Today in History: Happy Birthday, John Dewey!

| October 20, 2017

171016_news_219x365Entering Zankel (formerly Main Hall) of Teachers College, we are greeted by the famous quote, “I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.” (from My Pedagogic Creed). And soon to our left, as we take a few steps up, we note Jacob Epstein’s bust of John Dewey, presented to him by his beloved students and friends on May 16, 1929, a few months before his 70th birthday. At the unveiling of the bust, “Professor W. H. Kilpatrick of Teachers College delivered the chief address, in which he summed up as follows Dewey’s services to education, saying that he has made ‘the greatest contribution to thought yet made by an American and that he must be included among the great men of all time now. Certainly these things are true of his contribution to education. No school child in the country but feels the effect of his teaching, and no teacher or school official. And his influence grows, not only here but elsewhere; many foreign countries feel it. He is the best-known American educator…'” (Teachers College Record, vol. 31, no. 3, 1929)

The son of Archibald Sprague Dewey and Lucina Artemisia Rich Dewey and the second of four boys, John Dewey was born on October 20, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont. Dewey came from a modest family, but went on to become one of the most influential of philosophers, psychologists, and educational reformers of all time. His profound belief in democracy, advocacy for pragmatism, and celebrated work in progressive education earned him international respect. In 1904 Dewey left the University of Chicago to come to Teachers College, Columbia University, where he was appointed a seat on the faculty and spent years writing Experience and Nature.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

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