Topics in the News
American Universities and World War I
Faculties Support Allies.
By 1917, when the United States finally intervened in the First World War, most American professors had long favored the Allied powers, primarily because the professors identified with England, but also because most of them saw the war as a genuine contest between good and evil. When President Woodrow Wilson and Congress declared war against the Central Powers, the widespread support from college professors was so enthusiastic that the New Republic editors in 1917 labeled the conflict "the thinking man's war" and remarked that "College professors, headed by a President who himself is a former professor, contributed more effectively to the decision to go to war than did farmers, businessmen, or politicians."
Contributions to the War Effort.
Professors from all disciplines contributed to the American war effort. At Harvard emerging star chemistry scholar James Conant worked energetically to produce poison gas as well as the gas masks to ward it off. Academics in the social sciences and history were especially eager to serve. When in 1917 the editor of the National History Review, Franklin Jameson, organized the National Board for Historical Service, historians across the country wrote that they would "do anything and go anywhere to help the cause." These history professors helped shape public opinion...
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Emergence of the Modern University
The Elective System.
When streams of new students entered American colleges early in the century, they found most colleges in a state of disarray and poorly prepared to educate them. This situation was partially because of a fragmentation in the existing curricula. In the first years of the twentieth century, most colleges and universities had established an elective curriculum. Although Harvard was not the inventor of this system, the university, under the leadership of Charles W. Eliot, had become its chief proponent. Under the elective system students (even freshmen) had been free to study any courses they wanted, and their options had expanded exponentially. Old courses of study had been subdivided into many subjects, and new courses were added to the curriculum. Under the spectacular advances of science, for example, the old courses in natural philosophy were replaced by the whole range of sciences, just as old courses in political economy were subdivided into many different social sciences. These new fields allowed students to learn subjects in a way that was impossible in the old curriculum. However, there were no guarantees that students would choose wisely from the scores of elective choices, and, indeed, the majority of students took the easy and elementary courses, the popular lectures, the classes scheduled at convenient hours. As the example of Harvard's elective system spread...
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Ideals of Progressive Education
Origins of Progressive Education.
The term progressive education refers to a diverse group of theories and practices that developed in Europe and the United States during the late nineteenth century. The movement's theory was not derived from any single source but from various beliefs united only in their opposition to traditional schooling and their support for schooling that was concerned with the emotional and physical well-being of the child. The principal forerunner of progressive education in the United States was Francis Parker, who opened several schools in the 1880s and 1890s, featuring a flexible curriculum that included self-expression and claimed to teach pupils rather than subjects. John Dewey, a philosopher whose books on educational method provided intellectual foundations for the progressive education movement, was largely responsible for popularizing this new approach to teaching and learning. William Heard Kilpatrick, faculty member of Teachers College, Columbia University, helped make that institution an important center for the dissemination of progressive ideas during his tenure (1909-1930).
Progressive Education Association.
In 1919 educators gathering in Washington, D.C., furthered the cause of progressive education by founding the Progressive Education Association. An early leaflet of the organization, by...
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Intelligence Testing and Statistics
Statistical Analysis.Education administrators collected data for decades before any general attempt was made to state what truths were revealed by their columns of figures; most superintendents counted children, income, expenditures, attendance, and passes and failures annually mainly to have a collection of official statistics. However, in the early twentieth century various mathematicians
A New Discipline.
In the United States, Edward Thorndike became a leading proponent of the statistical measurement of social and economic facts, and he offered in 1902-1903, for the first time in this country, a course at Teachers College, Columbia University, called Education 108—Practicum: the application of psychological and statistical method to education. Soon courses in statistical method were offered at Chicago (1910), Brown (1911-1912), Harvard (1912-1913), and scores of other universities by middecade. In 1904...
