Top 50+John Dewey Quotes


Who is John Dewey

John Dewey 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 co-founded The New School for Social Research. Dewey published over 1,000 pieces of writings during his lifetime.

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. 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.

John Dewey quotes

1. Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

2. We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.

3. Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.

4. Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.

5. We only think when confronted with a problem.

6. A problem well put is half solved.

7. The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.

8. The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.

9. Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.

10. If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.

11. Hunger not to have, but to be.

12. Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.

13. Art is the most effective mode of communications that exists.

14. There’s all the difference in the world between having something to say, and having to say something.

15. Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.

16. The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.

17. Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry.

18. The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.
19. To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.

20. The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.

21. For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an ‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive, constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.

22. To me faith means not worrying.

23. The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old beliefs.

24. There is no such thing as educational value in the abstract. The notion that some subjects and methods and that acquaintance with certain facts and truths possess educational value in and of themselves is the reason why traditional education reduced the material of education so largely to a diet of predigested materials.

25. Every one has experienced how learning an appropriate name for what was dim and vague cleared up and crystallized the whole matter. Some meaning seems distinct almost within reach, but is elusive; it refuses to condense into definite form; the attaching of a word somehow (just how, it is almost impossible to say) puts limits around the meaning, draws it out from the void, makes it stand out as an entity on its own account.

26. We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future.

27. Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates invention. It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving…conflict is a sine qua non of reflection and ingenuity.

28. The only way to abolish war is to make peace seem heroic.

29. Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.

30. The only freedom that is of enduring importance is the freedom of intelligence, that is to say, freedom of observation and of judgment, exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worth while. The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or, with the external or physical side of activity.

31. Like the soil, mind is fertilized while it lies fallow, until a new burst of bloom ensues.

32. The goal of education is to enable individuals to continue their education.

33. wonder is the mother of all science.

34. Faith in the possibilities of continued and rigorous inquiry does not limit access to truth to any channel or scheme of things. It does not first say that truth is universal and then add there is but one road to it.

35. Every art communicates because it expresses. It enables us to share vividly and deeply in meanings… For communication is not announcing things… Communication is the process of creating participation, of making common what had been isolated and singular… the conveyance of meaning gives body and definiteness to the experience of the one who utters as well as to that of those who listen.

36. An empirical philosophy is in any case a kind of intellectual disrobing. We cannot permanently divest ourselves of the intellectual habits we take on and wear when we assimilate the culture of our own time and place. But intelligent furthering of culture demands that we take some of them off, that we inspect them critically to see what they are made of and what wearing them does to us. We cannot achieve recovery of primitive naïveté. But there is attainable a cultivated naïveté of eye, ear and thought.

37. As long as politics is the shadow of big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.

38. Of all affairs, communication is the most wonderful.

39. The ultimate function of literature is to appreciate the world, sometimes indignantly, sometimes sorrowfully, but best of all to praise when it is luckily possible.

40. Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.

41. As we have seen there is some kind of continuity in any case since every experience affects for better or worse the attitudes which help decide the quality of further experiences, by setting up certain preference and aversion, and making it easier or harder to act for this or that end.

42. I feel the gods are pretty dead, though I suppose I ought to know that however, to be somewhat more philosophical in the matter, if atheism means simply not being a theist, then of course I’m an atheist.

43. For, as I have suggested, disruption of the unity of the self is not limited to the cases that come to physicians and institutions for treatment. They accompany every disturbance of normal relations of husband and wife, parent and child, group and group, class and class, nation and nation. Emotional responses are so total as compared with the partial nature of intellectual responses, of ideas and abstract conceptions, that their consequences are more pervasive and enduring. I can, accordingly, think of nothing of greater practical importance than the psychic effects of human relationships, normal and abnormal, should be the object of continues study, including among the consequences the indirect somatic effects.” – The unity of the human being

44. Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

45. Now in many cases—too many cases—the activity of the immature human being is simply played upon to secure habits which are useful. He is trained like an animal rather than educated like a human being.

46. Nothing is more tragic than failure to discover one’s true business in life, or to find that one has drifted or been forced by circumstance into an uncongenial calling.

47. Forty years spent in wandering in a wilderness like that of the present is not a sad fate–unless one attempts to make himself believe that the wilderness is after all itself the promised land.

48. Knowledge is humanistic in quality not because it is about human products in the past, but because of what it does in liberating human intelligence and human sympathy. Any subject matter which accomplishes this result is humane, and any subject matter which does not accomplish it is not even educational.

49. Personality must be educated, and personality cannot be educated by confining its operations to technical and specialized things, or to the less important relationships of life. Full education comes only when there is a responsible share on the part of each person, in proportion to capacity, in shaping the aims and policies of the social groups to which he belongs.

50. Personality must be educated, and personality cannot be educated by confining its operations to technical and specialized things, or to the less important relationships of life. Full education comes only when there is a responsible share on the part of each person, in proportion to capacity, in shaping the aims and policies of the social groups to which he belongs.

51. Intellectual progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment of questions together with both of the alternatives they assume — an abandonment that results from their decreasing vitality and a change of urgent interest. We do not solve them: we get over them.

52. Preparation” is a treacherous idea. In a certain sense every experience should do something to prepare a person for later experiences of a deeper and more expansive quality. That is the very meaning of growth, continuity, reconstruction of experience. But it is a mistake to suppose that the mere acquisition of a certain amount of arithmetic, geography, history, etc., which is taught and studied because it may be useful at some time in the future, has this effect, and it is a mistake to suppose that acquisition of skills in reading and figuring will automatically constitute preparation for their right and effective use under conditions very unlike those in which they were acquired.

53. Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes, may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history that is learned.

54. most notable distinction between living and inanimate beings is that the former maintain themselves by renewal.

55. Men have gone on to build up vast intellectual schemes, philosophies, and theologies, to prove that ideals are not real as ideals but as antecedently existing actualities. They have failed to see that in converting moral realities into matters of intellectual assent they have evinced lack of moral faith. Faith that something should be in existence as far as lies in our power is changed into the intellectual belief that it is already in existence. When physical existence does not bear out the assertion, the physical is subtly changed into the metaphysical. In this way, moral faith has been inextricably tied up with intellectual beliefs about the supernatural.

56. Education is not preparation for life, Education is life itself.

57. A problem well-defined is a problem half solved.

58. . . . have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? How could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible? What else than what we can find could be expected, in the case of people having little knowledge and no secure method of knowing; with primitive institutions, and with so little control of natural forces that they lived in a constant state of fear?

59. The way our group or class does things tends to determine the proper objects of attention, and thus to prescribe the directions and limits of observation and memory. What is strange or foreign (that is to say outside the activities of the groups) tends to be morally forbidden and intellectually suspect.

60. It is [the teacher’s] business to be on the alert to see what attitudes and habitual tendencies are being created. In this direction he[sic] must, if he is an educator, be able to judge what attitudes are actually conducive to continued growth and what are detrimental. He must, in addition, have that sympathetic understanding of individuals as individuals which gives him an idea of what is actually going on in the minds of those who are learning.


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