John Dewey was born on October 20, 1859, in Burlington, Vermont, to Archibald Sprague Dewey and Lucina Artemisia Rich Dewey. “His was “a family of modest means.” He was one of four boys in the family. An older brother named John died in a terrible accident on January 17, 1859. When another boy was born forty weeks after the death of their son, the parents chose to name him John also.
Dewey followed the example of another older brother named Davis Rich Dewey and attended the University of Vermont. He graduated (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1879. He studied privately with a professor at the university between his graduation from Vermont and his enrollment at Johns Hopkins University. He taught high school for two years in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and elementary school for two years; he decided after this experience that he was not suited for either primary or secondary teaching. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. He accepted a faculty position at the University of Michigan in 1884 and worked there two different periods of time – 1884-88 and 1889-94. He wrote an “unpublished and now lost dissertation” titled “The Psychology of Kant.”
“In 1894 Dewey joined the newly founded University of Chicago (1894-1904) where he developed his belief in Rational Empiricism, becoming associated with the newly emerging Pragmatic philosophy. His time at the University of Chicago resulted in four essays collectively entitled Thought and its Subject-Matter, which was published with collected works from his colleagues at Chicago under the collective title Studies in Logical Theory (1903). During that time Dewey also initiated the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where he was able to actualize the pedagogical beliefs that provided material for his first major work in education, The School and Society (1899). Disagreements with the administration ultimately caused his resignation from the University, and soon thereafter he relocated near the East Coast. In 1899, Dewey was elected president of the American Psychological Association. From 1904 until his retirement in 1930 he was professor of philosophy ate both Columbia University and Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 1905 he became president of the American Philosophical Association. He was a longtime member of the American Federation of Teachers….”
Dewey “published more than 700 articles in 140 journals, and approximately 40 books.” Each of his works focused on “one particular philosophical theme, but “Dewey included his major themes in most of what he published.”
“Reflecting his immense influence on 20th-century thought, Hilda Neatby, in 1953, wrote “Dewey has been to our age what Aristotle was to the later middle ages, not a philosopher, but the philosopher.” He was considered to be liberal and even dangerously radical.
Dewey was “an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology. A well-known public intellectual, he was also a major voice of progressive education and liberalism. Although Dewey is known best for his publications about education, he also wrote about many other topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, art, logic, social theory, and ethics.
“The overriding theme of Dewey’s works was his profound belief in democracy, be it in politics, education or communication and journalism. As Dewey himself stated in 1888, while still at the University of Michigan, `Democracy and the one, ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonymous.
“Known for his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements – schools and civil society – to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.”
Dewey married Alice Chipman, and the couple was parents of six children. His second wife was Roberta Lowitz Grant. He was honored by the United States Postal Service with a Prominent Americans series 30 cent postage stamp. He died at age 92 on June 1, 1952, in New York.