John DeweyJohn Dewey, (1859-1952) American philosopher, psychologist, professor, and progressive educational reformer.

False John Dewey Quote

“Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent.”

John DeweyJohn Dewey
~ John Dewey

Falsely attributed to Dewey. The quote is from Rosalie Gordon's book 'What Happened to Our Schools?' (1956) where she asserts Dewey's attitude towards progressive education.

Ratings and Comments

Dougmcr8, Springfield, VA

This man, and his brainless, spineless acolytes did more to destroy American indpendence of mind than any other single person in our history.

  • 4
  • Reply
Anonymous    1/8/09

Amen, Douggmcr8! I want Dewey to explain to me just why, in a nation that was founded on the premise of moral INDEPENDENCE, we should be concerned that our "collective society" isn't becoming "interdependent." The only thing history has ever witnessed in an "interdependent" society is Tyranny.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Probably wholly out of context!

  • 3
  • Reply
Anon    1/8/09

This is progressive education? More like regressive education.

jim k, austin

Waffler never dissapoints. This quote is NOT out of context and is totally consistant with Deweys' beliefs. We wouldn't want people thinking for themselves, now would we. That would be dangerous to our socialist state.

Michelle, Chippewa Falls

I thought these were suppose to be "LIBERTY" Quotes?

Bryan Morton, Stuart, Florida

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

jim k, austin

Michelle, these are liberty quotes. Dewey and his gang were not for liberty, only conformity.

E Archer, NYC

This from the architect of the US education system! It's even worse now.

KrlyQ, Irving, TX

Dewey was a Marxist of the highest degree. I read a biography on him and he admired Stalin, of all people. Considering that little fact, and the condition of our public schools thanks to Dewey's influence, this statement does not surprise me at all.

Mike, Norwalk

I was going to try and rate this 100 times with 5 stars each because of the statement's accuracy. I decided to give it a thumbs down because of its application. Elimination of the independent freeman's free, higher, creative, and truly progressive thought by the collective is, and will be suffered far beyond today's heinous results.

warren, olathe

Dewey decimal system. He apparently saw little difference between children and the books on a shelf. This man is responsible in large part for the present public school system. This is the perfect quote to explain how the public education professionals think.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    1/8/09

Wow! we all agree (with the quote that is)

Ken, Allyn, WA

Spoken like a true progressive. It gives me hope that I didn't see rows of little yellow stars following the quote.

Nancy, Lancaster

Typical Dewey garbage!!! It's frightening to know how much influence this man had and continues to have on public education.

Rupert Murdoch, New York

I quite agree. And combining compulsory education with centralised media ownership means that young minds will inevitably be corporate ones.

Hank Smith, Boston

Got a source for this "quote"? Of course not. People who READ what they QUOTE might become critical thinkers in the model Dewey proposed, rather than automatons of a conformist society. Don't believe everything you read.

Anonymous, Dallas

I think everyone needs to read Dewey and not form lazy judgments about his educational philosophy until they do. The books are nuanced, require some previous knowledge--and they will take you a while. Grab some tea (or Starbucks, depending upon your capitalistic sensibilities). Progressive education hasn't worked, 'tis true. That's because it has never been tried. The factory model is in full force--and entrenched by NCLB. This deeply embedded misunderstanding (revealed by the emotion on this board) does not make me angry; it makes me sad. Perhaps the consolidated media should indeed take the blame--for the gross misinformation and lack of understanding here. Shame.

Dallasisright, Cincinnati

some of these responses are more telling of the failures of the education systemthan Dewey's proposed system itself. Are you basing your statements on just this one quick quote, or have most of you actually read any of Dewey's books? Uh, Dewey Decimal System? Sorry, wrong guy.

Christiana, New York

To those of you who think that Dewey's quote is taken out of context, please see these websites: It is not at all in dispute that Dewey was a socialist of the highest rank! In fact, he followed Hitler's statement to the extreme: "Give me control of the textbooks and I shall rule the world!" He was smart enough to know that if children are made to think a certain way while they are young, they will accept it; their brains are like little sponges, and they will believe anything they are taught. In school, children are taught to "express" themselves (which really is an expression of what they were indoctrinated with -- they don't know anything different.). They only see one side of the story; this is why Christianity is not allowed in schools (for the most part) -- if the children could compare things, they would be able to make educated choices for themselves. But since they only see one side of the story, that is what they believe; thus the objective to control the minds of children is being accomplished on a daily basis in schools through multiple means (peer pressure being the most common).

Texas Teacher, Fort Worth

I have read Dewey, and while Dewey did speak of some democracy, he believed in a "progressive" education. And by the way, progressive education is taught everyday in our schools. I'm a teacher and one of the few conservatives. My students really believe government is there to take care of them. I seem to be fighting a losing battle everyday in the classroom when I try to convince my seniors that to depend on government is the easiest way to lose your rights and freedoms.

Elisheva, Quemado

I would like a proper attribution to the quote: which work of Dewey's? Edition and page number are helpful if not required, although to make such a quote in a scholarly work does require them so that others can verify the quote. This is not a matter of agreement or disagreement with Dewey, so much as it is honesty in the attribution.

Elisheva, Quemado

I have done a word search and quotation search through a number of Dewey's works, and several critical editions on Amazon and have not found this quote. That does not mean that it does not exist, it could be from a letter or more obscure work. However, it may be another author's summary of a Dewey idea, which would make it an interpretation, or it may be someone else's quote mistakenly or falsely attributed.

