Noted Philosopher, Academic, and Educator John Dewey developed a unique perspective in regards to the concepts of life and the philosophy of learning.

John Dewey believed there was a strong correlation between philosophy and education. He was also a strong proponent of continual education though not always through traditional means.

For anyone who is currently attaining a traditional education, through college, for example, there are going to be times when you find yourself simply going through the motions. It is important, however, not solely for your current educational pursuits but also for a well-lived life, to not allow yourself such apathy.

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

This is a strong statement that every student, moreover every human, should always rely on. Dewey would not foster the idea of gaining an education briefly to enhance one’s career or monetary worth.

Instead, the goal should be one of the constant educational gains throughout one’s life. He understood that success should not solely be measured according to who has the most.

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

As a student, there is only one way to find what you are best suited to, and that is to learn about your field of choice. Dewey believed that no matter how much wealth a person accrued, they could not truly have happiness unless they were pursuing a career that met their needs on the whole.

However, you cannot simply learn about your field through mimicry, you must throw your entire being into the pursuit of this education and subsequent career. There is no room for doing these things in halves.

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

This thought is one that all students should remember throughout their lives. The things we learn at a certain age may seem to be the most important lessons we will ever learn, yet as we grow older and wiser, Dewey understood that certain lessons really held more value than others.

Yet another reason why it is so important to pursue a lifelong education.

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

The concept of continuous education is not solely limited to the ideas you can learn from books and experts. Dewey understood that often we have the means to be our own educator, especially if we have the modesty and ability to learn from our mistakes.

As children we learn by doing, sometimes it does not always work out the way we would like, but we persevere. In many adults that ability to bounce back from a mistake can be more difficult to accomplish.

Dewey would insist that instead of fearing failure, we should have the bravery to learn from our failures. You are often your own best teacher.

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

If we are but a mold of clay constantly being shaped throughout our lives, what are the influences we will allow to do this sculpting? Will we idly sit as a bystander letting outside forces dictate how we are molded? Or will we follow Dewey’s example and choose to keep educating ourselves?

He would insist that you take a constant and active role in furthering your own education, therefore living a self-determined and fulfilled life.

“Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”

While you are studying to take on a career in your given field, always remember that attaining a degree is not the end of your journey. To close one’s mind off from further education, after merely adding the title of a degree to one’s name, will not lead to lifelong happiness. Inevitably, if you are unhappy, how can you even begin to quantify your success?

Though some of the quotes above are well over a century old, they are still incredibly applicable to today’s society. The sheer fact that Dewey had these bits of wisdom to share further illustrates how progressive he truly was, and why he continues to garner such admiration. His continual education led to his tremendous success.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Matt Kim

    Great post. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Einstein: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

    Learning really is a lifelong habit that can only improve a person’s quality of life, like exercise, a good diet, and fulfilling relationships. I hope people begin to understand more how fundamental continual learning is.

  2. Lan Tra

    Hi Amy thanks for this nice post, I learn something from it.

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