By: Alfred E. Smith
Source: Moskowitz, Henry, ed. Progressive Democracy: Addresses and State Papers of Alfred E. Smith. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1928, 275–276.
About the Author: Alfred E. Smith (1873–1944) was born on the Lower East Side of New York, the child of second-generation immigrants. With only an eighth-grade education, Smith went on to become a New York State assemblyman, governor of New York for four terms, and, in 1928, the Democratic presidential candidate. As New York governor (1919–1921 and 1923–1929), he worked to pass legislation to improve social welfare and preserve the rights of individuals.
The "Lusk Laws" were passed during the "Red Scare" following World War I (1914–1918), a period marked by a distrust and fear of radicals and foreigners, especially those individuals thought to represent the socialist ideals that had recently spread throughout Europe following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Economic woes, waves of immigrants entering the country, and labor struggles all fed the growing paranoia.
It was in this context that the New York legislature formed, in 1919, the Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Seditious Activities, headed by...
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Education on the Dalton Plan
By: Helen Parkhurst
Source: Parkhurst, Helen. Education on the Dalton Plan. New York: Dutton, 1922, 18–24, 27–30.
About the Author: Helen Parkhurst (1887–1973) began her career in education as a teacher in a one-room school. She studied in Italy under Maria Montessori and served as Montessori's representative in the United States. Based on her experiences in Montessori's school, Parkhurst developed a "laboratory plan" that she implemented in Dalton, Massachusetts. She lectured extensively abroad and produced several radio programs about education. Parkhurst is recognized as a leader in the progressive education movement.
Helen Parkhurst and the Dalton Plan were part of the progressive education movement that began in the 1870s and continued through the 1950s. The movement emphasized social reform through education, the use of psychology and scientific study in education, education for the "whole child," a more practical and relevant curriculum, freedom and self-expression for students, a curriculum derived from students' interests, school as socialization, and teaching how to think rather than what to think.
The progressive education movement had it origins in the...
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"Educational Determinism; Or Democracy and the I.Q."
By: William C. Bagley
Source: Bagley, William C. "Educational Determinism; Or Democracy and the I.Q." School and Society 15, no. 380, April 8, 1922, 373–384.
About the Author: William Chandler Bagley (1874–1946) received a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell University in 1900. He served as professor of education at the University of Illinois and Teachers College, Columbia. Bagley stressed improved teacher education and professionalism and emphasized the social aims of education versus the focus on individualism common in his time. He was a leader in the essentialism movement that advocated a curriculum leading to a common cultural foundation for all students.
The publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859 laid the foundation for a shift in thinking about the study of human behavior, which previously had been the domain of religion and philosophy. The theory of evolution led many to begin to think about humans as part of the natural world and therefore legitimate subjects of scientific inquiry. During the 1890s, William James and others pioneered the "New Psychology" based on "objective" methods, including psychological measurement. In 1905, Alfred Binet in France...
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Meyer v. Nebraska
Supreme Court decision
By: James Clark McReynolds
Date: June 4, 1923
Source: Meyer v. Nebraska. 262 U.S. 390 (1923).
About the Author: Justice James Clark McReynolds (1862–1946) was born in Elkton, Kentucky. He studied law at the University of Virginia, earning a degree in 1884, and served as a professor of law at Vanderbilt University. In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901–1909) appointed McReynolds Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice. He later became Attorney General, and was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson (served 1913–1921) to the Supreme Court in 1914. He served as a Supreme Court justice for twenty-six years until his retirement in 1941.
In 1920, a Nebraska private school teacher was convicted of teaching a ten-year-old child a Bible story in the German language. This act was in violation of a state law, passed in 1919, that prohibited the teaching of modern foreign languages in any school to any child who had not passed the eighth grade. The teacher, Robert Meyer, appealed the decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court and the conviction was upheld. Meyer again appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined the Nebraska law to be...
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"Children of Loneliness"
By: Anzia Yezierska
Source: Yezierska, Anzia. "Children of Loneliness." Reprinted in How I Found America: Collected Stories of Anzia Yezierska. New York: Persea Books, 224–228.
