Dewey’s Progressive Era

John Dewey was rather important figure in the history of education. Despite the fact that his progressive ideas aren’t accepted widely, some of his concepts and ideas are quite popular among today’s teachers. Actually, Dewey’s idea was to promote democratic education at school based on philosophies of Plato and Rousseau. Dewey wanted to prove that teaching wasn’t simply remembering, paraphrasing and answering lessons; instead, he argued that experiences, knowledge and skills should be integrated into students’ studying process.

Actually, such concept refers to school of Pragmatism. (Hickman 1992) Some teachers like Dewey’s idea of learning by doing. It is stated that Dewey’s progressive education became popular after the Cold War period. Dewey is known to be the founder of standard-based education reform, outcome-based education and NCTM standard. Dewey positively influenced teaching process in many public and private schools.

For example, Dewey provided an idea that teachers should focus on intellectual development of students, their critical and creative thinking instead of learning material by heart. He showed that education is strongly connected with democratic process in society: “Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife”. (Martin 2003) Also teachers realized that personal growth and exploration ensure better results and are more interesting for students. They become more motivated to study. Judgment is one more focus rather than knowledge.

Simply saying, students have to become grown-ups who “are able to pass judgments pertinently and discriminatingly on the problems of human living”. (Martin 2003) Dewey’s contribution is that many schools nowadays tri to help students to learn how to survive and to succeed in life, how to cooperate with others, etc. Dewey often argued that “in a complex society, ability to understand and sympathize with the operations and lot of others is a condition of common purpose which only education can procure”. (Martin 2003)


Hickman, Larry. (1992). John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Martin, Jay. (2003). The Education of John Dewey. USA: Columbia University Press.