- Childhood and the Philosophy of Education
- Areas of expertise
- Professor Nigel Tubbs - University of Winchester
- Table of contents
Nigel Tubbs was a comprehensive school teacher in West and East Sussex, and in Leicestershire, before joining King Alfred's College in where he set up the Education Studies programme. More recently he has been part of the development of degree programmes in Liberal Arts at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, which carry the idea of liberal arts degrees as explorations in first principles grounded in a notion of philosophical education.
Nigel works between the areas of philosophy and education.
Childhood and the Philosophy of Education
I agree. With this book Cremin demonstrated how historians could deal with education when they overcame the split between the professional schools and the historical profession, and he even managed to note, at a key juncture in his narrative, that "the unfortunate consequences of the split. At 36 Cremin triumphed, with a full academic career still ahead of him. The Transformation of the School won the Bancroft Prize, awarded annually to recognize "books of enduring worth and impeccable scholarship that make a major contribution to understanding the American past.
What comes next? That is the inevitable question on finishing a work and looking ahead to the rest of life. Cremin had a powerful pedagogical presence in the classroom. As a lecturer he was clear, engaging, endowed with a gift to make history meaningful to a large and diverse audience. His big course, History of Education in the United States , drew numerous auditors Monday evenings, every autumn.
In , opportunity arose for someone to write a work on the topic of his big course with sponsorship by the U. Department of Education as part of the nation's Bi-Centennial observances, which were beginning to loom in official minds.
Having taught, and taught well, the full scope of the narrative many times, Cremin expected to finish the work in three volumes by , a miscalculation. Thus it came about that from the mids until shortly before his death in , writing a comprehensive history of American education dominated Cremin's scholarly labors.
And through it, developing and illustrating a historically sound definition of education was a key component of his effort. To define and to illustrate: that was Cremin's agenda. Two short books laid the ground work for it: The Wonderful World of Ellwood Patterson Cubberley explained the problems of definition, and The Genius of American Education sketched the key themes illustrative of education, broadly defined, in American history.
Work on the first volume of American Education proceeded quickly, resulting in its publication in In his "Preface," Cremin briefly explained the background to his formal definition of education and enunciated the initial version of it:. Throughout the work, I shall view education as the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit or evoke knowledge, attitudes, values, skills, and sensibilities, a process that is more limited than what the anthropologist would term enculturation or the sociologist socialization, though obviously inclusive of some of the same elements.
Education, defined thus, clearly produces outcomes in the lives of individuals, many of them discernible, though other phenomena, varying from politics to commerce to technology to earthquakes, may prove more influential at particular times and in particular instances.
In nearly pages, the book described with a panorama of particulars the colonial educational experience delimited by this definition. Cremin detailed the cultural heritage brought to the British colonies and the educational configuration of it in household, church, school, college, and community; he then surveyed the appearance in this configuration of characteristic American qualities of denominationalism, utilitarianism, and republicanism; and finally he summed the first volume up by depicting the institutions, configurations, and characteristics of the first great era of American education, that of provincial education.
In disagreement with Sol Cohen, I do not think that Cremin's assuming the presidency of Teachers College in significantly distracted him from his scholarship. Cremin was extraordinarily gifted in managing his time and energy well and had been an active administrator throughout his career. He reserved substantial time for his scholarship before and after taking on the presidency and his scholarly output during that period of his career was substantial.
If it took him longer to complete American Education than he originally thought, it was because the task was more difficult than he originally estimated. Within the Teachers College community, not a few felt that his effectiveness as president may have suffered because Cremin was so good at maintaining his primary commitment to his scholarship.
Attention by Cremin to his definition of education and to the historical elucidation of it continued apace. At the University of Wisconsin, Cremin delivered The Merle Curti Lectures for , giving three concise overviews of what each volume of his large work would cover, and he added "A Note on Problematics and Sources" to the published version of the lectures. This page note, combined with his Dewey Lecture for , especially the second section, "Toward an Ecology of Education," constituted an important reflection on his definition of education, leading to a rewording that amplified it somewhat.
