Paradoxes & Praxis: The 21st Century Imperative for Educational Foundations

John Dewey

Why should we study Dewey and his work?

John Dewey, along with many other theorists, was one of American pragmatism's early founders. Dewey drew on a Darwinian worldview to craft his educational theories that became known to all. Dewey often referred to his pragmatism as a "cultural naturalism: which is essentially a reconstruction of philosophy. Dewey's numerous publications and forward-thinking has impacted the world of education in insurmountable ways.

1859 - Oct. 20. Born in Burlington, Vermont
1879 - Receives A.B. from the University of Vermont
1879–81 - Teaches at high school in Oil City, Pennsylvania
1881–82 - Teaches at Lake View Seminary, Charlotte, Vermont
1882–84 - Attends graduate school at Johns Hopkins University
1884 - Receives Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University
1884 - Instructor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan
1886 - Married to Alice Chipman
1888–89 - Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota
1889 - Chair of Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan
1894 - Professor and Chair of Department of Philosophy (including psychology and pedagogy) at the University of Chicago
1897 - Elected to Board of Trustees, Hull-House Association
1899 - The School and Society
1889–1900 - President of the American Psychological Association; Studies in Logical Theory
1904 - Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University
1905–06 - President of the American Philosophical Society
1908 - Ethics
1910 - How We Think
1916 - The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy, Democracy, and Education, Essays in Experimental Logic
1919 - Lectures in Japan
1919–21 - Lectures in China
1920 - Reconstruction in Philosophy
1922 - Human Nature and Conduct
1924 - Visits schools in Turkey
1925 - Experience and Nature
1926 - Visits schools in Mexico
1927 - The Public and its Problems
1927 - Death of Alice Chipman Dewey
1928 - Visits schools in Soviet Russia
1929 - The Quest for Certainty
1930 - Individualism, Old and New
1930 - Retires from the position at Columbia University, appointed Professor Emeritus
1932 - Ethics
1934 - A Common Faith, Art as Experience
1935 - Liberalism and Social Action
1937 - Chair of the Trotsky Commission, Mexico City
1938 - Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, Experience, and Education
1939 - Freedom and Culture, Theory of Valuation
1946 - Married to Roberta (Lowitz) Grant; Knowing and the Known
1952 - June 1. Dies in New York City

Key Publications:
[ACF] 1934a, A Common Faith
[AE] 1934b, Art as Experience
[DE] 1916b, Democracy and Education
[E] 1908, Ethics, with James H. Tufts,
[E-rev] 1932, Ethics, revised edition, with James H. Tufts,
[EEL] 1916c, “Introduction” to Essays in Experimental Logic
[EN] 1925a, Experience and Nature
[FAE] 1930a, “From Absolutism to Experimentalism”
[H&A] 1998, The Essential Dewey
[HNC] 1922a, Human Nature and Conduct
[HWT] 1910c, How We Think
[ION] 1930f, Individualism, Old and New
[LSA] 1935, Liberalism and Social Action
[LTI] 1938c, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry
[PIE] 1905, “The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism”
[PP] 1927b, The Public and Its Problems
[QC] 1929, The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action
[RAC] 1896, “The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology”
[RIP] 1920, Reconstruction in Philosophy
[TIF] 1930d, “Three Independent Factors in Morals”
[TV] 1939e, Theory of Valuation

Contribution to Curriculum
In Dewey’s years as a student, he wrestled with theoretical ideologies of how the world was at its fundamental core. In his attempt to answer the question, Dewey aimed to create "new psychology". Dewey broke down the constructs of philosophy and psychology to reveal the dimensions of experience- practical, imaginative, bodily, and physical. Dewey went on to develop his ideas at multiple universities, including the University of Michigan and Minnesota. Here, Dewey was influenced by his wife to shift his focus from religious orthodoxy to advocacy for women. His work during this time is referred to as "experimental idealism".

In the years to come, Dewey moved on to the University of Chicago where he was offered to lead the Philosophy Department in the collaboration of Psychology and Pedagogy. While in Chicago, Dewey became interested in social and political issues while working closely with Jane Addams’ Hull House. Hull House developed and broadened Dewey’s ideals on democracy, education, and philosophy.

Dewey eventually ended up at Columbia University where he produced books, organized unions, and spoke out on political and societal concerns. Dewey's academic and personal experiences shaped his thinking and reconceptualization of psychology and curriculum. He contended that the mind is not subjective and isolated, but social and interactive, as he had witnessed in his own life. The mind is made through natural and cultural environments. Dewey went on to explain concepts like instincts/impulses, perception/sensation, acts/habits, emotion, sentiency, mind, consciousness, metaphysics, experience, inquiry and knowledge, and so on. Often, you cannot read an academic article or curriculum textbook without some mention of John Dewey. His comprehensive work changed education, psychology, and more.

Hildebrand, D. (2018, November 01). John Dewey. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from

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