Professor Rex Li
G.T. College, Hong Kong
John Dewey's Education and Psychology:
Table of Contents
(A) A Sea of Deweyan Scholarship
(B) The Michigan Years and Dewey “in love” with Education
(C) A Principled John and the Moment of Truth
(D) The Growth of Dewey’s My Pedagogic Creed (1897)
(E) From Michigan to Chicago: Proletarian Revolution or Social Reform?
(F) Dewey’s Top Ten Writings in Education: A Summary
(G) Dewey the Psychologist
(H) The Zeitgeist of Nineteenth Century Psychology
(I) The Developmental Path of Dewey’s Psychology: A Sketch from 1884 – 1933
(J) Dewey’s Major Writings in Psychology: A Summary
(K) In Brief
A Sea of Deweyan Scholarship
John Dewey’s impact on education is global and phenomenal. So much has been written about his education in the past century that any new unique perspective is hard to come by. For his education writings, there are at least 5 notable selections: Ratner (1940), Dworkin (1959), Archambault (1964), Hickman & Alexander (1998), and Simpson & Stock Jr (2010). My challenge is to navigate through the sea of Deweyan scholarship and to present a concise picture to the future generations of Chinese educators and teachers.
Dewey wrote extensively in education, but one of his earliest masterpieces is undeniably My Pedagogic Creed in 1897, written during his years in the University of Chicago (1894-1904). From My Pedagogic Creed, his ideas in education were further expanded in The School and Society (1899), The Child and the Curriculum (1902), Democracy and Education (1915), Experience and Education (1938). To help readers decipher Dewey, my first task is to trace the roots of My Pedagogic Creed and the story began in the University of Michigan.
The Michigan Years and Dewey “in love” with Education
In September 1884, a female student was eagerly expecting the arrival of a young professor of philosophy to teach her psychology. Her name was Harriet Alice Chipman, then a philosophy major interested in both philosophy and psychology. As a young woman with a brilliant mind and receptive to new and scientific ideas, she belonged to the new type of progressive, educated women with “indomitable courage, energy and intellectual integrity.” (Dewey, 1939, 22). He was John Dewey, a young PhD from Johns Hopkins with specialization in psychology and philosophy.
Alice had a “deeply religious nature”, but had “never accepted any church dogma” (Dewey, ibid). Her views and attitudes matched his. More importantly, she had a strong sense of social responsibility and was interested in education, planning to pursue a career in teaching after graduation. They lived in the same dormitory and very soon the two fell in love. The first result: Dewey’s interest in feminism and education grew. In Education and the Health of Women (EW1: 64-68) and Health and Sex in Higher Education (EW1: 69-80), Dewey applied statistics to prove that education did no harm to women’s health. Dewey also began to study educational theories in Europe and examined curriculum issues of high school and college education. The second result: They were engaged in December 1885 and married in summer 1886. Since then, Dewey was in love with education and applied psychology to examine education.
 There are research centers on John Dewey worldwide, notably in the USA, Germany and China. For an international perspective on Dewey, see Hickman & Spadafora (ed.) (2009)