132+ Best John Dewey Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer. He is regarded as one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also the founder of functional psychology and one of the earliest developers of philosophy of pragmatism. His ideas made significant impact in social and educational reforms. Thoughtful John Dewey quotes on experience, teachers, education, art, democracy, and society will give you the wisdom you need.

If you’re searching for life quotes and sayings that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of motivational Viktor Frankl quotes, Sigmund Freud quotes, and Thomas Paine quotes.

Most Famous John Dewey Quotes

We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. – John Dewey

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. – John Dewey

Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. – John Dewey

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

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

Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process. – John Dewey

Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife. – 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. – John Dewey

All genuine education comes about through experience. – John Dewey

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

The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education … (and) the object and reward of learning is continued capacity for growth. Now this idea cannot be applied to all the members of a society except where intercourse of man with man is mutual, and except where there is adequate provision for the reconstruction of social habits and institutions by means of wide stimulation arising from equitably distributed interests. And this means a democratic society. – 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. – John Dewey

Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire. – John Dewey

The need for growth, for development, for change, is fundamental to life. – John Dewey

Knowledge is humanistic in quality not because it is about human products in the past, but because of what it does in liberating human intelligence and human sympathy. Any subject matter which accomplishes this result is humane, and any subject matter which does not accomplish it is not even educational. – John Dewey

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

That which distinguishes the Soviet system both from other national systems and from the progressive schools of other countries is the conscious control of every educational procedure by reference to a single and comprehensive social purpose. – John Dewey

It is the office of the school environment to balance the various elements in the social environment, and to see to it that each individual gets an opportunity to escape from the limitations of the social group in which he was born, and to come into living contact with a broader environment. – John Dewey

Too rarely is the individual teacher so free from the dictation of authoritative supervisor, textbook on methods, prescribed course of study, etc., that he can let his mind come to close quarters with the pupil’s mind and the subject matter. – John Dewey

There is nothing left worth preserving in the notions of unseen powers, controlling human destiny, to which obedience and worship are due. – John Dewey

One can think effectively only when one is willing to endure suspense and to undergo the trouble of searching. – John Dewey

Art is the most effective mode of communications that exists. – John Dewey

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

Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life and make it the full meaning of the present life. – John Dewey

Modern philosophy certainly exacts a surrender of all supernaturalism and fixed dogma and rigid institutionalism with which Christianity has been historically associated – John Dewey

“To learn from experience” is to make a backward and forward connection between what we do to things and what we enjoy or suffer from things in consequence. – John Dewey

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

Education, in its broadest sense, is the means of this social continuity of life. – John Dewey

most notable distinction between living and inanimate beings is that the former maintain themselves by renewal. – John Dewey

Inspirational John Dewey Quotes

A large part of the art of instruction lies in making the difficulty of new problems large enough to challenge thought, and small enough so that, in addition to the confusion naturally attending the novel elements, there shall be luminous familiar spots from which helpful suggestions may spring. – John Dewey

Individuals are certainly interested, at times, in having their own way, and their own way may go contrary to the ways of others. But they are also interested, and chiefly interested upon the whole, in entering into the activities of others and taking part in conjoint and cooperative doings. Otherwise, no such thing as a community would be possible. – John Dewey

If we learn not humility, we learn nothing. – John Dewey

Science is a systematic means of gaining reliable knowledge. – John Dewey

Any genuine teaching will result, if successful, in someone’s knowing how to bring about a better condition of things than existed earlier. – John Dewey

In a world that has so largely engaged in a mad and often brutally harsh race for material gain by means of ruthless competition, it behooves the school to make ceaseless and intelligently organized effort to develop above all else the will for co-operation and the spirit which sees in every other individual one who has an equal right to share in the cultural and material fruits of collective human invention, industry, skill and knowledge – John Dewey

Democracy means the belief that humanistic culture should prevail. – 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

Art is not the possession of the few who are recognized writers, painters, musicians; it is the authentic expression of any and all individuality. – John Dewey

The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by education. – John Dewey

There’s all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something. – John Dewey

From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in the school comes from his inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school in any complete and free way within the school itself; while, on the other hand, he is unable to apply in daily life what he is learning at school. That is the isolation of the school — its isolation from life. – John Dewey

The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to feel important. – John Dewey

“The phrase “”think for one’s self”” is a pleonasm. Unless one does it for one’s self, it isn’t thinking.” – John Dewey

