American pedagogue, participates in the American semiotic current (pragmatism) of Charles Pierce, Josiah Royce and William James in the United States, which advocated the classroom as a “miniature community”.
Dewey was also a social activist with a critical intervention that advocates education as an instrument of democratization of society. Part of a critique of traditional pedagogy, seen as reproductive of the ruling classes, arguing that education is the tool of adaptation to the modern world.
According to the foundations of his pedagogy, his “research theory” argues that changes in the environment lead each individual to adapt. Therefore research should allow each individual to experiment with various hypotheses of solution. It also assumes that each individual participates in a society, so solutions to problems must be tried out in groups. Participation in groups develops the revelation and recognition of self and other, allowing the exercise and development of democratic practices. Education plays the laboratory role of citizenship.
In his “Democracy of Education” (Democracy and Education, 1919), Dewey presents the synthesis of his pedagogical proposal, which is based on the critique of the duality between individual and society in Rosseau and Plato. If Rousseau’s pedagogy values the individual, Plato emphasizes the influence of the society to which the individual belongs. The critique of this duality is made by integrating the concepts of individual and society as a social process. The individual only materializes in society and society only materializes when its individuals realize it. It is from the interaction between individual and society that the necessary renewal of knowledge emerges.
Dewey makes a critique of traditional pedagogy, based on the transmission of knowledge as something finished, proposing the development of pedagogy that worked from useful content the lives of individuals in society as citizens.