As a result of these considerations, in the subsequent two volumes of American Education and , Cremin added a third key verb to his definition of education—"acquire," along with the original "transmit or evoke,"—and he enlarged the summational part concluding each volume, originally comprising three chapters on "Institutions," "Configurations," and "Characteristics," to include one more, "Lives. All together the trilogy presents a great kaleidescope of pedagogical activity with thousands of people and groups twisting over time in endlessly different configurations producing a churn of distinctive results.
In three lectures at Harvard in , Cremin presented as a coda to American Education the themes that stood out, in his judgment, from the whole of his survey:. First, popularization , the tendency to make education widely available in forms that are increasingly accessible to diverse peoples; second, multitudinousness , the proliferation and multiplication of institutions to provide that wide availability and that increasing accessibility; and thi rd, politicization , the effort to solve certain social problems indirectly through education instead of directly through politics.
Almost as if he knew they would be his final words, these lectures, published as Popular Education , convey the implications of his life work for the practice of education. Here he made the case for the value of defining education the way he did: first, it allowed educators to situate schooling in a more realistic pedagogical context; second, it enabled public leaders to appreciate the full scope of concerns that needed to be brought within the purview of educational policy; and lastly, it indicated the scholarly imperative to inform the pervasive, public urge to politicize educational issues with more knowledge, sound and comprehensive, about the human implications of educational action in all its forms.
These are big implications to a work fully achieved. To those of us who knew the man, it has been astonishing how quickly after his death his work has lost influence. Its burden continues to become all the more timely as schools operate as if in a pedagogical vacuum. Cremin argued against the stupidity of concentrating public attention exclusively on formal educators while paying little attention to informal educators, despite their growing educational influence. Yet the makers of public policy now bear more imperiously on formal educators, while they blithely ignore the educational role of informal educators as the custodians and owners of these, uncaring and indiscriminate, pursue more and more power and wealth.
Cremin argued that education was something happening pervasively in the lived experience of each and every person. Yet the establishment of educational researchers swells steadily with scholars pretending, ever more exclusively, to achieve universal findings valid for all, independent of time, place, and condition.
Something is missing to weaken the effects of very timely work. Michael B. Katz criticized the effects of this peculiar chronology in his judicious contribution to the "Forum" on the third volume of American Education in the History of Education Quarterly Vol. In addition, Katz usefully calls attention to Cremin's reluctance to engage in analytic explanation.
For instance, a not uncommon instance, the longish paragraph beginning on page and ending on of the third volume of American Education mentions 32 different individuals or groups, not counting the names of cities, states, and four publications. For those of us who knew the man, Cremin's personal presence was so prepossessing that we projected it into our reading of his work, which would otherwise appear flat and hard to follow.
In comparison to The Transformation of the School , Cremin's trilogy lacked narrative flow, especially within each volume. Historical exposition gains vigor from a strong sense of chronological direction but the text of each volume unfortunately cycled repetitively through its chronology, undercutting the overall sense of coherent movement through time. Cremin would recount how each component of key educational configurations developed through the whole period in question and then he would flip back to the beginning again, explaining the development of the next component, and the next: it was exhaustive, but too exhausting for many readers.
Additionally, as his narrative cycled forwards and backwards in time, Cremin further burdened his readers by confronting them with a profusion of proper names, strings of organizations and individuals, with the role each played just briefly mentioned. So showered with detail, a reader will easily loose the point, and many in his audience have undoubtedly put his work aside, partially read at best. But these stylistic matters simply indicate that American Education is difficult work—many difficult works exert a powerful and lasting influence on an interested public.
Something more problematic than complexities of detail and chronology may have detracted from the power of Cremin's major work to win, hold, and shape a following of active influence. Consider the key terms in Cremin's definition of education: "deliberate," "systematic," "sustained," "transmit," "evoke," "acquire," "knowledge," "values," "attitudes," "skills," "sensibilities," "learning," "effort," "direct," "indirect," "intended," and "unintended. Whether, when, where, how, and why an interpreter might apply each of these terms to characterize a specific human action requires the interpreter to make a nuanced judgment, about which different interpreters might undoubtedly disagree.
To become operative, Cremin's definition required complex criteria controlling its application to historical experience. These criteria remain hidden in his work. Of course, a scholar cannot make explicit in the formal statement of a carefully crafted definition all the criteria of judgment that he might use in applying it. But surely, in the course of its voluminous use, readers can expect that those criteria will become increasingly clear to them.
