Dewey's conception of vocation: Existential, aesthetic, and educational implications for teachers

Christopher Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I offer a close reconstruction of John Dewey's account of vocation in Democracy and Education, bringing out the existential and aesthetic dimensions of Dewey's idea that vocations constitute perceptual environments for their practitioners. Although Dewey offers this idea to teachers only as an insight about student development, I contend that its most powerful educational implication concerns the growth of teachers. Picking up where Dewey left off, I investigate to what extent teaching constitutes an educative environment for teachers. I conclude that, while the environment of teaching is an exceedingly rich one, the basic working conditions of teachers and the ethos of education often frustrate their attempts to interact with this environment. I conclude with a critique of some of the forces that narrow the range of what teachers notice, feel, and learn in the course of their work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-464
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • John Dewey
  • Quality of working life
  • Teacher welfare
  • Teaching (occupation)
  • Teaching conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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