Educators Paper


Group Members Roles Commented On
Vashon Broadnax Dewey
Katie Lowe Dix (background, perspectives, impact)  Group 1
Robert Mphepo Dix (profile, contribution, implications)  Group 1
Lexi Rodebeck Dewey  Group 2 & 4

Adult Educator – John Dewey


John Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont on October 20, 1859. He began his college studies at the University of Vermont. This is where he began thinking of natural selection and the importance of interaction between human nature and their surrounding environment (Field, 2005). This theory began to have a life-long impact upon Dewey’s thoughts and the development of his ideas.  

After graduating, he began teaching high school, which is where his idea of a career in philosophy took hold. He sent a philosophical essay to the most prominent philosophical editor at this time. It gave him the satisfaction and confirmation he needed of his promise as a philosopher (Field, 2005). Shortly after he traveled to Baltimore to John Hopkins University to enroll as a graduate student (Field, 2005).  Upon obtaining his doctorate in 1884, Dewey then accepted a teaching job at the University of Michigan with the exception of spending one term at the University of Minnesota (Field, 2005). In Michigan he wrote his first two books: Psychology in 1887 and Leibniz’s New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding in 1888 (Field, 2005). Both works stated Dewey’s earlier assurance to Hegelian idealism, while Psychology explored the combination between this idealism and experimental science (Field, 2005).

After spending 10 years at the University of Michigan, Dewey then went to the University of Chicago (Field, 2005). This is where he began to expand his early commitment to the theory of knowledge that was in cohort with the new development in American school of thought known as pragmatism. Parents became interested in obtaining different type of education for their children. With their aid, Dewey founded and directed a laboratory school at Chicago, where he was presented with an opportunity to apply his developing ideas on pedagogical method. This experience provided the material for his first major work on education, The School and Society in 1899 (Field, 2005). While away lecturing, the president of the University merged the Laboratory School with The Chicago Institute. The Institute was a training school for teachers, which had a practice school for children. The merger made no provisions for maintaining the type of work that had been done or for the teachers who had devoted their service to the school. Due to many indifferent attitudes over the existence of the school and disagreements over administration, Dewey resignation from his post at the laboratory school in Chicago in 1904 (Dewey, 1939). With his philosophical reputation now secured, he was quickly invited to join the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University, where he spent the rest of his professional career.

Experiential learning was where Dewey flourished. He realized that America was rapidly evolving from an agricultural society to one dominated by industrial technology (Chambliss, 1996). He knew that the education system must reflect this change. He taught and lectured that experiential education is a process that occurs between a teacher and student that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content. To him, students came to school to live in a community and do hands-on things. He believed they should be involved in real-life tasks and challenges. Dewey knew that those who engage in hands-on activities are able to reflect better on the activity, learn from it, and then develop a better sense of understanding and meaning. Education, according to Dewey, is evolutionary in that it is an ongoing experiment in which the teacher leads the student to discover ways in which he or she can actively adjust to certain circumstances and opportunities (Chambliss, 1996). Dewey used the term “experience,” throughout his philosophical writings, to denote the broad context of the human organism’s interrelationship with its environment, not the domain of human thought alone (Field, 2005).
RTEmagicC_Experiential_Learning_Model.jpg               (Kolb,1994)

Adult Educator – Dorothea Lynde Dix


The 1800’s served as a timeline of hardship and determination. With the War of 1812, The Missouri Compromise, Underground Railroad, Civil War, and the beginning of the Great Depression much hope was lost during this century. We experience the discouragement of education for both women and slaves, as both had limited rights. In 1868, the New England Women’s Club was founded, which provided an opportunity for women to engage in discussions about art, literature, education and philanthropic endeavors. The 15th Amendment is rectified giving blacks the right to vote, but not women, in 1870; and at the 43rd congress, in 1873, seven black members were present. Dorothea Dix dedicated her life to giving and helping those who could not help themselves. Her method of informal education was to be hands-on, in the field, actively making a difference and fighting for the rights of others.

