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A collection of thoughts and quotations by John Dewey on experience, education, democracy, happiness, wisdom and philosophy.

40 Thought-Provoking John Dewey Quotes You Must Know

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Burlington, Vermont, United States

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John Dewey was an acclaimed American philosopher and scholar, famous for his pragmatist approach to epistemology. Dewey contributed as a professor at various universities and had interest in subjects like education, democracy, psychology and art. Dewey advocated the system of ‘Progressive Education’, consisting of practical learning for both teachers and students. His approach to education was child centered and he suggested several innovative ideas for teaching and learning. His ideas, writings, and thoughts on education and learning revolutionized the schooling systems. Schools and civil societies were two major fundamental elements that he asserted should be restructured. His ideas, sayings, thoughts, writings and quotes are viewed as fundamental principles in child education by major educational institutions even today. Although he had contributed to other social subjects, he is distinguished as an educator and philosopher, adamant on changing the world. Read on his thoughts and quotes that will help you channel your innate intelligence into something truly fulfilling and enriching. 

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

- John Dewey

We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.

- John Dewey

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.

- John Dewey

We only think when confronted with a problem.

- John Dewey

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.

- John Dewey

The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.

- John Dewey

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.

- The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, John Dewey

A problem well put is half solved.

- John Dewey

Hunger not to have, but to be

- John Dewey

Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.

- Democracy and Education, John Dewey

There's all the difference in the world between having something to say, and having to say something.

- John Dewey

Art is the most effective mode of communications that exists.

- John Dewey

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.

- John Dewey

Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.

- John Dewey

Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry.

- Reconstruction in Philosophy, John Dewey

To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.

- John Dewey

The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.

- John Dewey

The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old beliefs.

- John Dewey

To me faith means not worrying

- John Dewey

The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.

- Experience and Education, John Dewey

The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.

- John Dewey

We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future.

- Experience and Education, John Dewey

Like the soil, mind is fertilized while it lies fallow, until a new burst of bloom ensues.

- Art as Experience, John Dewey

The only way to abolish war is to make peace seem heroic.

- John Dewey

The educational process has no end beyond itself; it is its own end.

- John Dewey

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.

- Democracy and Education, John Dewey

The goal of education is to enable individuals to continue their education.

- John Dewey

Wonder is the mother of all science.

- How We Think, John Dewey

Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.

- John Dewey

Of all affairs, communication is the most wonderful.

- Experience and Nature, John Dewey

The ultimate function of literature is to appreciate the world, sometimes indignantly, sometimes sorrowfully, but best of all to praise when it is luckily possible.

- John Dewey

Forty years spent in wandering in a wilderness like that of the present is not a sad fate--unless one attempts to make himself believe that the wilderness is after all itself the promised land

- John Dewey

Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes, may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history that is learned.

- Experience and Education, John Dewey

The two limits of every unit of thinking are a perplexed, troubled, or confused situation at the beginning, and a cleared up, unified, resolved situation at the close.

- John Dewey

Insecurity cuts deeper and extends more widely than bare unemployment. Fear of loss of work, dread of the oncoming of old age, create anxiety and eat into self-respect in a way that impairs personal dignity.

- Individualism Old and New, John Dewey

As long as politics is the shadow of big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.

- John Dewey

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

- John Dewey

Expertness of taste is at once the result and reward of constant exercise of thinking.

- The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, John Dewey

Except in dealing with commonplaces and catch phrases one has to assimilate, imaginatively, something of another's experience in order to tell him intelligently of one's own experience.

- Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, John Dewey

Most notable distinction between living and inanimate beings is that the former maintain themselves by renewal.

- Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, John Dewey