Friday, May 07, 2010

Eugene Davenport

Eugene Davenport was the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Illinois from 1888 to 1911 and wrote the following in a paper, Industrial Education With Special Reference to High School previously preserved in the Bryson Library, Teachers College, New York:
Schools have much to do to compensate for the fact that they take the children out of real life for a period of years into an artificial world that we call the school house. They come out of it "long" in information to be sure, but they have lost a subtle something that comes only from personal experience in real life during the days of development. We are coming at last to realize that there is more than one avenue to a successful life, that the way by the schoolhouse may not be the best for all people, and that whether it is the best will depend upon whether the school gives a true or a distorted picture of life. Is the mirror of life which the schools hold up a true one? Is it badly concave or convex at any point? If so, then that concavity or convexity needs correction.

The farm and the shop and the work of the household have a powerful influence in developing executive ability and the power of initiative quite independent of acquisition of knowledge, and if we make the mistake of substituting mere accumulation of facts for this sort of development, and sacrifice the one for the other, it is more than an open question if on the whole we have not lost more than we have gained.

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