Dastardly John Dewey
Dewey admired Charles Darwin and he believed that education and democracy were based on evolution. As such, these ideas were based on the premise that nothing is constant.
John Dewey (1859-1952) was a highly renowned individual who worked in many fields, including education, politics, and psychology. His most lasting contribution was his work in the educational system, and he was enamored with the concept of “progressive education.” 1 His influence continues today primarily through The Center for Dewey Studies at the University of Southern Illinois.
Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont, and grew up in a middle-class family and joined the First Congregational Church at age eleven but later sought an even more progressive religious perspective. In 1875, at the age of 16, he began attending the University of Vermont in Burlington. While much of Dewey’s studies centered on classical topics such as Latin, Greek, literature, and rhetoric, it was here that he was subject to the beginnings of the radical transformation of our schools.
Upon graduation in 1879, Dewey became a high school teacher in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Dewey returned to Vermont in 1881, and he continued teaching high school while continuing his philosophy studies. In September 1882, Dewey entered Johns Hopkins University to begin graduate studies in philosophy.
Johns Hopkins was one of the first American universities to offer graduate instruction comparable to the European universities, emphasizing original scholarly research as an expectation for graduate students and faculty members. During this time, Christian theology was a necessary study along with philosophy. However, Dewey shunned Christian studies, and he focused on philosophy as a major with history and political science as minors. It was during these studies that Dewey discovered the works of the philosophers Hegel and Kant.
After completing his Doctorate in 1884, Dewey received an appointment as an instructor of philosophy at Michigan University. This institution shunned Christian theology. Replacing it was education that focused on British and German philosophy. In 1886, Dewey caught the academic community’s attention for his articles that called for the fusion of philosophy and psychology.
In 1887 Dewey’s had his first book “Psychology” published, and in it, he explained a single philosophical system based on the scientific study of psychology and German idealist philosophy. While well-received and used as a textbook, one of Dewey’s former professors criticized the book.
In 1888 Dewey’s growing reputation led him to be Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. However, after the sudden death of his mentor George Morris, he returned to Michigan in 1889 to serve as Chair of the Department of Philosophy. In 1894, Dewey joined the faculty at The University of Chicago. It was here that Dewey’s department looked to bring together philosophy, psychology, and the study of pedagogy (relationships between elementary and secondary school teachers and university educators). Dewey contended that pedagogy should be a separate department to train its students to be “education specialists.” As a result, Dewey found an appointment to lead the new pedagogy department. Dewey’s writings began to reflect movement toward a new philosophical stance called instrumentalism, which would later be known as “pragmatism.” 2 This philosophical protocol holds that truth is a human tool to solve problems. Accordantly, the truth must change as issues change. Sound familiar? Due to much discord with the faculty in 1904, Dewey resigned from his position at the University of Chicago. After that, he entered a professorship at Columbia University. In 1916 he wrote one of his seminal books titled “Democracy and Education.” Dewey remained at Columbia teaching philosophy until the end of his academic career in 1930. He continued his teaching as an emeritus professor and authored his book “Logic” in 1938, and a year later, he retired from university activities. Until his death in 1952, Dewey continued to write and speak about intellectual and social issues and prepared educational tracks for Turkey, Mexico, and the Soviet Union.
The National Education Association (NEA) 3 recognized John Dewey as the father of modern education, bestowing him high recognition for his works. Dewey admired Charles Darwin, and he believed that education and democracy were based on evolution. As such, these ideas were based on the premise that nothing is constant. He said the only sound good is a change for the good (positivism). So, he did not measure anything from any absolute standards. We know this as relativism, which denies absolutes. Dewey’s works are also creeds that espouse the notion that students must not think by themselves; they are a part of the collective.
John Dewey was a signer of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933 (some writings suggest that Dewey was a primary author). Humanism holds that men are their own gods, and everything is relative to what the individual perceives concerning improvement or detriment. Humanists believe they are helping people because they think they are making children happier by looking to end faith in God. 4
If one could remove people from their roots, it becomes easy to sway them to a particular point of view. It is no question that this is happening at an alarmingly accelerated rate in America today with the destruction of our Godly heritage in public school courses. John Dewey was one of the prime movers of this educational revolution. Today we often hear from the cultural elites, and sad to say from many ordinary people, that the “Christian right” seeks to brainwash people and establish a theocracy. While such notions are baseless, why do these same people who say such things never admit that something might be occurring similarly but of an opposing philosophical worldview?
Cogent Author and Publisher, Frederick R. Smith
Cogent Editor, Sean Tinney
The progressive educational system grew primarily from the concepts of the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau
Pragmatism is a type of philosophy by which its association with experimental results measures the truth of a plan through a practical outcome. Accordingly, pragmatists aver discoveries modify that truth is relative to the inquiry’s time, place, and purpose.