John Dewey's Philosophy of Education Before Democracy and Education

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Vol: 19, Issue: 1

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Chambliss, J. J.
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John Dewey's Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, was published in 1916. It is still the best-known work in philosophy of education by an American author, and has remained in print down to the present time. Democracy and Education differs from many texts in the philosophy of education in that it was not written merely as a philosophy to be "applied" to education. It was made possible in large part by Dewey's participation in the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago from 1896 to 1904. Dewey's own experience with faculty and students at that school is the life of education for which Democracy and Education gives testimony. This is true as well for Dewey's shorter works on education written during and just after his involvement with the school, including School and Society, The Child and the Curriculum, and Moral Principles in Education. What is more, he was philosophy of education editor for Paul Monroe's Cyclopedia of Education and contributed a total of 118 articles to the five volumes of that work, 1911-1913. Reprinted in Dewey's Collected Works, these articles make up a total of 266 pages, sufficient for a volume in their own right. Looking at the articles alongside corresponding subject matter in Democracy and Education, one sees numerous examples of verbatim and slightly revised accounts of the former in the latter. When Dewey sat down to write Democracy and Education, he was well prepared by the work at the Laboratory School, his short books that were influenced by that work, as well as his thinking, teaching, and writing on related topics such as ethics, social theory, and logic.