Dr.John Dewey

Lest We Forget!

(Birth: 20-10-1859)
(Death: 01-06-1952)

“Aim of living is not perfection as a final goal,
but the ever-enduring process of perfecting, maturing, refining.”
“ What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child,
that must the community want for all of its children.”

--Dr. John Dewey

1. Dr (Prof.) John Dewey (1859-1952)?

2. Who was Dr. John Dewey to whom Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar owed so much as mentioned in ‘Annihilation of Caste’? Mr. Nank Chand Rattu, The personal assistant of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar mentioned in his reminiscences writings that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar written to his wife Mrs. Savita Ambedkar from America in June 1952,where he was honoured and awarded the honorary degree LLD on drafting Constitution of India ‘ I owe any whole intellectual life to Prof. John Dewey.’

3. Why Dr. K.N.Kadam of Poona said “ I, for one, believe that unless we understand something of John Dewey, one of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Teacher at the Columbia University, it would be impossible to understand Dr. Ambedkar. ……In fact, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had himself intended and planned to write on the Philosophy of John Dewey.” (Preface to “The Meaning of the Ambedkarite Conversion to Buddhism and Other Essays” written by Dr. K.N.Kadam)

4. Dr. John Dewey was born at Burlington, Vermont, on October 20, 1859, third son of the Grocery Merchant Mr. Archibald S. Dewey (Father) and Mrs. Lucina A. Rich Dewey (Mother). He graduated from university of Vermont in 1879 and received Ph D in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in 1884. He was appointed Instructors and assistant Professor of Philosophy at the university of Michigan and remained as such until 1888-1894. Dr. Dewey was head of Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago from 1894 to 1904 and also he was a director of the school of Education for two years of the same Institution a well.

5. He married with Harriet Alice Chipman on Dated 28-7-1886 and has five children of his first marriage also, survive - Frederick A Dewey of New York; Mrs. Evelyn’s smith of Kansas City mo; Mrs. Lucy A. Brandaur of Syracuse New York; Miss Jane U Dewey Of Baltimore and Sabino L. Dewey of Huntington, L.I. and two adopted children. She was one of his students at the University of Michigan. Mrs. Dewey died in 1927. Again, Dr. John Dewey the philosopher married with a window Mrs. Roberta Lowit Grant on December11, 1946. She had been a director of educational travel for Cunard Steamship Company. She was with Dr. John Dewey when he Died of Pneumonia in his home. , New York at 7 O’clock on dated 01-06-1952. He was of 92 years, 7months and 11 Days Old.

6. Dr. John Dewey was acknowledged as America’s foremost philosopher of his time, but however, he was recognized as the father of American Philosophy.

7. Dr. John Dewey was too big a man to be sneered at as an “Armchair Bolshevist”, His convictions were those of an essentially honest man, and although he might well have set back to criticize the general order of things, he took an active part in the attempt to create a third political party, to lend his voice and influence to help the down - trodden, to do away with oppression in America and elsewhere, and to strive a finer universal education. Dr. John Dewey principal achievement was perhaps his Educational Reforms. He was the chief Prophet of Progressive Education. After Twenty years that Movement----- “Learning by doing” - had become a major factor in American education in late thirty of 20th century and in 1941 the New York state Department of education approved a six year experiment in schools embodying the Dewey Philosophy.

8. Dr. John Dewey wrote as a Professor of Philosophy at the university of Michigan in 1893:
“If I were asked to name the most needed of all reforms in the spirit of education I should say: ‘ Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make of it the full meaning of the present life.’ And to add that only in this case does it become truly a preparation for later life is not the paradox it seems. An activity which does not have worth enough to be carried as for its own sake cannot be very effective as a preparation for something else if the new spirit in education forms the habit off requiring that every act be an outlet of the whole self, and it provides the instruments of such complete functioning.”

9. From 1894-1904, Professor Dewey was head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago and for two years he was director of the school of education of the same institution. In years 1904 (24-05-1904) he accepted appointed to lectureship in Psychology at Columbia University and also become professor of Philosophy in the same Columbia University on dated 01-02-1905. Besides his regulars work there Dr. John Dewey taught at Teachers’ College.

10. Dr. John Dewey retired with the title of professor Emeritus on July 1, 1930.

11. He visited several countries including Japan, China, and Russia. The Chinese Government conferred on him the Order of the Jade’ for the contribution he had made to the education and leadership of China. In 1938, Dr. John Dewey was voted by the ‘Aristogenic Society’ as one of the Ten ‘Greatest American’. This honour included the recording of every phase of his life for future generations

12. Dr. John Dewey’s Ninetieth Birthday was celebrated in many universities and by cultural societies in the United Sate of America and abroad. Testimonial dinners and meetings for weeks in the fall of 1949 honoured him, mostly in absentia. Dr. John Dewey did attend one large testimonial dinner at the Commodore Hotel, when an admirer presents him $90,000 dollers to be used worthy educational projects by his choosing. Among notables who sent felicitations were President Truman of America and Prime Minister Attlee of England.

