Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education Logo
Roots in History
Evolving Classroom
Photo Gallery
About the Series
Get Involved
background image for Public Education in America section

John Dewey (1859-1952)

John DeweyA formidable intellect supplemented by service to social and democratic causes provided the impetus to John Dewey’s profound impact on education in the twentieth century. Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont, and attended local schools and the University of Vermont, eventually earning a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

While Dewey’s accomplishments as a philosopher gained him posts at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago and Columbia University, his educational theories broke new ground and continue to wield influence at the dawn of the twenty-first century. As an alternative to the drill-and-recitation methods of the nineteenth century, Dewey’s School and Society (1899) espoused the notion that ideas should be grounded in experience. In Experience and Education (1938), he argued that education should be based on the child’s psychological and physical development, as well as the world outside the schoolroom.

The relevance of Dewey’s ideas to industrial and urban growth made his theories prominent in his lifetime, and the recurring notions of child-centered learning formed the basis of progressive education, enjoying continued popularity today.

Other Innovators:
  Horace Mann
John Joseph Hughes
Catherine Beecher
Booker T. Washington
John Dewey
Ellwood Cubberley
  Albert Shanker
Linda Brown Thompson
Jose Angel Gutiérrez
Deborah Meier
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

Home | Roots in History | Innovators | Evolving Classroom
Photo Gallery | About the Series | Get Involved

Copyright © 2001 Roundtable, Inc. All rights reserved.