Tigerdawg, Panama City

This quote is the opposite of what Dewey espoused, so it is either a fabrication or was spoken in irony and misrepresented. He founded his educational philosophy on children being allowed to think for themselves.

Joe B, Hinton WV

This is a hoax. The John Dewey Society has done a computer search of every word by John Dewey (1000 books, articles etc) plus his entire correspondence, and he did not say it. An ignorant attacker of Dewey during the McCarthy era may have spoken these or similar words claiming they were Dewey's beliefs, but that is/was false.

Plato, Athens

This "quote" is often linked to another false Dewey quote that is actually the words of Rosalie Gordon (in "What's Happened To Our Schools",1956, available from the John Birch Society bookstore) where she wrote "You can't make socialists out of individualists". She wrote that claiming it was what Dewey thought.

James E. Lockwood, C.Ht, San Jose, CA

It is not out of context! I have seen the entire quote and what he said before and after that segment is just as important and revealing as the part that you read. Near the last day of my senior year in high school I heard one of my teachers absent mindedly say to herself, “Next year everything will be different. It won’t be reading, writing and arithmetic, it will be, how to get along in the world.” Aldous Huxley said in his book, Brave New World Revisited, “How can we have a democracy when twenty percent of the people can be hypnotized in the blink of an eye.” Even Huxley was programmed to use the word democracy instead of republic! Pavlov and other in the field of mind control, have said that conditioned reflexes and hypnosis are the same. In one chapter of the communist textbook on brainwashing they use the word hypnosis 19 times and elsewhere they brag that, “Our enemies will not be able to believe what we can do with ‘our art.’ Here are three statements by Lenin that the mental robots can deny: “The surest way to conquer a nation is to debauch its currency.” “People who believe in communism are useful idiots.” “If you want to control your opposition you must become their leader.” When the communists chant “destroy the Bourgeoisie,“ (the middle-class) the mental robots should get the clue that communism is a tool of the elite world rulers who hate competition. The only two quotes that I have seen by John D. Rockefeller are, “Competition is a sin,” and “Competition is the only sin.”

Joe Bakanovic, Lynn Havenn, FL

I have read Dewey's books. I hold a philosophy degree. I do not find "nuance" in Dewey's work, I find a very disordered mind that has convinced itself that self-contradiction is rational. In several of his works on "education," Dewey claims education is NOT the act of actually coming to know and understand what is, but rather, education is just the process of "trying." Dewey was OK with the student thinking 2+2=5...until the student "learns" it is't true. But Dewey never addresses the need to teach the student 2+2=4 so, if the student goes through life thinking 2+2=5, Dewey has no answer for this. Dewey also says his goal is to create a humanist utopia and that the teacher is the prophet who will usher in this new world order of Man as God. No, anyone who UNDERSTANDS Dewey is revolted by him - or sees him as an ally in exercising control over all of society. In short, the man was evil and we are paying the price for those who embraced his ideology and method.

ubtaught, Hudson, MA

I have seen too many 'quotes' proven to be incorrect. Assuming this quote is properly attributed to Dr. Dewey (I would like to know where this one is from so I can read the rest) let me say this is an excellent quote. Any time your enemy makes it clear who and what he or she is that is a good day.

Anthony Barcellos, Davis, CA

Clearly a fake quote. No one can give attribution because Dewey never said it or wrote it.

Anonymous, Chicago, IL

It is from the Humanist Manifesto (the first version, in 1933) which Dewey signed.

Editor, Liberty Quotes

@Anonymous, Chicago - the quote does not appear in any of the three Humanist Manifestos of 1933, 1973, or 2003.

Bookworm, Boston

What inspires extreme right wing groups to intentionally misattribute quotes or outright invent then? Is the truth not enough to support their sociopolitical and -economic views?

Editor, Liberty Quotes

@Bookworm, we can only assume that you are a left-wing extremist by the aspersions you cast. It might behoove you to read the TOP of the page - FALSE John Dewey quote. Is that left-wing enough for you? How about reading the source information listed instead of making insinuations -- you only reveal your own prejudices (i.e. pre-judgment).

Ed Darrell, Dallas, Texas

The famous quote-fabricator John A. Stormer may have been the one who invented this quote, in about 1998. The language is not the language of Dewey. Doesn't sound like him, and it runs exactly contrary to many things Dewey did write or say.


Ed Darrell, Dallas, Texas

Oops. I see you've already traced it to 1956. Good work!

don duncan, henderson, nv

Dewey defined his model citizen as one who obeys authority with a zealous dedication to servitude. His legacy lives on in our public schools where thinking is discouraged. Few survive intellectually.

Consensus, group think, democracy as the moral, political goal makes tyranny possible. It destroys the individual and the culture.

Rich Rochester, Hickory, NC

Here is another site where the author has made an attempt to verify this quote. It appears to be an intelligent and sober attempt to find truth: I too do not like to be led down a rosy path by either side. Truth has no agenda.

The author at this site does include quotes by Dewey, with sources, which do not comport with the quote in question.

Sophia Westwood, LA

Not a quote by Dewey

  • Reply
    Lothen    12/20/19

    It is incorrect to say this quote is quote is from Rosalie Gordon's 'What Happened to Our Schools?' (1956).  This quote does not appear anywhere in that pamphlet. (A copy can be found at  @Plato, Athens, above suggested this quote is "often linked" to a completely different phrase that does appear in 'What Happened to Our Schools.' But the words in this quote simply aren't there.


    Get a Quote-a-Day!

    Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.