Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Ken Badley

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary Tiffin

Third Advisor

Dr. David Barash


John Dewey was one of the first philosophers who intentionally used the principles of evolution to produce his perspective. He was also the foremost educational theorist of a generation. In both fields, he was a pragmatist, and he sought to lay waste to the dualisms that prevented progress. It is therefore ironic that he erected an artificial wall between the evolutionary thought that pervaded his writings on philosophy, psychology, and even art, and his works on education. I argue in this dissertation that the true power of Dewey would come through the synthesis of his evolutionary and educational thoughts. Using Dewey’s works and the trajectory of his career as a template, I identify three key problems in education that Dewey needed to solve for his vision of education to align with his evolutionary philosophy. The first problem is that of the separation between subject and method, the second is from where education’s direction should derive, and the third seeks to achieve balance between the concrete and abstract knowledge that is taught in the classroom. Following Dewey’s model of using various disciplines to inform his reasoning, I draw upon research in fields that include cognitive ethology, neuroscience, anthropology, and archaeology in my quest solve Dewey’s aforementioned problems. In the dissertation’s final chapter, I conclude that the vehicle for the success of Dewey’s evolutionary educational philosophy will be a classroom suffused with art and science, or more broadly, invention and inquiry. This conclusion aligns with some of the recent movements in education, and that provides me with hope. It is time for John Dewey to be revisited. We need the change in education to be not just about a revolution, but also about evolution.

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