A philosopher whose books revolutionized teaching methods in the US.
In the late 1900s the USA developed its own school of thinking known as pragmatism. The gist is that ideas only useful if they can be put into action. The Americans cleaned out the philosophy cupboard and threw out everything that had no practical value. one of the leading lights of this new age of practical thinking was John Dewey. He saw education as the most useful means of putting his ideas into practice. education shaped society. Dewey passionately believed in “The full development of individuals as human beings”. He wrote two books that revolutionized teaching methods in the Us.
John Dewey was born in Vermont, New England. He was very close to his brother and they enjoyed outdoor activities like canoeing. His mother made sure her sons had college educations. Dewey’s father didn’t make much money because of his generosity towards the needy. The children he mixed with at school came from all walks of life. No-one was deemed better than anyone else. this helped shape his whole outlook. Throughout his long life he was a strong believer in democracy.The young Dewey loved learning about things, but he found school boring. this experience also shaped his future. Dewey said the more important lessons about life are learned outside the classroom.
Dewey believed that society was the sum total of the people in it. The better educated the people, the better society would be. But bad teaching methods were resulting in a lot of potentials going to waste. Dewey thought children’s talents and interests should be taken into account, rather than just teaching them facts parrot-fashion. As head of philosophy at the University of Chicago, he got the chance to put theory in practice. He opened an experimental school to test his ideas about teaching. Dewey encouraged parents to take an active role in their children’s education.
At first Dewey embraced Hegel‘s theory that the developing ideas of divine mind are what formed reality. Later he believed that nature itself is the ultimate reality. At the University of Chicago, Dewey taught that ideas were tools to solve problems in the environment. This was hailed as a new philosophy, the Chicago school of thought.
Dewey’s reputation earned him invitations all over the world. he was especially popular in China and Russia. Unfortunately, his sympathetic view of the new Communist regime in Russia got him labelled a “red”. Towards the end of his life he was also in trouble with some educationalists, who thought his methods had caused standards to slip. Dewey took part in an official inquiry into Trotsky, a leader of Russia’s revolution (1918). Dewey’s study of all the evidence convince him that violent revolution could never be justified.