About the Author: Anzia Yezierska (18??–1970) was a Polish-Jewish immigrant who came to the United States when she was about ten years old. She graduated from Columbia University in 1904 and during the 1920s was a successful and acclaimed author writing mainly of the immigrant experience in America. One of her books, Hungry Hearts, was made into a silent film in 1922. Although she was largely ignored by publishers after the 1920s, academic interest in her life and work, especially among feminist scholars, has increased in recent years.
Anzia Yezierska wrote about the lives of immigrants in America. Her work grew out of her own experiences and those of people she knew. Yezierska's Polish-Jewish family came to America about 1890 when she was nine or ten years old (accurate birth records do not exist). Immigration officers, unable to spell or pronounce the Polish names, changed the family's last name to Mayer and each member received an American name—;Anzia became "Hattie." The family settled in a tenement and...
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"A Statement of the Principles of Progressive Education"
By: The Progressive Education Association
Date: April 1924
Source: "A Statement of the Principles of Progressive Education." Progressive Education 1, no. 1, April 1924, p. 2. Reprinted in Readings in American Educational History. Edgar W. Knight and Clifton L. Hall, eds. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1951, 528–529.
About the Author: Eugene Randolph Smith (1876–?), one of the founding members of the Progressive Education Association, graduated from Syracuse University, where he taught mathematics. He also taught in public schools and in Brooklyn Polytechnic High School. In 1912, he was asked to organize the Park School in Baltimore. Subsequently, Smith was appointed headmaster of the Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
The progressive education movement, begun during the late nineteenth century, was a response to a number of changes impacting American schools. An increasing population, new child labor and compulsory school laws, and waves of non-English-speaking immigrants put pressures on schools, especially in urban areas. It became increasingly clear that the old classical curriculum would no longer be adequate. Progressive educators introduced a number of reforms...
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Scopes v. Tennessee
By: Grafton Green
Date: January 17, 1927
Source: Scopes v. Tennessee, 154 Tenn. 105 (1927). Reprinted in The South Western Reporter vol. 289. St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing, 1927.
About the Author: Grafton Green (1872–1947) graduated from Cumberland University and was admitted to the Tennessee Bar Association in 1893. He practiced general law in Nashville until becoming a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1910. Green served as chief justice from 1923 to 1947, the longest tenure of any judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
In 1925, the Tennessee legislature passed the Butler Act, making it illegal, in any school supported by public funds, "to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advertised for teachers willing to challenge the law and offered to provide for the cost of legal defense.
In Dayton, Tennessee, a town experiencing difficult economic times, several town leaders looking for a way to attract attention and dollars to Dayton developed a plan to put a teacher on trial for violation of the...
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"The Teacher Goes Job-Hunting"
By: Thomas Minehan
Date: June 1, 1927
Source: Minehan, Thomas. "The Teacher Goes Job-Hunting." The Nation 124, no. 3230, June 1, 1927, 605–606.
About the Author: Thomas Minehan (dates unknown), a sociologist and high school teacher, received a master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1933. During the Great Depression, he lived as a hobo in order to study the lives of the transient homeless. Struck by the number of children he encountered, he wrote Boy and Girl Tramps of America, which was the inspiration for a PBS documentary, Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Depression.
Historically, teaching in schools has been regarded by the America public as a low-status job requiring few qualifications and offering little pay. Initially, most teachers were men who were considered unfit for any other profession or who taught temporarily as they prepared for higher-level careers. By 1870, the majority of schoolteachers were women. While public opinion held that women were inferior teachers and unable to handle discipline problems, the argument that women could be hired at one-third to one-half the salary of men was persuasive to many. By the turn of the twentieth century,...
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Gong Lum v. Rice
Supreme Court decision
By: William Howard Taft
Source: Gong Lum v. Rice. 275 U.S. 78 (1927).
About the Author: William Howard Taft (1857–1930) served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930. He graduated from Cincinnati Law School and earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University. Prior to being nominated to the Supreme Court, he served as Solicitor General, civilian governor of the Philippines, Secretary of War, joint chairman of the War Labor Board, and president of the United States (served 1909–1913). No one else has ever held the offices of both a chief justice and president.
