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John Dewey Biography (1859-1952)


John Dewey

John Dewey

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
"I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living." -John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed (1897)

John Dewey Is Best Known For:

  • Educational reform
  • Pragmatism

Birth and Death:

  • John Dewey was born October 20, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont.
  • He died June 1, 1952.


John Dewey graduated from the University of Vermont and spent three years as a high school teacher in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He then spent a year studying under the guidance of G. Stanley Hall at John Hopkins University in America's first psychology lab. After earning his Ph.D. from John Hopkins, Dewey went on to teach at the University of Michigan for nearly a decade.
In 1894, Dewey accepted a position as the chairman of the department of philosophy, psychology and pedagogy at the University of Chicago. It was at the University of Chicago that Dewey began to formalize his views that would contribute so heavily to the school of thought known as pragmatism. The central tenant of pragmatism is that the value, truth or meaning of an idea lies in its practical consequences. Dewey also helped establish the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where he was able to directly his apply his pedagogical theories.
Dewey eventually left the University of Chicago and became a professor of philosophy at Columbia University from 1904 until his retirement in 1930. In 1905, he became President of the American Psychological Association.

Contributions to Psychology:

Dewey's work had a vital influence on psychology, education and philosophy and he is often considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th-century. His emphasis on progressive education has contributed greatly to the use of experimentation rather than an authoritarian approach to knowledge. Dewey was also a prolific writer, publishing numerous books and articles on a wide range of subjects including education, art, nature, philosophy, ethics and democracy over his 65-year writing career.

Selected Publications:

  • The School and Society (1900)
  • The Child and the Curriculum (1902)
  • How We Think (1910)
  • Experience and Nature (1925)
  • Philosophy and Civilization (1931)


Dewey, J. (1897). My Pedagogic Creed. School Journal, 54, 77-80.

Hickman, P. (2000). John Dewey. Muskingum College, Department of Psychology. Found online at http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/dewey.htm

Martin, Jay. (2003). The Education of John Dewey. Columbia University Press.

Neill, J. (2005). John Dewey, the Modern Father of Experiential Education. Wilderdom.com.

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