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

Schools have ignored the value of experience and chosen to teach by pouring in. – John Dewey

Independent self-reliant people would be a counterproductive anachronism in the collective society of the future where people will be defined by their associations. – John Dewey

Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person learns only the particular thing he is studying at the time. – 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. – John Dewey

Deep John Dewey Quotes on Education, Reflection and Community

Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind. – John Dewey

The result of the educative process is capacity for further education. – John Dewey

Talk of democracy has little content when big business rules the life of the country through its control of the means of production, exchange, the press and other means of publicity, propaganda and communication. – John Dewey

Creative thinking will improve as we relate the new fact to the old and all facts to each other. – John Dewey

Human nature exists and operates in an environment. And it is not ‘in’ that environment as coins are in a box, but as a plant is in the sunlight and soil. – John Dewey

Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity. Parents educate their children so that they may get on; princes educate their subjects as instruments of their own purpose. – John Dewey

Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates invention. It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving…conflict is a sine qua non of reflection and ingenuity. – John Dewey

What’s in a question, you ask? Everything. It is evoking stimulating response or stultifying inquiry. It is, in essence, the very core of teaching. – John Dewey

I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God. – 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

You cannot teach today the same way you did yesterday to prepare students for tomorrow. – John Dewey

A society with too few independent thinkers is vulnerable to control by disturbed and opportunistic leaders. A society which wants to create and maintain a free and democratic social system must create responsible independence of thought among its young. – John Dewey

The real process of education should be the process of learning to think through the application of real problems. – John Dewey

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

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

I believe that the teacher’s place and work in the school is to be interpreted from this same basis. The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influences. – John Dewey

“The school must be “”a genuine form of active community life, instead of a place set apart in which to learn lessons””.” – John Dewey

I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. – John Dewey

There is no god and there is no soul. Hence, there is no need for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is dead and buried. There is no room for fixed and natural law or permanent moral absolutes. – John Dewey

We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments for the purpose makes a great difference. – John Dewey

How can the child learn to be a free and responsible citizen when the teacher is bound? – John Dewey

Schools should take an active part in directing social change, and share in the construction of a new social order – John Dewey

All learning begins when our comfortable ideas turn out to be inadequate. – John Dewey

The conception of education as a social process and function has no definite meaning until we define the kind of society we have in mind. – John Dewey

In brief, the function of knowledge is to make one experience freely available to other experiences. – John Dewey

Hunger not to have, but to be – John Dewey

We only think when we are confronted with problems. – John Dewey

The interaction of knowledge and skills with experience is key to learning. – John Dewey

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

We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts. – John Dewey

Just as a flower which seems beautiful and has color but no perfume, so are the fruitless words of the man who speaks them but does them not. – John Dewey

The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative. – John Dewey

Man lives in a world of surmise, of mystery, of uncertainties. – John Dewey

One lives with so many bad deeds on one’s conscience and some good intentions in one’s heart. – John Dewey

No man’s credit is as good as his money. – John Dewey

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

Such happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the endeavor to wrest from each changing situations of experience its own full and unique meaning. – John Dewey

Without some goals and some efforts to reach it, no man can live. – John Dewey

Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis. – John Dewey

Nature is the mother and the habitat of man, even if sometimes a stepmother and an unfriendly home. – John Dewey

No man’s credit is as good as his money. – John Dewey

By object is meant some element in the complex whole that is defined in abstraction from the whole of which it is a distinction. – John Dewey

The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think — rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men. – John Dewey

We eat out all the time, and you have no idea what you’re eating. – John Dewey

Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us. But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid. – John Dewey

We naturally associate democracy, to be sure, with freedom of action, but freedom of action without freed capacity of thought behind it is only chaos – John Dewey

Those outages were caused by separate equipment failures, – John Dewey

Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society. – John Dewey

The reason the outages affected the same group and not other areas is because those customers are served by the same cable loop and the cable loop was affected by equipment failures, … But the cable itself is in good working order. – John Dewey

There is something going on at Northeastern. We sent a technician out there and all our equipment checked out fine. Right now the customer is looking at what issues they may have. – John Dewey

School is not preparation for life, but school is life – John Dewey

For in spite of itself, any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an ‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive, constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities. – John Dewey

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

Genuine ignorance is… profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas. – John Dewey

Every one of the constituent elements of a social group, in a modern city as in a savage tribe, is born immature, helpless, without language, beliefs, ideas, or social standards. Each individual, each unit who is the carrier of the life-experience of his group, in time passes away. Yet the life of the group goes on. – John Dewey

