Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:  Why is the Center for Dewey Studies (and John Dewey's papers) located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale?

A:  The "History of the Center" page on this website explains the development of the Center and the donation of the John Dewey Papers from the John Dewey Foundation to SIU.


Q: Does the Center for Dewey Studies offer courses or provide funding?

A: Unfortunately, not at this time.


Q: Did John Dewey create the Dewey Decimal system?

A: No. That was Melvil Dewey.


Q: Where can I read more about Dewey's theories of education?

A: You might wish to consult Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia, edited by J. J. Chambliss, published by Garland Press, 1996, pp. 146-153. 




Q: Does the Center for Dewey Studies house all of John Dewey's Papers?

A: The Center for Dewey Studies is a research and editorial center, not an archive of original materials. Special Collections Research Center of Morris Library houses original documents pertaining to Dewey’s life and work. The Center houses copies of many of those documents.


Q:  How do I find photos of Dewey?


A:  Special Collections Research Center at Morris Library holds all the original photographs from the Dewey Collection. In this collection are portraits as well as family photographs. Please contact Special Collections for access to this material.


Q: How do I cite the Collected Works of John Dewey?


A: Standard references to John Dewey's work are to the critical (print) edition, The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953, edited by Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969-1991), and published in three series as The Early Works (EW), The Middle Works (MW) and The Later Works (LW). These designations are followed by volume and page number. "LW 1.14," for example, refers to The Later Works, volume 1, page 14. In order to ensure uniform citations of the critical edition, the pagination of the print edition has been preserved in The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953: The Electronic Edition, edited by Larry A. Hickman (Charlottesville, Virginia: InteLex Corp., 1996).

Sample Citation:

The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1991), LW 14:311.



Q: Does the phrase “learning by doing” appear in Dewey’s published work?


A: Good question. In Schools of Tomorrow it appears on MW.8.255, 257, 258, 261, 265, 286, and 391. In some of those instances, the phrase appears in quotes. The phrase also appears in Democracy and Education, MW 9.192. There is also discussion of the meaning of the phrase in the introductions to those volumes.


Q:  Did Dewey ever say "Education is not a preparation for life but life itself"?

A:  In his essay "Self-Realization as the Moral Ideal" (Early Works 4:50) Dewey writes, "...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 it the full meaning of the present life.'"

From "Educational Lectures before Brigham Young Academy, 2. Social Aspects of Education" (Later Works 17:226): "An acquaintance with the history of educational theory shows that there have been two explanations of the purpose and nature of education. One of these ideas is the social idea. The definition which it offers is that education is the preparation for the social position of life, the preparation of the individual to play his proper part in the community or state of which he is a member."