Educational Philosophies of John Dewey and Paulo Freire

Educational Philosophies of John Dewey and Paulo Freire


The impact of Paulo Freire and John Dewey in the educational context is evident and has an extensive impact on the overall process of learning. There are several differences and similarities in the educational philosophies provided by the same. The purpose of this essay is to describe the similar concepts provided by the two scholars, and differences between the same.

Similarities between the educational philosophies

One of the notable similarities in the philosophies presented by both Paulo Freire and John Dewey is that the community and the individual are inseparable concepts in the education of the person. Stanley (114) indicates that the two concepts are linked together and can be viewed as reciprocal concepts which cannot exist in isolation. Dewey depicts that the development of the mind is regarded as a communal process, thereby no separation of the individual and the community is possible in the construct of education (Kelvin 5). Similarly, Freire asserts the idea that education is regarded as a tool for social policy. The scholar argues that education can be seen as a tool for either perpetuating the society or a remedy to the inequality of the same. Hence the individual and the society in the educational context cannot be separated.

The two scholars believed that the education could be regarded as a vehicle to drive social change. Freire indicates that with the engagement of students in questions concerning the already accepted wisdom within the educational setting is essential in developing them as critical citizens, hence combating the oppression of the mind and the culture of silence (Stanley 118). Dewey also believes that proper educational systems are relevant in setting the pace for students on an equal footing, which is against the socioeconomic status of the same and hence would help develop social change.

Freire indicates that students are like empty vessels as they wait for relevant knowledge from their educators to be disseminated to them, and are to pass on the same in generations. The scholar purports that students need to have the ability to examine and critically evaluate facts and theories for proper absorption of the concepts. Similarly, Dewey shows that students need to have hands-on experience for the learning process to be efficient. The scholar suggests that the traditional model of education where the tutor stands in front of the classrooms to provide students with instructions is flawed. He supports the idea of students moving within different rooms for different subjects. It engages each of them in the process of learning and interactions.

Differences between the educational philosophies

Despite the two scholars suggesting that inquiry and questioning of the current knowledge, their approach towards the process was different. Dewey indicates that developing hypothesis from data obtained and problems defined is the most appropriate in the process of learning. However, Freire indicates that the most appropriate approach is through observation and selection of themes for discussion which help decode information and seek clarification on the same (Kelvin 8).

Dewey indicates that the school is an institution in the community where life skills and strategies are gained. He purports that the school is not only crucial for the knowledge that one gains in the course of learning, but also as a place for obtaining life skills and problem-solving techniques for real-life challenges. Freire, on the other hand, indicates that the educational system is a setting for obtaining the relevant knowledge on subjects, rather than objects of the world. As such, he argues that the schools help to engage the students on how to live with people by giving them an understanding of the subjects and how to integrate their concepts in practice.


The two scholars present proper philosophies to guide the learning process. There are similarities in their concepts, but also some differences are evident in the same.

Works Cited

Stanley. “Paulo Freire’s radical democratic humanism.” Against Orthodoxy. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2015. 113-127.

Kelvin. “John Dewey’s conception of education: Finding common ground with RS Peters and Paulo Freire.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2017: 1-10.


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