideas connected with one another.  Also the mentor must teach outside the box, expanding the student’s thinking and making use of their imagination.  So when the student is suddenly faced with a problem, he will be able to think about it, analyse the situation, experiment on different solutions and come up with a decision that is aided with facts, not just merely taking all what he is faced to and waiting for someone to do the thinking.  The important thing is that the student learns to

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see what the problem is and to be able to think possible solutions to the problem.  Speech is the only way to know that your student has learned.  The teachers role is to train the students to think clearly, searchingly and intellectually, curious about solutions to certain problems instead of simply giving them the answers to all the questions they have in mind. They need to encourage the students to think on their own and express their ideas clearly as these will be useful to them in their everyday activities.

            On the other hand, Robert Leamnson, a professor of Biology, basically presents the same principle, adding more emphasis on the teachers way of teaching, how they teach and how do their students react to their teachings. He believes that teachers should be more sensitive to what their students think and as the same time learn from them and really help them to their full capacity.  He says that learning is not an easy thing, it requires continouous hardwork from the students and dedication from the teachers.  The students should learn to communicate well and state their ideas clearly.  According to Leamson learning by repetition is vital and teachers should encourage their student to voice out their suggestions and ideas.  He believes that if a student can communicate well and expresses his self clearly then he is said to be “learned”.  Verbal and written communication is a factor of learning.  This applies not only through their studying but also as they go about their everyday lives.

            Authors Dewey and Leamnson both knew that there is an underlying problem in schools, that is the method of teaching.  Teachers are faced with difficulty in teaching students particularly in their first years.  So they both wrote a book that illustrates how the mind works and how it should be trained to its full use.  They both think that teachers should teach by example or experiment and let their students to make a reaction to it and encourage them to speak out their ideas and suggestions.  Both encouraged teaching not only inside the box but also to teach outside the box.  Imagination and invention is a great leisure for the mind, an activity that enhances the mind to think and come up with

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a sound conclusion.  But not to the point where too much imagination may make their ideas absurd or senseless.  Teaching students like they were  newborns is also a factor,  constant reminding is a factor, repetition is a very vital method.  Teaching through practice is a sure way to learn.

But both authors do not put all the responsibility of learning to the teachers.  They say that learning should be initiated by the students.  Teachers teach with their hearts and students learns with their souls.  The teachers can only do that much, the students’ will to learn is very important.  Students must feed their curiosity, be investigative of everything, come up with ideas and reactions based on their observation and openly express themselves, may it be verbal or in writing.  Both the authors believe that language or speech is a sign of being “learned”.

Learning is not a walk in the park, it requires vigilance from the one teaching and the will from the one who wants to learn.  Teachers and students must work hand in hand to achieve the same goal: to learn from each other.


Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath

Dollar, D. L. (1999, Winter). Thinking about Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning        with First Year College and University Students. Community College Review.



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