The Education of John Dewey

A Biography

Jay Martin

Columbia University Press

The Education of John Dewey

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Pub Date: January 2003

ISBN: 9780231116763

592 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.00

Pub Date: January 2003

ISBN: 9780231507455

592 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.00

The Education of John Dewey

A Biography

Jay Martin

Columbia University Press

During John Dewey's lifetime (1859-1952), one public opinion poll after another revealed that he was esteemed to be one of the ten most important thinkers in American history. His body of thought, conventionally identified by the shorthand word "Pragmatism," has been the distinctive American philosophy of the last fifty years. His work on education is famous worldwide and is still influential today, anticipating as it did the ascendance in contemporary American pedagogy of multiculturalism and independent thinking. His University of Chicago Laboratory School (founded in 1896) thrives still and is a model for schools worldwide, especially in emerging democracies. But how was this lifetime of thought enmeshed in Dewey's emotional experience, in his joys and sorrows as son and brother, husband and father, and in his political activism and spirituality? Acclaimed biographer Jay Martin recaptures the unity of Dewey's life and work, tracing important themes through the philosopher's childhood years, family history, religious experience, and influential friendships.

Based on original sources, notably the vast collection of unpublished papers in the Center for Dewey Studies, this book tells the full story, for the first time, of the life and times of the eminent American philosopher, pragmatist, education reformer, and man of letters. In particular, The Education of John Dewey highlights the importance of the women in Dewey's life, especially his mother, wife, and daughters, but also others, including the reformer Jane Addams and the novelist Anzia Yezierska. A fitting tribute to a master thinker, Martin has rendered a tour de force portrait of a philosopher and social activist in full, seamlessly reintegrating Dewey's thought into both his personal life and the broader historical themes of his time.

Martin's biography is a good, well-paced read.

Richard Rorty, New York Times Book Review

This will be the new standard biography of the great reformer's life.

Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

Sturdy, thoughtful... solid overall.

Kirkus Reviews

Truly terrific...clearly comprehensive; it is the definitive biography of John Dewey.

Jo Ann Boydston

The major and minor facts of Dewey's long life... are engagingly presented. In addition, Martin has done a good job of researching some pertinent information about Dewey's life not found in the only other detailed biography.... Recommended.

Library Journal

Martin's readable style and instinct for apt quotation—many new even to Dewey scholars—keeps his information flowing... The Education of John Dewey most pleases as an epic tale of an immortal multitasker, told with just the right mix of philosophical explanation, personal drama and historical context.

Carlin Romano, Knight Ridder Newspapers

Martin [has] written [an] excellent new biography... [that] aims to represent Dewey as an individual who was a thinker and reformer of international public influence... Martin's book will interest anyone seeking a personal biography of Dewey... Highly recommended.


Jay Martin's biography puts living flesh on the bones of Dewey scholarship. Drawing on a trove of previously unavailable material, he gives his readers a Dewey engaged not just with ideas, but with a full range of feeling. With this important work, our understanding of Dewey and his milieu takes a giant leap forward.

Larry A. Hickman, The Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University at Carbonale

Martin's biography is carved out of fresh wood.... Classical American philosophy, which held such sway in the cultural birth of this country in the post-Civil War decades, is making a comeback, and Martin's biography tells the story of perhaps its most distinguished representative.

Roger Ames, University of Hawaii

Jay Martin has given us a John Dewey with a passion for education and a passion for democracy,a man with an open spirit, not only for America, but also for the changes that swept China andRussia in the earliest decades of the twentieth century, a man who avoided academic inflation,grandstanding, and oratorical excess, a man with a passion above all for plainness and decency, theHarry Truman of American thinkers. Not only Dewey's thought, but his life was democratic, as JayMartin shows in this fine new psychologically revealing biography. A splendid achievement.

Robert D Richardson, author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on


Book I: Emergence
The Christian Influence
The Beginning of John Dewey's Education
A Career in Teaching?
Or a Career in Philosophy?
Dewey's Philosophic Influences
Becoming a Philosopher
Finding Both a Philosophic Niche and a Job
Dewey in Love
Dewey's Philosophy Expands
Dewey's Reputation Builds
Fred Dewey
To Minnesota and Back to Michigan
Writing About Ethics
A Utopian Deception
Family Life
Harper and the University of Chicago
Book II: Experience
Wealth and Poverty
Evelyn Dewey
Another Kind of Education
Morris Dewey
Overworking at the University of Chicago
More Publications
Progressive Education
The Lab School
Lucy Dewey
Jane Dewey
Columbia Comes to the Rescue
Back to Europe
Starting Over
The Gorky Affair
Five Arcs of Activities
More Publications
Dewey's Teaching Style
New Restrictions
The Aftermath
The Polish Project
Alexander's Influence on Dewey
A Philadelphia Story
Dewey's Interest in Poland
Book III: Engagement
Alice's Depression
On to Japan
China and "New Culture''
No League and No War
Sabino Dewey
Idealism Corrupted
Now to Turkey
Then to Mexico
Losing Alice
Dewey Among the Soviets
Three More Books
The Gifford Lectures
Enjoying Life Again
Dewey Turns Seventy
The Stock Market Crash and Its Aftermath
Dewey's Political Philosophy
Dewey's Interest in the Arts
The Last Educational Mission
Leon Trotsky
Dewey's Logic
Dewey and Valuation
Dewey's Eightieth Birthday Celebration
Education and Freedom
Bertrand Russell
More Controversies
Dewey's Views of Education
After the War
John and Roberta
The Last Birthday Celebration
The End
Last Words

About the Author

Jay Martin has written and edited twenty-one books, including authoritative biographies of Nathanael West, Henry Miller and Conrad Aiken; the standard history of American literature 1865-1914; a key psychoanalytic work on "fictive personality"; and autobiographical novels about the U.S.S.R. and the time he spent as a Buddhist monk in China. Formerly Leo S. Bing Professor of English at the University of Southern California, he is currently Edward S. Gould Professor of Humanities, former director of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies of the Modern World, professor of government, and founder of the Questions of Civilization Program at Claremont McKenna College. He lives in Claremont, CA.