Talk:John Dewey quote

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"I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living."
-John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed (1897)


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  • "I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.
  • I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
  • I believe that the school must represent present life - life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground.
  • I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, forms that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden."

(emphasis added)

-John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed (1897)

Source(s): John Dewey quote

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"Since education is not a means to living, but is identical with the operation of living a life which is fruitful and inherently significant, the only ultimate value which can be set up is just the process of living itself. And this is not an end to which studies and activities are subordinate means; it is the whole of which they are ingredients."
-John Dewey, Democracy and Education (1916)


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I think that the distinction made by the mind, of the past present and future, is an illusion created by the brain, with it's limited capacitys and functional connections.....But I will say that if Donald Trump failed to use his education to plan for the future, he would have never became a Billionaire....point in case....--Gaon Abhinava 14:48, 26 July 2011 (UTC)Reply

Furthermore, The Present, is just a Millisecond line that seperates the Future from the Past, any Education that Humans attain within their brief experience on earth, could and should, be Used for Future use, if they were wisely inventive, or thoughtfull of Future generations--Gaon Abhinava 03:23, 30 August 2011 (UTC)Reply

I think the second quote above ("Since education is not a means to living...") is too long for a quote of the day, unless we are to allocate the QOTD more space on the Main Page. Perhaps, then, we should think about utilising some of the other space currently not being used on the Main page for the QOTD? Cormaggio talk 19:00, 28 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

I included the second quote on this page for that very reason. On the main page we have the short quote with a link to this page, and then people can read and comment on the ideas. See also Victor Hugo quote which includes the entire paragraph from the book where the quote came from. I hope that the discusisons here will include more than just the question of putting quotes on the main page and go into the ideas behind the quote. --mikeu talk 19:10, 28 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
Very good. I've left a comment on Victor Hugo quote too. Cormaggio talk 19:19, 28 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
Quite obviously education is a preparation for future living so that cannot possibly be what he meant. He could be referring to  future  living instead, which could be re-interpreted as a reference to the necessity of citizenship education. He could also mean to say that education should allow living and not replace it, which could in turn mean that children need a life outside education and that preparing for life (education) requires (learning) experiences that happen outside the classroom (or curriculum). It could also be interpreted as a garbled reference to lifelong learning. Very concise, if that's all in this quote. --Fasten 09:29, 1 April 2008 (UTC)Reply
And it could, of course, also be interpreted to mean that "living is the process of education for a life after death". --Fasten 09:32, 1 April 2008 (UTC)Reply

I think it would be reductive to say it has only one meaning, it's rather better to see it having different layers. For me, it is a quote that challenges the falsely perceived notion that education is about getting a certificate, a diploma or a degree and then that's it, you can get a good job and you're sorted for life. Education goes beyond that, it is not a means to an end but rather an end in itself. Dewey is saying, and I agree with this, that learning is something which pervades all your existence, it happens all of the time if you just open your eyes and your mind to it. It is about living in the here and now, not thinking about some distant future. What is the concept of future anyway? If we are open to the possibility of learning in each and every moment and if we are prepared to learn from anyone or anything, then we have education. Otherwise, it's just a surrogate.

Kevmol 24 June 2008

I have to state that we, as individuals, need to understand that education is a tree that has its roots and branches. Our purpose is to strengthen its roots so that it can have a better foundation and it can grow more branches and leaves. The way we strengthen its roots is by not just watering it or providing organic material, it is also essential to have a ground where it can survive and prosper. I feel, the present system of education is not giving much space for this tree to spread its branches or ground to deepen the roots.

Hitesh 30 December 2008

There isn't that much to this quote. Why are you guys going through so much trouble to say nothing at all? John Dewey was not a poet, he was an American Pragmatist. What is so hard to understand about this quote, then? It is what it is. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:41, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Agreed, Though it is interestingly funny... that different Minds can extract different Knowledge from John Dewey's ... Seventeen ( 17 ) word Quote.--Gaon Abhinava 21:59, 30 August 2011 (UTC)Reply

Taking John Dewey out of context with just a one-line quote is in itself a failure to understand the philosophy he was attempting to communicate. I am reading Democracy and Education currently and the ideas are interconnected and built upon each other. My interpretation as an educator is that we should not, but we do, see the institution of schools or the process of education as something that is meant only to force children into a mold that we have pre-defined. To explain it short, seeing education as only a means to a future end is like saying that your job is just a way to get a pension. Your job is, hopefully, a meaningful end in itself, the future goals such as a pension and retirement are not your main motivators for being there, because we humans inherently live in the present. The same with students in school. Defining the purpose of education to be some future goal, such as certain knowledge or skills or even the capacity to be good citizens, is a failure to comprehend that students are first and foremost people, and as such they live in the present. The activities and contents of education must have meaning for them not only in the future, but also in the present. Therefore, it is the failure of the educator, not the educated when students ask "What is the purpose of this"?

"I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living."

Education is life on many levels, both on the individual level of always adapting and learning, but also on the institutional level. In schools, education should be considered a meaningful part of the students' existence, not as a chore or a preparation for some future event. It is the fault of adults that we assume that the goal of students is to be like us, but we fail to neglect that adulthood in most cases did not come from just education (if at all in some cases), but from our own desires to self-improve, to be respected among our peers, to understand and develop. I could go on for a dozen pages.

John October 10th 2012

John's paraphrase of Dewey's quote captures my interpretation very well: "In schools, education should be considered a meaningful part of the students' existence, not as a chore or a preparation for some future event." I take this quote to be primarily about schools rather than learning in general. It relates to the constructivist theory of education (which I admittedly only somewhat understand) that learning is a process of building on what one already knows, such as knowledge gained through one's living circumstances, and that students learn best when they have some independence and ownership over what they learn. So, effective teaching must naturally extend from the learners' daily experience -- it must be relevant and meaningful to students in the present. To me, this ideal seems easier to achieve when teaching humanities and social sciences rather than hard sciences, but that's probably because I primarily study/teach humanities and social sciences.

This quote also seems to have inspired the liberatory popular education philosophies of Paolo Freire and Myles Horton, but that connection should be fact-checked. Dewey did certainly influence the radical experimental school, Black Mountain College (BMC), for which he was an advisor and admirer. BMC did away with grades, made each student's education entirely self-guided, and envisioned education as a constant activity that only partially occurred in classrooms.

This quote actually reminds me of a quote I've heard attributed to Roger Waters of the band Pink Floyd: something along the lines of "I was always waiting for 'real life' to begin until I realized that I had been living it all along." Kopkinzs (discusscontribs) 05:57, 26 December 2017 (UTC)Reply