Yet with Cremin's work they do not. See, for instance, American Education , vol. Some 2, pages, rich in detail, convey little sense of Cremin's deliberations as he applied his definition within his vast scope of awareness. He describes much; he explains little. Why, given all the inclusions, did he exclude some things? We do not learn, for instance, how something, which he might have excluded because it was deliberate and sustained but not systematic social criticism?
Cremin chose to minimize notes that might have illuminated such judgments, and his bibliographies, mentioning nearly everything that he possibly could mention as remotely relevant to anything he included, discussed little of the literature in depth and does not illuminate the why and the wherefore of his judgments at all.
Cremin worked to inventory a diverse pantheon of educators, not to explain the distinctive particularities of how they functioned. Thus, radically different efforts to evoke distinctive sensibilities appeared through his descriptions as if they were remarkably similar: for instance, Jonathan Edwards, in a seventeenth-century religious context, and Harvey Cox, in the twentieth, both step forth, bright young men getting a good education, then acquiring some experience, and then succeeding by speaking with conviction and insight to the needs of their parishioners.
In both cases, and in many others, Cremin gave readers an epitome of the messages delivered, glossing over the difficult, jarring particulars of each with a reassuring "of course" or "inevitably," but little hard analysis of just how and why each message worked in its unique way to educate those who responded to it. Cremin pointed to a multitude of educational instances that fell within his definition of education, describing briefly what each did, but not explaining how each did what it did.
He was remarkably disengaged with respect to prominent efforts to explicate in depth a "deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, attitudes, skills, values, or sensibilities, and any learning that results from the effort, direct or indirect, intended or unintended.
Cremin acknowledged a severely watered-down version of Weber's argument and merely noted that it had caused considerable controversy among scholars, neither taking nor explaining a position of his own about it. Here is Cremin's discussion of Weber's reflection:. Whether Franklin's education was ultimately the source or the outcome of his enterprise must always remain problematical: at the least they were inextricably intertwined.
He may well have been, as Max Weber and others have portrayed him, the living embodiment of a secularized Puritanism, demonstrating in his life the explosive power of calling, though one can, of course find Catholics who were no less vigorous in their enterprise and Congregationalists who seemed called to nothing but lassitude.
However one resolves the time-honored controversy—and the interplay of men and traditions in the eighteenth century would seem to make any final resolution improbable—there can be no denying that a spirit of aggressive enterprise was widely manifest in provincial America and that it supported and was in turn strengthened by a variety of educational arrangements, both formal and informal. In the process, men rose from rags to riches. Weber wanted to explain a profound pedagogical irony: how could a culture of deep religious conviction, strongly averse to material pretense, engaging vigorously in the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit and evoke profound angst over the prospect of eternal damnation, produce in the span of several generations such leading examples of a spirit of aggressive enterprise, like Franklin, raising men from rags to riches?
Such explanation does not seem to have been an important goal for Cremin. Gunnar Myrdal's extensive analysis of An American Dilemma provides another prominent example of Cremin's reluctance to engage in the causal analysis of educational processes as he identified them. Cremin mentioned Myrdal's extensive work in introducing the educational activities of the NAACP in his third volume and returned to it in summing up the characteristics of metropolitan education at the end of the volume.
Cremin accentuated Myrdal's recognition of national idealism, the "American creed," an amalgam of values derived from the Enlightenment, with roots in Christianity and English law, that Americans shared with many other peoples, while identifying with it more strongly and more vocally than others. Myrdal perceived this creed "of progress, liberty, equality, and humanitarianism" to function as a real social force in American public life, the point with which Cremin most fully resonated. For Myrdal this creed interacted in a complex reciprocal tension with baser motivations, no less real, "where personal and local interests; economic, social, and sexual jealousies; considerations of community prestige and conformity; group prejudice against particular persons or types of people; and all sorts of miscellanous wants, impulses, and habits dominate outlook.
For Myrdal, the dynamic operated, embedded in American historical life, its outcome contingent on political choice and public effort. Cremin acknowledged the tension, but de-emphasized the degree to which Myrdal held the outcome to be contingent on sound social engineering informed by a thorough analysis of the many different causal factors at work. By leaving out a key qualification in Myrdal's text, Cremin quoted him as if the American dilemma were simply a matter of serious cultural lag, whereas Myrdal was actually asserting that the dilemma consisted in the still contingent struggle between the best and the worst in American character, which the American people had to resolve, overcoming deep-seated weaknesses pervasively embedded in all the structures of American life and character.
