John Dewey: Life and Career as a Scholastic Philosopher and University Professor

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John Dewey was born October 20, 1859, in Burlington, Vermont. He taught at universities from 1884 to 1930. A scholastic philosopher and advocate of academic reform, in 1894 Dewey started an experimental grade school. In 1919 he cofounded The New School for Social Research. Dewey released over 1,000 pieces of writings during his lifetime. He passed away June 1, 1952, in New York City, New York Early Life

John Dewey was born upon October 20, 1859, to Archibald Dewey and Lucina Artemisia Rich in Burlington, Vermont. He was the 3rd of the couple's four boys, one of whom died as an infant.

Dewey's mother, the child of a rich farmer, was a devout Calvinist. His daddy, a merchant, left his grocery organisation to become a Union Army soldier in the Civil War. John Dewey's dad was understood to share his passion for British literature with his offspring. After the war, Archibald ended up being the owner of an effective tobacco shop, paying for the family a comfy life and financial stability.

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Teaching Profession

The autumn after Dewey finished, his cousin landed him a teaching task at a seminary in Oil City, Pennsylvania. 2 years later on, Dewey lost the position when his cousin resigned as principal of the seminary.

After being laid off, Dewey went back to Vermont and started teaching at a personal school in Vermont. Throughout his leisure time, he read philosophical writings and discussed them with his former instructor, Torrey. As his fascination with the subject grew, Dewey chose to take a break from teaching in order to study philosophy and psychology at Johns Hopkins.

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George Sylvester Morris and G. Stanley Hall were among the instructors there who affected Dewey the majority of.

Upon receiving his doctorate from Johns Hopkins in 1884, Dewey was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. At Michigan he met Harriet Alice Chipman, and the two married in 1886. Over the course of their marriage, they would give birth to six children and adopt one child. Philosophy

Dewey’s philosophical treatises were at first inspired by his reading of philosopher and psychologist William James’ writing. Dewey’s philosophy, known as experimentalism, or instrumentalism, largely centered on human experience. Rejecting the more rigid ideas of Transcendentalism to which Dewey had been exposed in academia, it viewed ideas as tools for experimenting, with the goal of improving the human experience.

Dewey’s philosophy also claimed than man behaved out of habit and that change often led to unexpected outcomes. As man struggled to understand the results of change, he was forced to think creatively in order to resume control of his shifting environment. For Dewey, thought was the means through which man came to understand and connect with the world around him. A universal education was the key to teaching people how to abandon their habits and think creatively.

Education Reform

John Dewey was a strong proponent for progressive educational reform. He believed that education should be based on the principle of learning through doing.

In 1894 Dewey and his wife Harriet started their own experimental primary school, the University Elementary School, at the University of Chicago. His goal was to test his educational theories, but Dewey resigned when the university president fired Harriet.


Dewey wrote his first two books, Psychology (1887) and Leibniz’s New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding (1888), when he was working at the University of Michigan. Over the course of his lifetime, Dewey published more than 1,000 works, including essays, articles and books. His writing covered a broad range of topics: psychology, philosophy, educational theory, culture, religion and politics. Through his articles in The New Republic, he established himself as one of the most highly regarded social commentators of his day. Dewey continued to write prolifically up until his death.

Later Life and Death

In 1946, Dewey, then 87, remarried to a widow named Roberta Grant. Following their marriage, the Deweys lived off of Roberta’s inheritance and John’s book royalties. On June 1, 1952, John Dewey, a lifelong supporter of educational reform and defender of rights for everyman, died of pneumonia at the age of 92 in the couple’s New York City apartment.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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John Dewey: Life and Career as a Scholastic Philosopher and University Professor. (2016, Nov 11). Retrieved from

John Dewey: Life and Career as a Scholastic Philosopher and University Professor essay
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