John Dewey

John Dewey By Sultan Muhammad

Dewey was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educationist, whose thoughts and ideas have been greatly influential not only in the United State but also around the world He was a great writer and had a career over 65 years (1859 – 1952).

John Dewey, a philosopher of the early nineteenth century and a major figure in American intellectual and educational history, today educationist gives importance to his thoughts on education and acknowledged him on a world scale as a spokesman for mankind.

Dewey's work spread on multiple subject and areas that included psychology, philosophy, education, social thought and politics. According to Pam Ecker during the celebration of his 90th birthday, in 1949, Dewey described his life’s goals as the quest to obtain a clear moderately and distinct idea of what are the problems that underlie the difficulties and evils which we experience in fact. Key element of his philosophical concept is Pragmatism, which Dewey explains in his writings. Dewey was also consider an expert in the field of educational Philosophy in American, with special emphasis on what is generally called "progressive education."
Dewey start his work in the late Eighties and accomplish forty (40) books and over 700 articles and in addition to countless lectures, letters, and other published works which play an influential role in many fields of human education.

John Dewey was born on 20 October 1859, in Burlington, Vermont. His father was a grocer in Burlington after leaving the tradition of farming of his three generations. His mother, Lucina, was also from a farming family. Later on his father sold his grocery business and volunteered to join the Union Army during the Civil War, but after the war he became the owner of a tobacco shop.
John grew up in a middle-class household in a community that included old Americans tradition as well as new immigrants from around the world. Lucina Dewey was involve in social work with poor families in Burlington and at his mother's request Dewey also joined the First Congregational Church at age of eleven year,
Dewey completed his school education at the age of 15. He attends the University of Vermont, in 1875, when he was 16 years old. The curriculum of university was similar to Dewey's high school, emphasizing on Greek, Latin languages and English literature.
He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1879. Through a relative, he became a teacher in a high school in Oil City, Pennsylvania.
Later on he enters in Johns Hopkins University for graduate studies in philosophy.
Dewey's dissertation, "The Psychology of Kant," was completed in 1884. This manuscript was never published. However, in an article of Dewey titled "Kant and Philosophic Method," cover some of the material of the dissertation is available which Published at that time.
After the completion of Ph.D., Dewey became an instructor of philosophy at Michigan.
Dewey taught a variety of courses in department and wrote a number of articles at that time, which highlight him in the scholarly community. In those articles Dewey express his views about philosophy and psychology and their relationship. He called philosophy an expanded or more comprehensive shape of psychology.
Dewey's published his first book”Psychology”, the book was respected by the scholars and adopted by several universities as a textbook. University of Minnesota offer Dewey to join the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Dewey accepted the offer and became a Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy in 1888.later on he return to his mother university Michigan in 1889 to serve as Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Dewey remained there at Michigan university until 1894, after that he joined at the request of William Rainey Harper the faculty at the University of Chicago. Chicago University was offering graduate research and scholarship to students and expected from faculty members to publish outstanding scholarly work and show excellence in teaching as well. The intention of Dewey's department was to bring together philosophy and psychology and the study of pedagogy with special focus on the relationships between elementary and secondary school teachers.
Dewey established pedagogy as a separate department with the endorsement of Harper to train its students to be specialists in education.
After 1890's, Dewey diverts his energies in developing the curriculum for the Department of Pedagogy. In 1896, the department's experimental school was converted to the Department of Education. Dewey's writing about education acknowledged him the leader in American educational philosophy. He was also recognized as pragmatism.
He resigned from his position in 1904 due to political reasons. Later on he was offered by the Columbia University, he accept the offer and joined the Columbia University. Dewey spent 26 years in Columbia University and ends his teaching career by 1939.
He completes his most important work in philosophy and education there in Columbia University. Dewey continued his writing about intellectual and social issues till his death on June 1, 1952. University of Southern Illinois as a dedication to Dewey, established The Center for Dewey Studies to explore the significance of Dewey's work. A sound clip of John Dewey is also available on the Center's Web site.
Dewey and Education
October 20, 1959 is the one-hundredth anniversary of John Dewey’s birthday. He was a dominant figure in American education. Dewey will be remembered for his great educational reforms than for his instrumentalist philosophy. He reshape the educational system which effect the whole world not just America.
He especially emphases on the child education and introduce ideas for children education, First started by Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel and by kindred reformers in the United States.
This movement of reform in child education must be seen in the historical context. They are the weakest, most dependent and defenceless population of the society.
Society may ignore the rights and satisfaction to the physical, educational needs of the young and children, Children couldn’t conduct organized struggle for the improvements in their conditions and improvement in Education system. They can protest individually but nobody care to see their problems. Therefore it is necessary to understand them and solve their problems, they must be helped by adults who are sensitive about them and see for a remedy for their troubles.
This new thinking create aware ness among adults to seek new ways of satisfying the new demands of the children and their education. The problem of this readjustment of the child according to the child’s social status motivates the adult to experiment the new ways of education for the children live in different environment. Conditioning and regulating the relations between different sexes, rich and poor, the upper and lower classes. These are the bases which determine the characteristics of the educational system and children trained under it.
Dewey’s theories bring attention to the child as an individual with rights and to an outdated and class-distorted educational system inherited from the past, need urgent review and the requirements of the new era.
According to dewey The educational system had to be thoroughly overhauled to remove the problems, he see the old system of education as the path of destruction which weakened the influence of religion.
In the city schools the training of children became one-sided and distorted due to intellectual activities were disconnected from practical and everyday occupations according to Dewey.
The grammar school Established in the eighteenth century when it was felt that boys should have the minimum ability to read, write and calculate. Later on kindergarten was added due to the arising needs from the break-up of the family and the home by the industrial revolution.
Dewey sought to apply pattern and the principles and the practices of democracy, as he interpreted them, consistently throughout his life in the educational system. First of all the school would be available freely to all children from kindergarten to college. Second, the children would carry on the educational process, aided and guided by their teachers. Third, they would be trained to behave cooperatively and take cares each other. In this way the difference between the old education and new conditions of life would be overcome.
This new school system that foresee by Dewey was to take over the functions and compensate for the losses sustained by the old crumbling institutions. The family, church and the town. “The school”, Must be made a social center for the child in which he participate in the daily life of the community.
Therefore he stress on the need of manual training, art, science, and other similar subjects and given them priority over arithmetic, reading, writing and traditional education in the primary curriculum, this would help child’s motor powers in constructive work and lead him naturally.
Dewey stated that child involvement in activities should take first place in the primary education; Dewey aimed to the early specialized training or technical education in the public schools which was established not by individual needs or for the growing youth, but by external interests.
The question of how soon the vocational training should be started for children had been under debate in the educational circles since the days of Benjamin Franklin. During the nineteenth century private business colleges were set up in the cities to teach the students mathematics and bookkeeping later on stenography was added. Later on Mechanicals institutes were established on the demand of skilled manpower for industry.
Again these demands of capitalist invaded the school system produce labour for the industry and ignore the place of the child in Education. Dewey and his follower co-educator, Francis Parker, rejected this commercial-minded approach to elementary education. They opposed the slotting of children prematurely into grooves of capitalist manufactures. They think the business of education is business not education and it is only for the sake of business.
The kindergarten system was the first intentional efforts to adopt the methods of instruction for a particular age group which they could understand. Later on Dewey extended this approach from the pre-school age to the primary and secondary school. In Each grade the child must be the centered of education, “The actual interests of the child must be discovered if the significance and worth of his life is to be taken into account and full development achieved. Each subject must fulfil present needs of growing children . . . The business of education is not, for the presumable usefulness of his future, to rob the child of the intrinsic joy of childhood involved in living each single day,” he insisted.
Dewey said Child must not be treated as adults or as means for adult needs. Children had their own rights. Childhood is a period of enjoyment of life for children. This right of childhood should not be sacrificed for the needs of adults or adulthood or for the name of personality development.
A ready made curriculum could not induce desirable Social qualities in the child, they could be only easily and fully developed by guiding their normal motor activities, with the interest and outgoing energies of the child
The child learns better from direct personal experience. Therefore in the primary stage of education it should be mainly activities base that provide experience. This is the duty of school to give children, not only an insight into the social importance of such activities, but also the opportunities to practice in real life in the form of games or any other activity base task, which leads naturally into the problem solving or “project method” Dewey aimed to integrate the school with the society, and integrate the processes of learning with problems of real life situation. His school system would be open to all people with out any restrictions of color or race and completely free. Arrange group activity under the direction children of their own.
This type of education would have the most beneficial social consequences in the life of child. It would reduce the unjust and prejudices toward children. It would develop confidence in children and the qualities and capacities required to cope with the real life problems. It would help to produce a member society with a balanced personality and a critical minded individual.
Later on the Progressive Education Association, inspired by Dewey’s philosophy codified his doctrines as follows:
1. The conduct of the pupils shall be governed by themselves, according to the social needs of the community.
2. Interest shall be the main motive for education.
3. Teachers will inspire and serve as guides in the investigations process undertaken by the children; he will be not a task-master.
4. A complete record of scientific study of each pupil’s development etc physical, mental, spiritual and social, it is essential for the intelligent direction of the development of the child.
5. Attention will be paid to the child’s physical needs, with the greater use of out doors activities.
6. A greater Cooperation between school and home to fill the needs of the child’s development.
Dewey's educational theories were presented in
1. My Pedagogic Creed (1897)
2. The School and Society (1900),
3. The Child and Curriculum (1902),
4. Democracy and Education (1916)
5. Experience and Education (1938).
Dewey and functional psychology