There is no such thing as educational value in the abstract. The notion that some subjects and methods and that acquaintance with certain facts and truths possess educational value in and of themselves is the reason why traditional education reduced the material of education so largely to a diet of predigested materials. – John Dewey

Instruction is important. – John Dewey

As some species die out, forms better adapted to utilize the obstacles against which they struggled in vain come into being. – John Dewey

All of us have many habits of whose import we are quite unaware, since they were formed without our knowing what we were about. Consequently, they possess us, rather than we them. They move us; they control us. Unless we become aware of what they accomplish, and pass judgment upon the worth of the result, we do not control them. – John Dewey

In order to have a large number of values in common, all the members of the group must have an equable opportunity, to receive and to take from others. There must be a large variety of shared undertakings and experiences. Otherwise, the influences which educate some into masters, educates others into slaves. – John Dewey

There is not, in fact, any such thing as the direct influence of one human being on another apart from use of the physical environment as an intermediary. A smile, a frown, a rebuke, a word of warning or encouragement, all involve some physical change. Otherwise, the attitude of one would not get over to alter the attitude of another. – John Dewey

Nothing takes root in mind when there is no balance between doing and receiving. – John Dewey

Any doctrine that weakens personal responsibility for judgment and for action helps create the attitudes that welcome and support the totalitarian state. – John Dewey

As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance. – John Dewey

Mere physical growing up, mere mastery of the bare necessities of subsistence will not suffice to reproduce the life of the group. Deliberate effort and the taking of thoughtful pains are required. – John Dewey

To me faith means not worrying. – John Dewey

The goal of education is to enable individuals to continue their education. – John Dewey

Schools are, indeed, one important method of the transmission which forms the dispositions of the immature; but it is only one means, and, compared with other agencies, a relatively superficial means. Only as we have grasped the necessity of more fundamental and persistent modes of tuition can we make sure of placing the scholastic methods in their true context. – John Dewey

“Such words as “”society”” and “”community”” are likely to be misleading, for they have a tendency to make us think there is a single thing corresponding to the single word.” – John Dewey

The most important factor in the training of good mental habits consists in acquiring the attitude of suspended conclusion, and in mastering the various methods of searching for new materials to corroborate or to refute the first suggestions that occur. – John Dewey

Where there is giving there must be taking. – John Dewey

If a person cannot foresee the consequences of his act, and is not capable of understanding what he is told about its outcome by those with more experience, it is impossible for him to guide his act intelligently. In such a state, every act is alike to him. – John Dewey

The young of human beings compare so poorly in original efficiency with the young of many of the lower animals, that even the powers needed for physical sustentation have to be acquired under tuition. How much more, then, is this the case with respect to all the technological, artistic, scientific, and moral achievements of humanity! – John Dewey

All direction is but re-direction; it shifts the activities already going on into another channel. Unless one is cognizant of the energies which are already in operation, one’s attempts at direction will almost surely go amiss. – John Dewey

When we consider the close connection between science and industrial development on the one hand, and between literary and aesthetic cultivation and an aristocratic social organization on the other, we get light on the opposition between technical scientific studies and refining literary studies. We have before us the need of overcoming this separation in education if society is to be truly democratic. – John Dewey

The experience has to be formulated in order to be communicated. – John Dewey

Confidence is directness and courage in meeting the facts of life. – John Dewey

The importance of language in gaining knowledge is doubtless the chief cause of the common notion that knowledge may be passed directly from one to another. It almost seems as if all we have to do to convey an idea into the mind of another is to convey a sound into his ear. Thus imparting knowledge gets assimilated to a purely physical process. – John Dewey

Even dogs and horses have their actions modified by association with human beings; they form different habits because human beings are concerned with what they do. – John Dewey

The need for growth – what we might call immaturity – is not a negative state of being. – John Dewey

A man can be prevented from breaking into other persons’ houses by shutting him up, but shutting him up may not alter his disposition to commit burglary. – John Dewey

To have an idea of a thing is not just to get certain sensations from it. It is to be able to respond to the thing in view of its place in an inclusive scheme of action; it is to foresee the drift and probable consequence of the action of the thing upon us and of our action upon it. – John Dewey

Understanding one another means that objects, including sounds, have the same value for both with respect to carrying on a common pursuit. – John Dewey

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