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Educator John Dewey originated the experimentalism philosophy. A proponent of social change and education reform, he founded The New School for Social Research.
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John Dewey was born October 20, 1859, in Burlington, Vermont. He taught at universities from 1884 to 1930. An academic philosopher and proponent of educational reform, in 1894 Dewey started an experimental elementary school. In 1919 he cofounded The New School for Social Research. Dewey published over 1,000 pieces of writings during his lifetime. He died June 1, 1952, in New York, New York.
"If I were asked to name the most needed of all reforms in the spirit of education I should say: 'Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make of it the full meaning of the present life.'"
John Dewey was born on October 20, 1859, to Archibald Dewey and Lucina Artemisia Rich in Burlington, Vermont. He was the third of the couple’s four sons, one of whom died as an infant. Dewey’s mother, the daughter of a wealthy farmer, was a devout Calvinist. His father, a merchant, left his grocery business to become a Union Army soldier in the Civil War. John Dewey’s father was known to share his passion for British literature with his offspring. After the war, Archibald became the proprietor of a successful tobacco shop, affording the family a comfortable life and financial stability.
Growing up, John Dewey attended Burlington public schools, excelling as a student. When he was just 15 years old, he enrolled at the University of Vermont, where he particularly enjoyed studying philosophy under the tutelage of H.A.P. Torrey. Four years later, Dewey graduated from the University of Vermont second in his class.
The autumn after Dewey graduated, his cousin landed him a teaching job at a seminary in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Two years later, 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 private school in Vermont. During his free time, he read philosophical treatises and discussed them with his former teacher, Torrey. As his fascination with the topic grew, Dewey decided to take a break from teaching in order to study philosophy and psychology at Johns Hopkins. George Sylvester Morris and G. Stanley Hall were among the teachers there who influenced Dewey most.
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.
In 1888 Dewey and his family left Michigan for the University of Minnesota, where he was a professor of philosophy. However, within a year, they chose to return to the University of Michigan, where Dewey taught for the next five years.
By 1894 Dewey was made head of the philosophy department at the University of Chicago. He remained at the University of Chicago until 1904, also serving as director of its School of Education for two years.
Dewey left Chicago in 1904 to join the Ivy League, becoming a professor of philosophy at Columbia University while working at Teachers College on the side.
In 1930, Dewey left Columbia and retired from his teaching career with the title of professor emeritus.
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