Learning and Problemsolving: Dewey‘s Psychology in a Context of History of Education

Jürgen Oelkers


Karl Popper called one of his latest collections of essays All Life is Problem Solving. Little is known about the history of «problem solving» and also Popper did not say much about his references. But his model of four stages of problem solving is clearly anticipated in John Dewey’s psychology of thinking. On the other hand Dewey’s How we Think (1910) cannot be understood without taken into account the contemporary movement in didactics. The article discusses two of them, «nature studies» on the one hand and the «project method» on the other. «Nature studies» is considered to be the counterpoint to problem-solving. William Kilpatrick’s project method is still closely linked with Dewey’s psychology but both concepts have to be studied independently. Dewey’s theory of problem-solving is a general theory of learning that cannot be reduced to didactics. But that reduction might explain why Popper did not pay attention to it.


problemsolving; psychology of learning; history of education; project method

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14516/ete.2016.003.002.011


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