John Dewey was a leading scholar in the American philosophical school of pragmatism. This isn’t the same pragmatism spoken of by politicians, but is instead a rejection of the notion that thought is meant mainly to describe or mirror reality. It could be described as a realist point of view — essentially, it claims that most philosophical topics should be viewed in terms of their usefulness, as opposed to purely on their representative accuracy.
Although he made contributions to philosophy and psychology, perhaps Dewey’s greatest impact was as an educational reformer. In Dewey’s view, it’s vital that classroom activities focus on meaningful activity in place of rote learning. Students should be invested in what they are learning and the curriculum should seem relevant to their lives. He viewed learning by doing to be an important factor missing from American education.
Interesting Facts About John Dewey
- During the first half of the twentieth century, John Dewey was one of America’s most famous teachers of philosophy (the study of the universe and man’s place in it). He also made some controversial suggestions for changes in the American educational system.
- Boyhood jobs delivering newspapers and working at a lumber-yard added to his knowledge. While visiting his father, who served in the Union Army in Virginia, he viewed the horror of the Civil War (1861–1865) firsthand.
- At the age of fifteen, Dewey, after receiving average grades in Vermont public schools, entered the University of Vermont. His best grades were in science, which he would later regard as the highest expression of human intellect.
- Dewey decided to pursue a career in philosophy and applied for admission to the newly founded Johns Hopkins University, which also attracted and employed lay philosophers. In 1884 Dewey completed his doctorate and, at Morris’s invitation, he went to teach at Michigan.
Quotes By John Dewey
- Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
- Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
- Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
- Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.
- To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
- The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.
- We only think when we are confronted with problems.
- The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative.
- The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.
- To me faith means not worrying.