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Reform of Teacher Training
For the greater part of the decade, the so-called normal school continued to be the chief institution for training teachers for America's elementary schools. In some states the normal schools also furnished high-school teachers for rural schools, but most states required high-school teachers to have a college degree and to acquire certification to teach. Normal schools offered a two-year course to young students who usually had little more than an elementary education or two years of high school; the course included academic studies, a review of the material an elementary-school teacher would be expected to teach, and observation and practice teaching in a training school under the supervision of experienced teachers. Critics of normal schools charged that the academic work was weak and too much time was devoted to techniques and methods of instruction instead of content. In part to counter such criticism, in part to have the right to train secondary as well as elementary teachers, and in part to facilitate the passage of their graduates to liberal arts colleges, normal schools across the country began to improve their standards.
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Schools in the South
Decades of Neglect.
The optimistic story of progressive education in the 1910s does not include the seriously impaired educational systems in the South. Beset by economic woes and overwhelming rates of illiteracy, education in the former slave states had failed to develop and advance in the years following Reconstruction. As historian Edgar Knight wrote in 1920, the educational system in the South "bore the odium of bad rule and partisan politics; in consequence, indifference to it was so deadly as to equal outright hostility." Reform efforts had been attempted by the General Education Board, a philanthropic organization formed in 1903 to identify areas of need and render financial assistance. The board promoted secondary education and gave financial gifts to build and maintain hundreds of high schools throughout the South. Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture the GEB in 1906 set up demonstration farms under the supervision of demonstration agents. Despite these ambitious efforts, however, education in the South in 1910 showed the effects of general neglect and dis-interest, with the average annual school term lasting only 121 days and no plan of compulsory attendance in effect, even for elementary schools.
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Segregation and the Schools
The story of black education during the decade was set almost completely in the South. Nine-tenths of the total black population of the United States, according to the census of 1910, resided in the South. About 30 percent of the population of the South was black, while less than 2 percent of the population of the northern states was reported as minority in that census. In South Carolina and Mississippi more than half the population was black at the beginning of the decade. The South was handicapped by dire poverty, with incomes averaging just $3,449 per school-age child in the eleven southern states in 1912 (an amount derived by dividing the states' total incomes by the number of children in those states), compared to the wealth in Iowa at the same time of $13,473 per school-age child. All public schools in the South suffered from decades of poor economic conditions and neglect, but the black schools suffered disproportionately from both poverty and oppression. A second-class system of education existed for blacks, but it was second class to a rudimentary education given to whites. Public schools for blacks in the South were open three to four months per year, and the teachers, earning between $17 and $25 per month, made less than the wages black convicts were paid. According to black educator Booker T. Washington in his 1911 memoir My Larger Education, "ten million...
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Economic and Social Changes.
At the turn of the century the changing economy of the United States created new demands on the nation's schools for more vocational training in the new scientific farming methods and in industrial skills. Largely because of improved farm machinery, the total value of agricultural products grew from less than $5 billion in 1900 to nearly $8.5 billion in 1910 and almost $12.5 billion by 1919. At the same time, the growth of manufacturing made the United States the world's leading exporter of manufactured goods in 1910. In northern cities industries were particularly dependent on public schools to provide industrial education for workers because immigration from countries with a high percentage of unskilled and illiterate workers was replacing immigration from countries with skilled and better educated workers. The demand for more industrial training was further increased by the rise of American labor unions, whose restrictions limiting the number of apprentices changed the way workers were trained on the job. The Board of Education in Chicago set a precedent for industrial training when it made provisions in its system for courses in cooperative education; under this plan students could study arithmetic, English, drawing, architecture, and woodworking three months a year, then spend the rest of their school time on vocational instruction. Large commercial...
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Women and Education
In Secondary Schools.