That was the moral urgency motivating the full and many-sided causal analysis that Myrdal's work comprised, an anxious urgency that Cremin's optimism too easily obscured. Characteristically, in American Education Cremin described, but did not explain. He depicted numerous educators acting in complex configurations occasioning a complexity of results. He rarely sought to explain their actions or deeply interpret their meaning. At the end of Traditions of American Education , Cremin concluded his "Note on Problematics and Sources," declaring the importance of "a clear, consistent, and precise theory of education.
Alluding to the authority of the philosopher, John Herman Randall, Cremin observed that "any history is always the history of something in particular, and the explanatory categories the historian uses in writing about that something in particular are almost invariably drawn from other domains—from politics or philosophy or economics, or from ordinary common sense. As soon as the historian attempts to go beyond mere chronicle, as soon as he seeks not only to arrange events in the order in which they occurred, as soon as he tries to view events in their multifarious relations, he must perforce reach beyond the events themselves to some set of laws, principles, or generalizations that will help make sense of them.
And those laws, principles, or generalizations almost always come from outside the discipline of history. Here is a basic problem in the philosophy of history. Is the meaning of lived experience something immanent in the experience that the interpreter has to draw out of it, making explicit what is immanent? Or is the meaning something external to the historical experience that the historian finds elsewhere and applies to it? In general, Cremin was very reticent about such questions, but here he seemed to adopt the second view, for he again invoked the authority of Randall and averred: "apart from some intelligent conception of education itself, there can be no truly intelligent conception of the history of education.
In this view, the history of education will illustrate an understanding of education generated through modes of reflection and inquiry other than the historical. Cremin went out of his way to avoid debating both alternative explanations pertinent to events he interpreted and his reasoning for and against the many judgments that went into his work. Was this avoidance sound? Does historical scholarship secure its proper place in the study of education by deriving ideas about education from other sources and applying them to past educational experience?
These questions are important and difficult, and to pursue them, we need to turn again to the educational historiography of Bernard Bailyn, for Cremin's answers to them were not at all unique, but ones widely shared among the academic historians from whom Cremin sought to win some recognition. Did Bailyn deliver? Faust was a specialist on Jonathan Edwards and prior to coming to the Fund in , he had been a successful university administrator, having served as Dean of the College at Chicago and then Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford.
The Fund for the Advancement of Education really served as an arm of the Ford Foundation, and in a few years it would become Ford's Education Division, with Faust as the vice-president in charge. Through the s, the Fund used substantial resources to help schools, colleges, and universities cope with shortages of teachers during the rapid post-War expansion, it led efforts to develop educational television, and it facilitated desegregation following Brown v.
The December meeting was a bit different, however. Faust, and O. Meredith Wilson — , who had been secretary of the Fund and had just started as president of the University of Oregon, had invited an influential group to spend two days discussing how to strengthen scholarship on the role of education in shaping American history. Faust drew a significant group together. Paul H. Buck — , whose Road to Reunion, — had won the Pulitzer in , chaired the meetings. A gifted administrator, he had been Dean of the Harvard University faculty of arts and sciences from to as well as Provost of the University from to , stepping down from these posts when James B.
Conant left the Harvard presidency. The group included several pillars of the American historical profession. Arthur M. Schlesinger — would be a key leader in the work of the group. He had established social history as an important field through a prolific and influential career as a powerful professor at Harvard and leader in the historical profession. The group included the two most prominent historians of American thought, Mere Curti — , from Wisconsin, and Ralph H. Gabriel — from Yale.
A few days after the meeting, Curti would deliver his presidential address on "Intellectuals and Other People" to the American Historical Association. The fourth senior historian was Edward Chase Kirkland — , for many years a widely recognized historian at Bowdoin, who had just finished a year as president of the American Economic History Association. The curriculum theorist, Ralph W. Tyler — was also a senior member of the group, then just starting as the founding director of the Palo Alto Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, having previously been Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.
Four more scholars, a generation younger, yet highly accomplished, completed the group. Francis Keppel — had become Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in and had already successfully solicited substantial funds from Faust to recruit strong liberal arts graduates into the teaching profession through a reinvigorated MAT program.
