John Dewey lived and worked in an environment where the manual training movement was ever-present. For Dewey his own unique version of manual training is labeled occupations. Nevertheless, over the years what Dewey meant by occupations has been either misinterpreted or ignored for a plethora of reasons. This manual training climate that Dewey was a part of was dominant and Dewey could not and did not ignore it. He did transform it. Later on published sources use Dewey’s notion of occupations and in many cases misinterpret what he meant by occupations as a method. Finally what Dewey actually says about occupations is found in his Early Works and Middle Works. This analysis of what Dewey means by occupations, seeing its complexity, value, and thereby seeing its distinction from vocational education gives clarity to what Dewey believed about occupations but also shows its value for teaching and learning in schools today. Finally, a part of the confusion of Dewey’s notion of occupations may be found in the various ways Dewey employed the term.

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