Philosopher of the Week. Dec. 2nd, 2002.

John Dewey

The Kids Philosophy Slam now features a philosopher of the week. Included with this new offering is a brief biography and famous quotes of the featured philosopher, ideas for classroom discussions, and links to related philosopher sites! There will be a new philosopher of the week each and every week through March!

John Dewey (1859-1952)

Vermont, United States

John Dewey was a leader of a movement in American Philosophy called pragmatism. Pragmatists believed that ideas are only useful if they can be put into action. Dewey thought that education was the most useful place to put his ideas into practice because education shaped society and could foster "the full development of individuals as human beings."

Dewey believed that society was the sum total of the people in it, so the better educated all people were the better society would be. The problem as he saw it was that bad teaching methods caused a lot of people to waste their potential. Instead of just expecting students to parrot back facts, he thought their talents and interests should be considered.

Dewey was the head of the philosophy department at the University of Chicago where he opened an experimental school to put his theories into practice. He encouraged parents to be an active part of their children's education.

Dewey wrote two books about his theories that revolutionized teaching methods in the United States. Because of these changes, Dewey has been called the Father of Modern Education.

Classroom Discussion Questions:

How would John Dewey have answered the question, what is the meaning of life?

What did Dewey think would make people and society good?

What was school like before Dewey? (Ask your grandparents and great grandparents, if possible)

What are some things that you do in school that were changed because of Dewey and his theories?

To learn more about John Dewey, follow these links:




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