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Learning by doing refers to a theory of education. This theory has been expounded by American philosopher John Dewey and Latinamerican pedagogue Paulo Freire. It's a hands-on approach to learning, meaning students must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn.[1] Freire highlighted the important role of the individual development seeking to generate awareness and nurture critical skills.[2] Dewey implemented this idea by setting up the University of Chicago Laboratory School.[3] His views have been important in establishing practices of progressive education. For instance, the learn-by-doing theory was adopted by Richard DuFour and applied to the development of professional learning communities.[4]

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."

— Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics By Aristotle)

"I believe that the school must represent present life-life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground."

— John Dewey (My Pedagogic Creed)

"… The teachers were to present real-life problems to the children and then guide the students to solve the problem by providing them with a hands-on activity to learn the solution ... Cooking and sewing were to be taught at school and be a routine. Reading, writing, and math were to be taught in the daily course of these routines. Building, cooking, and sewing had these schooling components in it and these activities also represented everyday life for the students."[5]

— Peggy Hickman

Dewey expanded upon these principles in Democracy and Education.

The phrase "Learn by Doing" is the motto and instructional pedagogy of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Dewey on Education: Impact & Theory". Study.com. March 23, 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  2. ^ Freire, Paulo (1982). Creating Alternative Research Methods: Learning to Do It by Doing It. Toronto: In Hall, B., Gillette, A. & Tandon, R. (eds.) Creating Knowledge: A Monopoly? Participatory Research in Development. Participatory Research Network, Toronto. pp. 29–37.
  3. ^ a b c d "D is for John Dewey: His Approach To Education".
  4. ^ DuFour, Richard; Rebecca DuFour; Robert Eaker; Thomas W. Many; Mike Mattos (2016). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (Third ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
  5. ^ "D is for John Dewey: His Approach To Education". The Positive Encourager.