An up and coming instructor, whom Keppel had recruited to strengthen the history of education at Harvard, Bernard Bailyn — , also participated. Bailyn was then revising his dissertation, a highly successful one sponsored by Oscar Handlin, into his first book, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century.
Metzger —. De Witt Hardy. At the time of the meeting, Hofstadter and Metzger were together finishing up their timely history of academic freedom in American higher education. Paul Buck described the meeting briefly in his preface to a pamphlet the Fund published in , The Role of Education in American History , which solicited proposals from American historians in response to the group's concerns and announced the availability of funding for fellowships and research grants, publication subsidies, and support of conferences and summer seminars.
As Buck explained, the group spoke to their peers as leaders among academic historians and called on the profession to change the writing of American history by examining how educational processes could serve as causal factors indicating and explaining the salient characteristics of American experience. They began with a broad understanding of education, for their purpose "was to discuss the need of studying the role of education, not in its institutional forms alone, but in terms of all the influences that have helped shape the mind and character of the rising generation.
Buck et al. A deficiency in the work of the history profession, not schools of education, motivated the group, which "was unanimous in its conviction that, relative to its importance in the development of American society, the history of education in this country, both in the schoolroom and outside, has been shamefully neglected by American historians. Buck then added a further declaration, which, on stopping to consider it, stands in tension with the first and raises perplexing questions. Speaking on behalf of a group immensely sophisticated about history and about education, he stated that "it was also our firm belief that the imperfect knowledge of this history has affected adversely the planning of curricula, the formulation of policy, and the administration of education agencies in the present crisis of American education.
Storr, Richard J. The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, A smaller committee, drawn from the group that Faust had convened, drafted the pamphlet with the help of a new member, Richard J. Storr Storr had been one of Arthur M. Schlesinger's students and had recently published his dissertation as The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America. This smaller group—Buck chair , Faust, Hofstadter, Schlesinger, and Storr secretary —became the Committee on the Role of Education in American History, making decisions on the uses of monies provided by the Fund for the Advancement of Education to support work by historians on the role of education in American history.
Over the next ten years, this Committee managed these funds with careful attention to the purposes they spelled out in the pamphlet. They identified eight "great movements in American history" in which they believed "the role of educational forces" had been significant. A quick look at the eight movements the Committee singled out makes their commitment to American history in its entirety clearly evident. The building of new communities on the frontier.
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The Committee wanted historians to give a fuller account of what happened "as pioneering ended and the life of the town and countryside matured. The Committee invited a thorough, deep account of the process of Americanization in its many forms. The Committee perceived that "the concrete meaning of America as a land of opportunity" depended on whether educational forces effectively promoted equality or furthered existing inequalities.
The growth of distinctively American political institutions. The Committee recognized that republicanism and democracy were historically contingent and whether they would develop and endure depended in large part on what knowledge, skills, and values Americans and their leaders acquired.
Here was a pedagogical problem of historical dimension: "The nature of true democracy and of right education is subject to controversy; but the mutual dependence of the two is an article of common faith. The Committee noted that numerous transformations in social institutions and attitudes had occurred in American experience, none more profound than the shift from a rural, agrarian society to an urban, industrial one.
Reflecting the dominance of consensus history, they asserted that "the fact that a revolution has occurred in American society without apocalyptic violence cannot be explained until the role of [educational] efforts is carefully examined.
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The Committee commended the "penetrating insight" of economic historians into the extraordinary material development characteristic of American history, while adding that "we have much to learn about the development of the human resources which make the intensive use of the endowment of nature possible. The Committee reflected a realism about the all-out power conflicts between states evoked by the traumas of the twentieth century and observed that successful studies of propaganda will not suffice as a basis of national leadership "unless they are related to the use of education to produce particular responses toward other nations and to the uses of American power.
The Committee called attention "to the relevance of education to the spread and advancement of American culture. Leading up to these topics, the Committee gave a short disquisition on the historical role of education. According to Storr, writing in , Arthur Schlesinger had provided the key ideas the Committee advanced. At the meeting, Schlesinger had presented the inclusive conception of education essential to the whole effort and that conception continued to be the controlling idea of education throughout the Committee's work.
