John Dewey (1859 - 1944) was convinced that to learn comes from the individual learners' needs, and the learner should be involved in planning, executing, and evaluating activities. Wyett (1998) comments that education differs from many other human endeavors in that it is a common experience. Because almost everyone in the United States has been to school, almost everyone believes that they know what is wrong with schools in America. The result has been that every special interest group in our society has presented its platform for school reform. Virtually without exception, their agenda focuses on improving academic achievement and neglects to address education as a social function. Dewey presented the argument that education was much more than learning fundamental skills and literacy but a process of life and maturation.
According to Wyett (1998), Dewey was not primarily an educator. With the exception of his time at the University of Chicago (for which he is best known) where he served as the Director of the Laboratory School in 1896 and later as Director of the School of Education from 1902 to 1904, his career was that of a philosopher. He was undeniably one of the most important Americans of his time, recognized and honored at home and abroad regardless of the differences or political traits of those providing the admiration. His work is concerned with a variety of fields ranging from psychology to political science and the synthesis of the liberal ideals of philosophers such as Rousseau and Herbert while adding the equally important aspect of practicality or utilitarianism. Once again, according to Wyett (1998), for Dewey, that aspect of "pragmatism implied that education: represents growth in the individual's capacity to deal with situations; is a continuous process and cannot be terminated by the completion of course requirements, promotion, or graduation; and demands self-direction as opposed to authoritarian imposition" (pp.