Monday, June 08, 2015

the gang of 15

The gang of 15, more commonly called the "committee," was established to set the guidelines in 1895 of what American education would be like in the future, and in particular how teachers would be trained. The full report can be read here: "Correlation of Studies".

I have been amazed at how little of the history of education is generally known by teachers, and this report explains it as follows:
Breadth of mind consists in the power to view facts and opinions from the standpoints of others. It is this truth which makes the study of history in a full, appreciative way so influential in giving mental breadth. This general advantage the history of education has in still larger degree, because our interest in the views and experiences of those engaged like us in training the young, enables us to enter more fully into their thoughts and purposes than we could into those of the warrior or ruler. From the efforts of the man we imagine his surroundings, which we contrast with our own. To the abstract element of theoretical truth is added the warm human interest we feel in the hero, the generous partisan of truth. The history of education is particularly full of examples of noble purpose, advanced thought, and moral heroism. It is inspiring to fill our minds with these human ideals. We read in the success of the unpractical Pestalozzi the award made to self-sacrifice, sympathy, and enthusiasm expended in giving application to a vital truth. But with enthusiasm for ideals history gives us caution, warns us against the moving of the pendulum, and gives us points of departure from which to measure progress. It gives us courage to attack difficult problems. It shows which the abiding problems are — those that can be solved only by waiting, and not tossed aside by a supreme effort. It shows us the progress of the race, the changing ideals of the perfect man, and the means by which men have sought to realize these ideals. We can from its study better answer the question, What is education, what may it accomplish, and how may its ideals be realized? It gives the evolution of the present and explains anomalies in our work. And yet the history of education is not a subject to be treated extensively in a training school. All but the outlines may better be reserved for later professional reading. (emphasis mine)Correlation of Studies: Report of Sub-committee of the Committee of Fifteen, Com. Wm. T. Harris, Chairman, Supt. J.M. Greenwood, Supt. C.B. Gilbert, Supt. L.H. Jones, Supt. W.H. Maxwell, 1895
In other words, and if you are one who would leap ahead in preference to reading too much, the gang of 15 decided that the history of education was extremely important, but should not be taught to teachers except in the most cursory manner. Perhaps that was a good choice for the sound mechanics of the operation. For instance, if teachers were to become more aware of Comenius, Froebel, and Salomon, they would be given the mental breadth to understand that the means through which they were expected to teach was unsound and ineffective.

Today I will begin teaching an adult class to make Scandinavian bent wood boxes.

Make, fix and create...

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