There followed an artful solution to the problem of distinguishing educational history from intellectual and cultural history, a problem that comes into play whenever a historian adopts a conception of education as inclusive as this one the Committee adopted. Within this assemblage, educational action was sometimes incidental and sometimes deliberate.
Professor Nigel Tubbs - University of Winchester
And within the comprehensive process, deliberate education had a special role as a multiplier and modulator. The whole set of forces, intentional and accidental, put ideas into operation among a people, but the intentional part had a crucial reciprocal influence on all of it, shaping what ideas people could accidentally appropriate and how they might absord or tansform it.
As a consequence, "the student of education seeks to find out how systematic instruction and information affect the reception of those ideas and so contribute to their efficacy. Cultural history would describe the various components of the culture; educational history would explain how people worked with these general components, finding themselves possessing the interests and skills to activate them or lacking the abilities to do so.
Members of the Committee were all skilled historians with an appreciation of the craft. They noted that the importance of documents would slant inquiry into the role of education towards institutions and activities that might generate a documentary record. Thus a locus of documentation would most likely be an institution, large or small, and it would be in tension with the enveloping society, of which it was a part, in the fashion of text and context. Reciprocal influence between society and the institution would be taking place. Consequently, the Committee observed, the historian could examine the tension between education and society from either of two directions, the effects of society on education or the influence of education on society.
They noted that the effects of society on education have been studied far more fully than the effects of education on society and consequently indicated their disposition "to give particular encouragement to scholars who wish to examine education as a creative force in United States history. At this point, the Committee noted a problem that would come to the fore in the decade of the 70s with the second wave of revisionism in educational history: are the determining effects exerted by society on education so powerful that education cannot act as an independent agent having effects from its side on the encompassing society.
The Committee recognized, of course, that educational influences are largely socially determined and therefore work significantly to reproduce existing social realities. Yet educational forces had "a modicum of power to act on their own," enabling effects to build over time into "a shift of several degrees in [the social] course. Thus they called for work on educational leaders, different educational institutions and forces, teachers and other sources of instruction and guidance, curricula and less formal pedagogical programs, and policy processes including the routinizing of programs through bureaucracies.
Many detailed inquiries needed to uncover the ways in which educational forces acted independently through individuals and institutions to the degree they could do so in the midst of powerful constraints. Fund for the Advancement of Education U. Over the next ten years the Committee used its influence and funds to promote such inquiry.
In , representatives of a dozen or so history departments met at Princeton to discuss how they might advance the Committee's goals. A second conference, October , , at Williamsburg, Virginia, seemed directed ostensibly to a limited group of specialists on colonial American history. Two years later, a third two-day conference took place at Berkeley, where Richard Hofstadter presented two essays on anti-intellectualism and education, which became part of his study of Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
A fourth meeting was held at the University of Minnesota to talk about education for immigrant groups. Finally, an extended invitational conference took place on Cape Cod at which historians presented papers on 19th-century education. Bailyn, Bernard. New York: Norton, , Of these meetings, the second two-day conference had the most evident effect. A select group of twenty colonial historians gathered for the third in an ongoing series on "Needs and Opportunities", sponsored by the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, to consider two papers presented by Bernard Bailyn about the historiography of colonial education.
His first essay sketched a hypothetical history interpreting how less predictable, more expansive conditions on the colonies elicited changes in the English heritage. Frontier conditions stimulated newly settled colonists to turn away from the educational practices they had brought with them on crossing the Atlantic. Hence, the educational uses of family and household as the site of apprenticeship and the local community, particularly its church, were changed and weakened in order to build up more formal, officially supported educational institutions.
The conjugal unit of the family persisted, but its extension over time and space became more tenuous; intergenerational authority weakened; and its sufficiency as the primary educative agent diminished.
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The same forces weakened apprenticeship structures and turned those that survived more exclusively towards a vocational quid pro quo between a labor hungry master and a skill hungry journeyman. The new land opened careers to talent and energy in ways that broke the old-world inheritance of vocations: Smith became a name, not an ascribed function. Yet the transfer of culture from one generation to another could not be taken for granted, especially in a world where the pressure of nature was imperious and the mark of culture on the environment contingent and tenuous. In response, education became "an act of will.