13. In June 1951, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature at Yale University.

14. Dr. John Dewey believes that if democracy were to survive in this country it would require a tremendous reorganization of instruction and administration is the schools. “Democracy”, he maintained, “cannot go forward unless the intelligence of the mass of people is educated to understand the social realties of their own time.”

15. Professor John Dewey constantly urged the cultivation of ‘Independent Thinking’ and he deplored what he termed the “ empty imitation” in America of thought in Europe. He was often heard in public debate on matters of social and political significance.

16. In 1886, his first work,” Psychology” was published. This was followed by Liebnitz’s new Essay Concerning The Human Understanding Critical Theory Of Ethics, School And Society, The Child And The Curriculum, My Pedagogic Creed, Studies In Logical Theory, Moral Principles In Education, How We Think; Democracy And Education, Reconstruction In Philosophy, Human Nature And Conduct, Experience And Nature, The Public And Its Problems, The Quest For Certainly, Individualism: Old And New, Construction And Criticism, A Common Faith, Liberation And Social Action, Logic: The Theory Of Inquiry , Experience And Education , Freedom And Culture, Theory of Valuation, Philosophy and Civilization, Art as Experience, Knowing and Known.

17. Dr. John Dewey retired from teaching at Columbia University in 1930, when he was 70, but he went on writing and lecturing, publishing more than 300 books must have totaled 1000.

18. Why Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar did owe his whole intellectual life to Dr. John Dewey, the one of the greatest Philosopher, Psychologist, Social Critic, Political Activist of America and the thinker of 20th Century?. I quote few from his published Knowledge:

a. “ In sum I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that society is an organic union of individuals. If we eliminate the social Factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction: if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert and lifeless mass. Education, therefore, must begin with a Psychological insight into the child’s capacities, interests, and habits. It must be controlled at every point by reference to these same considerations. These powers, interests and Habits must be continually interpreted- we must know what they mean. They must be translated into terms of there social equivalents- into terms of what they are capable of in the way of social service”. (My Pedagogic Creed -1897.)

b. “ Life is a self- renewing process through action upon the environment. Continuity of life means continual re-adaptations of the environment to the needs of living Organism.”

c. “Individual is a social unit. Education is a fostering, a nurturing, and a cultivating process. The Education is the means of this social continuity of life. Thus education is a social process to reconstruction of Society. It consists primarily in transmission through communication. The communication is a process of sharing experience till it becomes a common possession of the reconstructing Society.”(Democracy And Education - 1916).

d. “Society Exists through a process of transmission quite as biological life. This transmission occurs by means of communications of habits of doing, thinking, and feeling from the older to the new generation. Without this communications of ideals, hopes, expectation, standard and opinions, the social life cannot survive.

e. “So obvious is the necessity of teaching and learning for the continued existence of a society. Thus, education means just a process of leading, bringing up- as shaping, forming, molding activity i.e. a shaping into the standard form of Social Activity.”

f. “The communication Process, which insures participations in a common understanding and deliberate effort, is one which secures similar emotions and intellectual dispositions - like ways of responding to expectations, obligations and requirements.”

g. “The concept of education as a Social Process and Function has no definite meaning until we define the kind of the society. And Social Aim of Education and its National Aim must be identified.”

h. “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.”

i. “ The Democracy is more than a form of government, it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated Experience. These more numerous and more varied points of contact denote a greater diversity to which stimuli to which an Individual has to respond.”

j. A mobile society, which is full of channels for the distribution of change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability. Otherwise, the result will be confusion.”

k. An undesirable society is one which internally and externally sets up barriers to free intercourse and communication of experience.”

l. “A desirable society must have a type of education, which gives individual a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind. Which secure social change without introducing disorder.” A desirable society is one, which makes provision for participants in its good of all its members on equal terms and which through interaction of the different forms of associated life, is in so far Democratic.” (Democracy and Education.)

19. Above Quotes of Dr. John Dewey were used by Dr. Babsaheb Ambedkar frequently in his writings and actions. Let us see what he get inspiration from VIDDHYA BINA MATI GELI-- We lost Emotional Intelligence in absence of the Education. We can define the education in the above context as below: - Education = K I Th = Knowledge + Intelligence + Thinking.

20. Thus, what Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, the father of Social Revolution in India has mentioned about Education, Dr. John Dewey has explained and pleaded for new democratic life all over the world. And Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar has accepted and inculcated in himself. Thus he wrote that I owe my whole intellectual life to Dr. John Dewey.

21. In the golden jubilee year 2002, of his death ceremony, we must remember Dr. John Dewey for its ideals and deeds to fulfill the mission of Social Transformation Movement in India.

22. Lest we Forget Dr. John Dewey in 21st Century. Hence, we remember him in its Values and Spirit.

Pay Back To The Society Programme, Maharashtra State
Ft-5, Sahyadri Terraces, Salunkhe Vihar Road, Kondhwa, PUNE -411048. Ph- 020 - 6835230
Dt: 25-05-2002

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Published on: May 02, 2002
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