Journal of East China Normal University(Educationa ›› 2019, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (2): 45-52.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2019.02.005

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John Dewey and Confucius in Dialogue: 1919-2019

Leonard Waks   

  1. School of Education, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 311121, China
  • Online:2019-03-20 Published:2019-03-21

Abstract: In 1919, when Dewey arrived in China, the time was not ripe for a dialogue on equal terms between his ideas and those from Confucian tradition. Dewey's reputation was on the rise; Confucianism was in sharp decline. Dewey was welcomed with open arms by China's leading intellectuals, while a popular slogan of the day proclaimed " Down with Confucius!" Today, by contrast, China is a great world power, and the Confucian tradition is once again ascending. It is now time to place Dewey and Confucius in dialogue, and to investigate how each can contribute to educational revitalization. In this paper I argue that the Confucian ideal of moral self-cultivation can supplement Dewey's educational program, while Dewey's active learning strategies can fill a gap in Confucian learning in science and technology, fields that occupied Dewey in his lectures in China.

Key words: John Dewey, Confucius, self-cultivation, active learning