The Revolution confirmed, but did not alter this essential transformation of the medieval heritage in education, "which was not unique to America, but like much else of the modern world, it appeared here first. At the end of his interpretative essay, Bailyn turned from his exploration of how conditions in the colonies transformed the educational presumptions brought from England to indicate, through a paragraph each, the two most important ways in which the transformation of education in America shaped "the development of American society," the ostensible subject of the book.
First, it served as a powerful accelerator of social change, releasing "the restless energies and ambitions of groups and individuals," the very forces stimulated by the American environment to turn education in its willful, non-traditional directions in the first place. Second, the transformation "contributed much to the forming of national character.
He identified the role of education, but he did not explain the pedagogical processes by which it wrought this role. And in his bibliographic essay, which was immensely rich in the discussion of historical particulars about educational agencies at work in the colonial origins and experience, Bailyn paid little attention to sources or literature pertaining to how educational actions operated as causal determinants of general historical developments.
Compare the way Bailyn looked first at the cultural heritage brought with them by the early colonists and then assessed the changes the conditions in the new land forced the colonists to make with the way Schlesinger framed the matter: "What, then, is the American from the historian's point of view. The answer, briefly expressed, is so simple as to be a truism. Real understanding dawns only when the nature of these two factors is properly assessed.
Yet the Committee on the Role of Education in American History had hoped to elicit answers to precisely those pedagogical processes pertaining to the way education actually shaped historical experience. They wanted clarification of how educational activities served as agencies determining American history, not how American historical experience served as agencies shaping educational activities. Taken by itself, Bailyn's discussion of educational agencies in colonial America would appear as a highly competent specialist work, one indicating many opportunities for research showing how conditions in a sparsely settled land shaped educational practices adapted originally to very different conditions of life.
But one can imagine Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. The Committee had made clear the importance of examining "education as a creative force in United States history," yet the substantive strength of Bailyn's essays was in showing the effects of social changes under novel circumstances on the educational arrangements brought to the colonies. Bailyn, Forming , 8.
My suggestion of a both possible disappointment or a possible surprise among Committee members is at this stage merely something I hypothesize and look forward to testing by interviewing Bailyn and delving into archival holdings for Faust, Buck, and Schlesinger. I draw the hypothesis because the published record seems very careful to direct the work of the Committee towards historians in academic departments of history, not those in schools of education.
Although Francis Keppel and Bailyn participated in the original meeting, both seem to have dropped out of further proceedings between the original meeting and the presentation of Bailyn's essays four years later. Possibly disappointed, the Committee members may equally have been a bit surprised. Despite its brevity, Education in the Forming of American Society included more than a review of the professional historians' treatment of colonial education—a devastating critique of the existing literature in the history of education as it had been developed and used in schools of education.
Whatever the response at Williamsburg to this part of his presentation, it caught the attention of scholars in education. Bailyn opened his interpretative essay by observing that unlike the prior topics, colonial science and early relations with indigenous peoples, which were suffering from neglect, his topic, the early history of American education had become part of "the patristic literature of a powerful academic ecclesia" securely ensconced in schools of education since the s.
It was inbred, isolated, and anachronistic. Bailyn critiqued the histories of education written from the s into the s in the formative period for use in university-based schools of education, boosting compulsory mass schooling. As educational missionaries, the authors condescended to the past, seeing it as the present writ small, blinding themselves and their readers to the unexpected.
Obsessed with the development of public school systems, their purposes caused thought to short-circuit; they could see in the past only primitive intimations of the present and as a result they could only chronicle continuities, unable to perceive, let alone explain interesting change. Bailyn's target was ripe and his anathema provided a short, dry book with a powerful, attention-getting hook.
The effects on the history of education changed its writing and uses substantially, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse. New York: Peter Lang, p. Doubtless Bailyn's unexpected critique elicited in ensuing years much serious scholarship in the history of education. But it did so by deflecting effort away from what the Committee on the Role of Education in American History had sought to support. Sol Cohen has developed the very interesting possibility that Bailyn's critique, as it became amplified by Cremin and others, really aimed to bring to a head a power struggle then current in schools of education, securing the influence of scholars there who wanted to regulate research in education by applying academic, disciplinary norms rather than those of professional, field-oriented practice.
