John Dewey (1859–1952) founded the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago in 1896. Dewey had come to the university in 1894 from the University of Michigan to be head of the combined departments of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy. His responsibilities included organizing and administering an experimental school. The school, which opened in 1896, was intended to be a laboratory for pedagogy and educational experimentation in much the same way a laboratory is used for physics or chemistry. As such, according to Dewey, it had two main purposes: “(1) to exhibit, test, verify and criticize theoretical statements and principles; (2) to add to the sum of facts and principles in its special line.”

At the Laboratory School, Dewey tested his progressive theory of education. Drawing on ...

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