A key debate during the decade was how to educate women for congenial work and financial independence while fitting them to be homemakers as well. In 1918, 57.9 percent of all students enrolled in secondary schools were girls. Some conservatives lamented that higher education for women and their success in professional training was "disinclining women for marriage and the cares of housekeeping and child rearing." A powerful group of educators, including John Dewey, demanded that the education of women be brought in touch with the vocational needs of the community. Though Dewey was not suggesting that women's studies be confined to home economics, he and other educators held that preparation for a life career and genuine culture were not alien to each other. Most women during this period, however, opted for a traditional classical education. The vast majority of young women enrolled in secondary schools during the latter part of the decade were engaged in academic rather than vocational studies. In the 1917-1918 Biennial Survey of Education, published by the U.S. Bureau of Education, 73 percent of girls enrolled in secondary schools opted for the academic track, compared with 10 percent in the home-economics course and 2 percent in the teacher-training course. Although the percentage of all students electing the academic course work, surrounded as it was "with an...
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Andrews, Fannie Fern Phillips 1867-1950
EDUCATOR, REFORMER, PEACE ACTIVIST
Lifelong Interest in Schooling.
Fannie Fern Phillips Andrews was an educator who campaigned tirelessly for an international bureau of education to promote peace studies. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of a shoemaker father and a mother who was president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Deciding at age three that she wanted to be a teacher, Andrews later attended Salem Normal School in Massachusetts and then taught for six years before receiving her degree in psychology and education from Radcliffe College in 1902. Her work in the public schools of Boston convinced her that students from different ethnic and economic backgrounds had to be taught to communicate and negotiate with each other. Her core belief that men who make war are spurred to conflict by their inability to understand one another's perspectives fueled her interest in "teaching peace."
The American Peace League.
In 1908 she founded the American Peace League, an organization that sought to promote peace by teaching the principles of "international justice" in American schools. She extended her influence by organizing the Boston School-Parent Group and serving as president of the Boston Home and School Association from 1914 to 1918. Andrews campaigned nationally for her ideals, and by 1915...
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Beard, Charles Austin 1874-1948
Charles A. Beard has had an enduring influence upon the interpretation of the American past. He was born on a farm in Indiana and educated at a small Quaker academy nearby. After graduatingfrom DePauw University, he undertook graduate study at Oxford, where he helped to found Ruskin Hall, a workingmen's college. He returned to the United States and married Mary Ritter, who later became his lifelong collaborator. After receiving a doctorate from Columbia University in 1904, he accepted a faculty position there, where he was a popular teacher and highly productive scholar until 1917. Among his influential historical texts produced during this period were American Government and Politics (1910), American City Government (1912), Outlines of European History (1912-1914), The Supreme Court and the Constitution (1912), American Citizenship (1914), and Economic Origins of jeffersonian Democracy (1915). However, his fame began in earnest in 1913 with the publication of An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, an "intellectual bombshell" in which Beard claimed that the Constitutionwas designed to protect the commercial interests and property rights of the framers.
Controversial View of the Constitution.
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Dewey, John 1859-1952
John Dewey was an American philosopher, educator, and psychologist whose widely hailed work provided the basis for much of the teaching practice in the United States in the early twentieth century. He had been a prominent national figure since receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1884, and his growing reputation was marked by his election as president of the American Psychological Association in 1899 and president of the American Philosophical Association in 1905. His distinctive educational philosophy began to take shape in 1896 when he founded an experimental school at the new University of Chicago. This laboratory school, officially called the University Elementary School, blended and utilized many of the new trends in educational thought and practice at the elementary-school level; it especially encouraged constant experiment and inquiry as the principal learning methods for its children. Dewey consciously intended this Chicago school to be an educational laboratory that could serve as a...
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Maxson, Henry Martin 1853-1930
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, PLAINFIELD,
Theory into Practice.