Dorothea Lynde Dix was born in Hampden, Maine on April 4th 1802. Her parents were both alcoholics, and her father was abusive towards her mother (Parry 2006). In 1814, Dix moved to Boston to live with her grandparents; her grandfather, Dr. Elijah Dix, a prominent Boston surgeon, and grandmother, Dorothy (Lynde) Dix, a school teacher by profession. At the early age of 13 years old Dix established an elementary school, within the house she was living, due to her grandmother’s influence. She later established a secondary school in her own house because of her love of education and willingness to teach others. In 1836 she travelled to England for due to health problems, and while she was there she was connected to members of the Lunacy Reform Movement who were advocating for the humane treatment of  the mentally ill (Parry 2006).

When she returned to the United States, she made it her mission to advocate for the mentally ill and also humane treatment of prisoners. When her grandmother died she inherited her wealth which enabled her to support herself and dedicated her life to reform and charitable work.

Dix was an advocate. She put her time and efforts into providing a better future for others; both within the areas of mental health and women’s education (Reiboldt & Mallers, 2014). In March 1841, Dix taught a Sunday school class for women in an East Cambridge jail. What she experienced within the jail was the driving factor to her activism. Dix secured a court order to provide heat and to make other improvements (McMillen, 2005). Her experience prompted her to begin looking into the conditions in Massachusetts jails and almshouses; after her investigation Dix provided detailed reports of her findings to the state lawmakers in 1843.

Dix had a strong desire for knowledge that helped establish the pattern of her work, and activism. Her diligent work was part of the Age of Reform in American history, which informed politicians that people with mental illness would best be served in safe, clean, therapeutic settings with access to books, music, recreation and work (McMillen, 2005). Although improvements were made, funding and overcrowding has since changed many facilities.

Dix helped with the establishment of mental hospitals across the United States of America; in the states Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Smark 2008). As social reformer she worked for the equal rights for the mentally ill. She exposed the abuse that mentally ill suffered through across the country; for example being caged like animals, beaten with metal rods, and being chained. According to Smark, Dix lobbied state legislators in different states because it was at the state government level which were responsible for funding mental hospital (2008).

As an educator she trained and educated the nurses that were taking care of the Union Soldiers, she was later appointed superintendent for the nurses by the Union Army and she set guidelines for nurse candidates. She implemented the federal army nursing program, in which 3,000 women would eventually serve. This program provided care for everyone whether they were from the Union Army or Confederate Army, this idea has been adopted today in many hospitals ;treatment for everyone whether they can afford to pay for treatment or not.

She challenged the status quo even though women were not allowed to vote or participate in politics. Smark explains that, Dix grew up in a time where educating women was considered less important and unfeminine (2008). She did most of her work pro-bono; it’s the method in which she projected her activism that engulfs Dix as an informal educator. Her work is responsible for the birth of institutional care and government care for the mentally ill. The institutions resulted in clinically structured and safe environment to provide treatment and supervision of mentally ill patients. She challenged doctors during the Civil War to consider women to work within the nursing field; as a result today in this country, and other countries, women dominate the nursing field.


Chambliss, J. J. (1996). Philosophy of Education: an Encyclopedia. Garland Press.

Dewey, J. [edited by Jane, M. Dewey] (1939). The Philosophy of John Dewey. New York: Tudor Publishing Co.

Health Reformer. The Business Renaissance Quarterly, pp, 151-170.

Field, R. (2005). John Dewey. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (April 2001 ed.). Retrieved from

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

McMillen, S. (2005). Dix, dorothea

Parry, M.S. (2006) Dorothea Dix (1802-1887). American Journal of Public Health,     622-625.

Reiboldt, W., & Mallers, M. H. (2014). Consumer survival: an encyclopedia of consumer rights, safety, and protection. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Smark, C. (2008, June, 2). Remembering Dorothea “ Dragon” Dix-Nineteenth Century   Mental


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