John Dewey (1859-1952)
Vermont, United States
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:
If Dewey were alive today, how would he answer
the question, "Which is more powerful, love or hate?"
What did Dewey think would make people and
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