Dr. Henry Martin Maxson was born in Stonington, Connecticut, and graduated from Amherst College in 1877. After receiving his M.A. from Amherst, Maxson taught at and served as the principal of the North Attleboro High School in Massachusetts. In later years, after receiving his Ph.D., he served as superintendent of the Plainfield, New Jersey, school system from 1892 until his retirement in 1926. When Maxson was honored by his colleagues in 1917 at the National Superintendents' Association dinner in Kansas City, his twenty-five-year career exemplified the dramatic progress of education in the United States during these years. With a record that was increasingly emulated by his colleagues, Maxson effectively translated the theories of progressive education into the facts of daily school practice. His accomplishments were even more startling, his champions said, when one realized that "not many years ago, education was limited to the 3 R's." Among his accomplishments, Maxson set the standard by which auxiliary agencies became an established part of the American school district.
Frills Become Requirements.
Maxson was one of the nation's first superintendents to recognize the importance of medical and dental inspections and the need for a...
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Mitchell, Lucy Sprague 1878-1967
EDUCATOR, FOUNDER OF THE BANK STREET
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
A Different Path.
Lucy Sprague Mitchell, writer, teacher, and social reformer, is remembered primarily for her work in building experimental schools and as a researcher who carefully studied children's language-learning patterns. At a time when many educated women who sought careers spurned the notion of marriage and family, Sprague chose to marry economist Wesley Clair Mitchell and raise four children while pursuing a full career.
Lucy Sprague, the daughter of a wealthy Chicago family, grew up in an archetypal Victorian household. She viewed her mother as "ardent but suppressed, delightful but tragic" and eagerly embraced the notion of education as a means of escaping a similar fate. She was largely self-educated before college but attended Radcliffe as an undergraduate and graduated magna cum laude with honors in philosophy (the first honors awarded to a Radcliffe student from that department) in 1900. Like many female graduates of the day, Sprague found herself after four years of exciting college life back at home with her family. At the turn of the century a popular manual for girls titled After College, What? warned that for many educated women the answer to the question of the title was "deep and perplexing unhappiness"...
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Moton, Robert Russa 1867-1940
COMMANDANT OF CADETS AT HAMPTON
INSTITUTE; PRINCIPAL OF TUSKEGEE
Robert Russa Moton was a leading black American educator in the 1910s who graduated from Virginia's Hampton Institute in 1890, then served as the school's commandant of cadets from 1891 to 1915. He succeeded Booker T. Washington as principal of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, a vocational school for blacks, where he raised the curriculum to college level. Moton grew up on a plantation called Pleasant Shade in Prince Edward County, Virginia, where his father, a former slave, had hired himself out to a wealthy white family, the William Vaughans. Moton, with many responsibilities in the Vaughan house, wrote that it was in that home that he "caught my first glimpses of real culture and got my first inspiration as to what I would like to be." Moton was educated by Mrs. Vaughan and also in a free school, one of the first in the country to educate blacks. According to Moton, his childhood was happy and carefree until one of his closest childhood friends, a white neighbor, left to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Moton confronted racial prejudice in a very personal, immediate manner when his friend, returning home at Christmas, refused to shake hands with Moton. Moton decided then that getting an advanced education was the best thing for his future....
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Woodson, Carter Godwin 1875-1950
PIONEER IN BLACK HISTORY
Son of a Former Slave.
Carter Godwin Woodson, the son of a former slave, rose from humble origins and against steep odds to a remarkable career as a scholar and educator. Though he did not begin high school until the age of twenty, Woodson went on to study at Berea College, the University of Chicago, the Sorbonne, and Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1912. Later, from 1919 to 1920, he was dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Howard University.
Framework for the Study of Black History.
In 1915 Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History to train black historians and to collect, preserve, and publish documents on blacks, Woodson lived in an era that had completely neglected the history of black Americans, and the absence from textbooks and from historical volumes of any information about the history of blacks in the United States was his motivation for establishing a framework for the scholarly study of black people. What information there was in most history texts on African Americans presented a highly distorted view of their past and their...
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People in the News
Edith Abbott of Hull House, and founder of the Chicago School of Social Work, noted in 1918 that the "efforts of the professional woman to realize a new ideal of pecuniary independence constituted a social revolution."
Felix Adler, founder of the Ethical Culture Movement, advocated progressive education, free kindergartens, and vocational training schools in 1910.