In 1924, a Mississippi child, Martha Lum, began attending Rosedale Consolidated High School, a school reserved for whites, at the start of the academic year. At lunchtime on her first day, she was told she would not be allowed to return to school on the grounds that, as a child of Chinese descent, she was considered to be "colored" and might only attend a public or private school accepting colored children.
Her father, Gong Lum, sued the trustees of the school and the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education (Rice) for Martha to be allowed to attend Rosedale Consolidated. He argued...
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"Progressive Education and the Science of Education"
By: John Dewey
Source: Dewey, John. "Progressive Education and the Science of Education." Progressive Education 5, 1928, 197–204. Reprinted in Dewey on Education: Selections with an Introduction and Notes. Martin S. Dworkin, ed. New York: Teachers College Press, 1959, 113–126.
About the Author: John Dewey (1859–1952), had a long and prolific career that deeply impacted the intellectual life of the nation and the world. While his work spanned the fields of psychology, politics, and social issues, he is probably best known as a philosopher of education. In 1894, he was appointed head of the department of philosophy, psychology and pedagogy at the University of Chicago. In 1904, he left Chicago to join the faculty at Columbia. He remained at Columbia until his retirement in 1939. Dewey continued to write and speak until the end of his long life in 1952.
Dewey believed that education should, at least for young children, begin with the interests and motivations that the child brings to school. He referred to these interests as "dawning capacities," emphasizing that they are not ends in themselves but rather indications of what the child is capable of and about to be capable of. The purpose of...
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School and Society in Chicago
By: George S. Counts
Source: Counts, George S. School and Society in Chicago. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1928, 3–12.
About the Author: George S. Counts (1889–1974) earned a B.A. from Baker University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He taught at several universities before joining the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1927, where he remained until 1955. Counts was concerned with American democracy and education in the context of social and technological change. He was also a noted scholar in comparative education.
The progressive education movement was characterized by a diversity of aims and viewpoints and evolved over the course of its existence from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s. Prior to World War I (1914–1918), progressives focused on social reform within schools in urban areas, developing programs to meet the needs of the lower class, immigrant students who flooded the city schools. By contrast, postwar progressivism during the prosperous and free-wheeling 1920s emphasized creative self-expression in childcentered schools serving the children of the middle and upper-middle class. As the Great Depression deepened during the 1930s,...
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"Some 'Defects and Excesses of Present-Day Athletic Contests,' 1929"
By: Henry S. Pritchett
Source: Pritchett, Henry S. "Some 'Defects and Excesses of Present-Day Athletic Contests,' 1929." In American College Athletics, Bulletin Number Twenty-Three. Howard J. Savage, ed. New York: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1929. Preface, xiv–xvii. Reprinted in Readings in American Educational History. Edgar W. Knight and Clifton L. Hall, eds. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1951, 598–601.
About the Author: Henry S. Pritchett (1857–1939) received a bachelor's degree in 1875 from the Collegiate Institute at Glasgow, Missouri. In 1895, he earned a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Munich. Pritchett was a professor of astronomy at Washington University, superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). He was president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching from 1905 to 1930.
College sports have been characterized by commercialism from their very beginnings. The 1852 rowing contest between Harvard and Yale was arranged by a railroad superintendent who, wanting to draw well-to-do passengers to the occasion, promised athletes "unlimited...
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The Heart Is the Teacher
By: Leonard Covello
Source: Covello, Leonard, with Guido D'Agostino. The Heart Is the Teacher. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958. Excerpted in The Work of Teachers in America: A Social History Through Stories. Rosetta Marantz Cohen and Samuel Scheer, eds. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1997, 216–221.
About the Author: Leonard Covello (1887–1982) came to America with his family from Italy at the age of eight. He was a teacher, advocate for the Italian American community, and proponent of the inclusion of Italian in the curriculum alongside other modern languages. He received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and later earned a Ph.D. from New York University. As a high school teacher and principal, Covello was actively involved in the lives of his students and their families and communities.
Prior to the 1880s, most immigrants who came to the United States were from Northern Europe—;mainly England, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. After this date, increasing numbers of new arrivals were from Southern and Eastern Europe. By 1900, these groups made up the majority of the foreign-born entering the country. This latter group, originating mainly from Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, differed...
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