Can John Dewey’s experiments at the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School teach contemporary inquirers about “learning by making?” This article warrants an affirmative answer to this query. Unlike intellectual historians who trace the source of Dewey’s and his colleagues’ 1890s pedagogies to their cultural biases, we contend that these experiments were substantially conditioned by pragmatic kinds of insights. Specifically, we argue that Dewey’s inquiries into own his children’s language development influenced the development of his early educational experiments as well as his later pragmatic communicative philosophy. On this view, the Laboratory School experiments anticipate Dewey’s later thinking about communication. If so, rather than embarrassing educational pragmatists, Dewey’s and his colleagues’ work in the Laboratory School might offer new starting points for thinking about pragmatic education.

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