John Dewey on “Life”

This quote from Democracy and Education got me thinking about this blog:

We have been speaking of life in its lowest terms – as a physical thing. But we use the word “life” to denote the whole range of experience, individual and racial. When we see a book called the Life of Lincoln we do not expect to find within its covers a treatise on physiology. We look for an account of social antecedents; a description of early surroundings, of the conditions and occupation of the family; of the chief episodes in the development of character; of signal struggles and achievements; of the individual’s hopes, tastes, joys, and sufferings. In precisely similar fashion we speak of the life of a savage tribe, of the Athenian people, of the American nation. “Life” covers customs, institutions, beliefs, victories, and defeats, recreations and occupations. (p. 2)

This is part of what I mean when I say “and Life” here. Educational technology, and education for that matter, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, separately from a culture and all the “and Life” that comes with it. I also mean things like the trees outside the window where I write and the amazing picture of wine country in Sonoma you find in the blogs’ header… and the time I enjoy making home made fish and chips with my wife when we’ve both got the week off work. :)

The more we can remember that our students (and coworkers) are fully rounded multifaceted human beings, the better we can serve them (and work with them). And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to let them know that we are, too.


Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. New York: Simon & Shuster.

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