Professor Frank Aydelotte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology organized a course on the historic background of the war and the social philosophy of the belligerent nations; called the War Aims Course, it was soon offered at all colleges in the United States training conscripted men.
Charles Caldwell, of the Chicago Tuberculosis Sanitarium, announced in 1917 that approximately 30 percent of Chicago's schoolchildren were anemic, underfed, and possibly affected by tuberculosis.
Dr. P. P. Claxton, of the U.S. Bureau of Education, wrote a foreword in a 1915 pamphlet issued to all rural schools by the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, on how to use the machine and its records in country schools.
Andrew Draper, commissioner of education of the state of New York, said in 1910 that the "affairs of the school should be wholly separated from municipal business; the public school system...
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Henry Adams, 80, professor of history at Harvard and the author of The Education of Henry Adams, the classic literary autobiography, 27 March 1918.
Clarence Ashley, 67, dean of the New York University Law School, 26 January 1916.
George Willis Botsford, 61, professor of ancient history at Columbia University and author of influential text-books on the history of Greece and Rome, 14 December 1912.
Professor Francis Cuyler, 58, Van Dyck Chair of Mathematics and Music at Lawrenceville School, Trenton, New Jersey, 25 January 1916.
Martin Luther D'Ooge, 76, professor of Greek at the University of Michigan and former president of the American Philological Association, 14 September 1915.
Charlotte Drinkwater, 84, general superintendent of Boston YWCA and founder of Hillside School in 1901, 2 March 1916.
Edward Kidder Graham, 42, professor at the University of North Carolina, 26 October 1918.
Dr. Karl Guthe, 59, dean of the graduate school at Michigan, 10 September 1915.
Frederick Guion Ireland, 70, charter member of the Schoolmasters Association of New York, 5 February 1916.
John Sinclair, 68, professor emeritus of mathematics at...
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Carter Alexander, School Statistics and Publicity (New York: Silver, Burdette, 1915);
Leonard Ayres, The Public Library and the Public Schools (Cleveland: Survey Committee of the Cleveland Foundation, 1913);
Lydia Balders ton, Housewifery (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1918);
Henry Eastman Bennett, School Efficiency (Boston: Ginn, 1917);
Frances Sage Bradley, How to Conduct a Children's Health Conference, Bulletin No. 23 (Washington, D.C.: Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, 1917);
J. C. Chapman and Grace P. Rush, The Scientific Measurement of Classroom Products (New York: Silver, Burdette, 1917);
Henry Curtis, Recreation for Teachers, or the Teacher's Leisure Time (New York: Macmillan, 1918);
Arthur Dean, Our Schools in War Time—and After (Boston: Ginn, 1919);
John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Macmillan, 1916);
William Dooley, Vocational Mathematics for Girls (Chicago: D.C. Heath, 1917);
John Robert Gregg, Gregg Shorthand (New York: Gregg, 1912);
John Haaren, Natural Freehand Writing (New York: D.C. Heath, 1916);
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Important Events in Education, 1910–1919
- Thirty-nine percent of undergraduates in U.S. colleges and universities are women.
- Embryologist Thomas Hunt Morgan begins to attract graduate students to Columbia University not for the curriculum but for opportunities in research.
- Admissions directors at Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Amherst begin discussions about the increasing number of Jewish male applicants.
- Only eight states have school attendance of 90 percent or higher of children ages six to fourteen. Four are in New England, and the remainder are in Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and New York.
- Examinations by local officials for teaching certificates are replaced in all states by examinations conducted by state boards or state departments of education.
- The U.S. Census reports that 550,000 children ages ten to fifteen are at work in factories, shops, and in other nonagricultural positions rather than at school.
- In February, the Journal of Educational Psychology, a forum for the research of educational psychologists, is founded.
- In May, a union of eight Boston institutions of higher education forms the Commission on University Extension Courses.
- In May, faculty in the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago vote to...
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