JOHN DEWEY was humble in origin. Son of a grocer, he was born in Burlington, Vermont, on October 20, 1859. Since early in childhood, John had chores to do around the house and learned to regard them as a natural part of life. When he had to go to school, however, he did not show much enthusiasm. He preferred to learn from direct contacts with life, finding them much more exciting than the school work regarded by him, as by most of his boyhood friends, as boring and of little practical value. This experience impressed him deeply and determined all his subsequent views on the function of education.
It is difficult to say what would have become of the boy, were it not for his mother who was eager to provide her sons with the best opportunities. Stimulated by her, John decided to enter the University of Vermont ( 1875). At first he was not particularly impressed by campus life or academic routine; all the courses he took, including Latin and Greek, were required, there was no choice whatsoever. But toward the end of his studies he got acquainted with modern scientific ideas, including the theory of evolution, which impressed him greatly. And when, during the senior year, he took the course in philosophy, his mind was made up to carry on his educational work.
There was no graduate school at the University of Vermont; so borrowing five hundred dollars from one of his aunts he entered the Johns Hopkins University ( 1882) where two years later he wrote his doctoral dissertation on "The Psychology of Kant" and earned a Ph.D.
The first ten years of his teaching career, at the University of Michigan, were not particularly distinguished. But he learned much, formulated his own liberal philosophy of life, and in the latter task he was greatly assisted by a local co-ed he met in a boarding house and married.
However, when the couple moved to the University of Chicago ( 1894), John Dewey, as Director of the School of Education, had a chance to test and express his ideas. With the financial
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Publication information: Book title: American Philosophy. Contributors: Ralph B. Winn - Editor. Publisher: Philosophical Library. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1955. Page number: 288.