At University of Michigan, Dewey published his first two books on psychology.
1. Psychology (1887),
2. Leibniz's New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding (1888)
Pragmatism and Instrumentalism

Although Dewey did not identify himself as a pragmatist but he is considered one of the most important part of the three central figures in American pragmatism. Dewey called him self,Instrumentalism.
List of publications by John Dewey

The full collection of his writings, making up 37 volumes
1. The Early Works, 1882-1898 - 5 volumes
The Middle Works, 1899-1924 - 15 volumes;
The Later Works - 17 volumes.

Psychology (1887)
Leibniz's New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding (1888)
The School and Society (1900)
The Child and the Curriculum (1902)
Moral Principles in Education (1909) The Riverside Press Cambridge Project Guntenberg
How We Think (1910)
Democracy and Education: an Intorducation to the Philosophy of education (1916)
Reconstruction in Philosophy (1919)
Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology
Experience and Nature (1925)
The Public and its Problems (1927)
The Quest for Certainty (1929)
Individualism Old and New(1930)
Philosophy and Civilization (1931)
Ethics, second edition (with James Hayden Tufts) (1932)
Art asEWxperience (1934)
A Common Faith (1934)
Liberalism and Social Action (1935)
Experience and Education (1938)
Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938)
Freedom and Culture (1939)
Knowing and the Known (1949) (with Arthur Bentley)

"The New Psychology" Andover Review, 2, 278-289 (1884)
"The Ego as Cause" Philosophical Review, 3,337-341. (1894)
"The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism"] (1905)


L. Gordon, Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era (1990)
K. Jervis and C. Montag, ed., Progressive Education for the 1990s (1991)
H. Rugg and A. Shumaker, The Child-Centered School (1928, repr. 1969)
P. A. Graham, Progressive Education from Arcady to Academe (1967)

Similar Videos