Such a purpose suited Keppel's purposes at Harvard. Certainly Bailyn's critique hastened the decline of the social foundations movement, large composite courses for all students in schools of education that had flourished from the s into the 50s. Further, publication of Bailyn's essays, followed closely by Cremin's Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, —, consolidated the prestige of disciplinary based scholarship at Teachers College and other schools of education.
Cohen correctly judged that while the call Bailyn and the Committee were issuing had some influence among professional historians, they "had more influence. Victory in this power struggle, played out in the name of contrasting intellectual visions, carried within it the grounds for its own collapse. First, Bailyn's critique had very little effect in actually shifting the institutional base. It instead actually left the history of education and related social science inquiries into education still situated primarily in schools of education, where their institutional rationale remained to be justified through their functionality in the work of the professional school.
Within schools of education, the enhanced academic prestige won by the new historians was largely cosmetic. But that was useful in the early 60s, for the perennial pressure on schools of education to raise academic standards had been particularly high in the aftermath of Sputnik and both enrollments and research funding were relatively flush, lowering the pressures on academic units in schools of education to justify their costs against income.
In these circumstances, power came easily to those with academic prestige and it did not seem particularly important to plan strategies for keeping that power should the favorable circumstances change. Consequently, no one paid much attention to the second seed of future collapse, a more subtle one, namely that Bailyn's critique did little to change the role and function within the professional schools of education served by the knowledge that historians and other social scientists generated about education.
H: Montgomery Endowment, Dartmouth College, Bailyn stigmatized the way historians in schools of education had played to their audience. In his view, history written by and for members of a profession other than the historical profession would be bad history.
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There was not much one could do about it other than have history written by and for members of the historical profession and he did not say much about why members of the educational profession should support such history when the pressures began to pinch. Here one might hoist Bailyn upon his own petard, for he displayed a singular lack of curiosity about why educators in schools of education at the turn of the 20th century had come to write the peculiar kind of history that he showed them to have written.
Interviewing Bailyn in , Edward Connery Lathem asked Bailyn whether he thought professionals could write good history about their profession and Bailyn hearkened back to Education in the Forming of American Society and suggested that the temptation to foreshorten history in a search for the antecedents of the present was nearly irresistible.
Better leave it to academic historians interested in the past for its own sake. We come here to a crux of the matter. What is the relationship between historical inquiry and a sound causal interpretation of what educates? We have seen how Cremin felt a need to turn to other forms of inquiry in order to arrive at a clear theory of education and we have noted that he used that theory, in a rather opaque way, primarily to identify diverse examples of educative activity and to describe what they did.
In a similar way, Bailyn seems to evidence similar proclivities. He identified a strong susceptibility among educators writing the history of their field to produce anachronistic inquiries into a past understood as the present writ small. But he seemed uninterested in why they did that and incurious whether they might have done otherwise. Revisiting the matter years later he suggested that such foibles are merely natural, for "they seem impelled," allowing only that a few, on becoming highly sensitized to the danger might "try to correct for it.
Their definitions of education generate descriptive agendas. Let us put the question that Bailyn left unasked: is there a historical explanation why the historians of education in schools of education wrote the sorts of foreshortened, anachronistic histories that they chose to write? To say simply that they were impelled to do it is a mystification, not an explanation.
Might they have done otherwise and if so why did they do what they did? Who was Schleiermacher? Gunter R. Schmidt, a specialist in the foundations of education and religious education at the University of Hamburg, made this point in the beginning of "Friedrich Schleiermacher, a Classical Thinker on Education," Educational Theory , Unfortunately, Schmidt wrote with too little sense of how best to bring out Schleiermacher's relevance for educational thought in the United States to awaken real attention to him.
It had a useless two sentences on Schleiermacher and a page and a half on the German educational thought and practice in the decades before and after The cast of characters will largely be familiar from most any History of Educational Thought, except for the chapter on Schleiermacher, prominent in the German histories and absent in the American. Chances are, unless interested in Protestant theology, an American educator will have no inkling who Friedrich Schleiermacher was.
Interest in many educators who wrote in German, especially Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel, came to the American schools of education as these developed in the decades before and after , largely by importing German pedagogical thought and practice. Schleiermacher did not make the crossing because Americans imported a particular historical variant of the available German repertoire, one in which Schleiermacher, and a few others as well, were persona non grata.