What is Democracy in American Education? An Interpretation for the Elementary School

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LD3907 .2)3 Hickerson, Janes Allen, 19011942 V/hat is democracy in American educa.H4c tion; an interpretation for the elemen­ tary school... New York, 1942. r.iii,225 typewritten leaves. 29cm. Final document (iid.D. ) - New York university, School of education, 1942. Eibliography; p.e222*-225. A294C7

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WHAT IS DEMOCRACY IN AMERICAN EDUCATION An Interpretation for the Elementary School

J. Allen Jiickerson

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in the School of Education of New York University




S o m e p a g e s m a y hav e i n d i s t i n c t print. F i l m e d as received. University Microfilms, A Xerox Education Company

PREFACE Most people want to live In peace.

They want to grow

up to manhood and womanhood, to marry, and have children. They crave security and the opportunity to serve and to be served.

Y/lthin every nation people have had problems to

solve, conditions to correct so that these desires could be better realized.

To be sure, the solutions of national prob­

lems: and the corrections of internal conditions have not always proceeded in peaceful fashion.

There have been times

when issues have been considered so grave, and peaceful solutions seemingly so unattainable, that people have felt it necessary to resort to violent struggles and even to bloodshed in the effort to improve their way of life.


have been animated into action by a variety of motives— selfand family-preservation, patriotism, humanitarian zeal; the desire for economic and political betterment, for religious freedom, for intellectual and spiritual freedom.

The list

can be extended. The story of mankind's struggles to achieve a better life is the story of the development of the democratic ideal. The democratic ideal is not to be identified with any particular set of institutions. Rather is it to be regarded as a conception of human worth, a belief in the essential dignity of the ordinary man, produced by ages of travail and struggle. It is the modern expression of that rich heritage of thought and aspiration bequeathed to the race by a great line of seers and prophets reaching back through the centuries to Jesus and Plato and A


946 7

ii t

doubtless to a myriad of names not recorded on the pages of history. '•The good of man, ■ said Aristotle almost twenty-three hundred years ago, 'must be the end of the science of politics . . . . To secure the good of one person only is better than nothing; but to secure the good of a nation or a state is a nobler and more divine achievement.■ The spirit of this ancient conception has animated countless battles for human freedom— the aboli­ tion of serfdom.and chattel slavery, the over­ throw of despotism and tyranny, the war against cruel and inhuman social practices, the spread ' of popular education and enlightenment, the rise of the common man to political power, the emancipation of woman from masculine rule, and the advance of the organized workers of the world .1 Our own national heritage is rich with the democratic tradition.

James Truslow Adams** refers to

. . . . that American dream of a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank which is the greatest contribution we have as yet made to the thought and welfare of the world. That dream or hope has been present from the start. Ever since we became an in­ dependent nation,each generation has seen an uprising of the ordinary Americans to save that dream from the forces which appeared to be over­ whelming and dispelling it. Once again in our history the American people are rising up to meet the challenge of forces which are attempt­ ing to "overwhelm and dispel" the dream of a fuller life. Although we had not yet achieved in practice all of the promises of that dream at the time when we were attacked by fascist forces from abroad; although such problems as unemployment, security, health, racial and religious

1. 2.

George S. Counts, Social Foundations o£ Education, pp. 11-12. The Epic o£ America, p. viii. ill

tolerance, political equality for all negroes, educational opportunity for all, had not yet been fully solved; although our democracy had many imperfections— still, the overwhelm­ ing majority of the American people from the lowliesttenant farmer and laborer to the multi-millionaire Industrialist and financier are now relegating their own group conflicts to a secondary position.

A nation once openly divided on

major issues— industrialist against labor unions, A. F. of L. against 0. I. 0.,."isolationists" against "interventionists"— is now facing the task of uniting efforts in the primary task of resisting aggression from abroad. Perhaps, during the national struggle against the anti-democratic forces abroad, the American people will hasten their own democratization at home.

This, it seems

to me, is the major responsibility of the present generation; If we are going to maintain and advance the democratic ideal v;e will improve our own democratic orocesses and ways of living while we are Joining with other peoples of the world in defeating fascist military Imperialism.

If this is done

in all countries thus Joined in common cause, the war will not have been fought in vain.

If this is done, the war itself

may prove to be the great, though costly, democratizing agent for the peoples of the world. A democratic world will not come to pass automatically. People must fashion it.

How it can be fashioned is the prob­

lem: for all to study and to solve.


Professor Linden A.

Mander, In his "Foundations of Modern World Society"1— a hook which was written before the Soviet Union and the United States entered the war— gives a word of advice which seems Just as applicable now as It was when it was written. It is sometimes said that events will force mankind to make adjustments. To a degree this is true; but in a complicated world people may misread the meaning of events;' they may misin­ terpret the direction in which society is moving; prejudice and ignorance may cause men to see things out of perspective. Thus one of the great tasks of the immediate future is to make certain that men and women can adapt themselves psychologically and intellectually to the changes which have occurred, that they appreciate the nature of the world in which they live, and that they cease living in a past which cannot return. To enable them to do so, a vast program of'politi­ cal education will be required. For several years it should be the major consideration of the states­ men and leaders of democracy to make possible, over the radio and in public forums, town meet­ ings, the universities, high schools, clubs, churches, end all other associations, the widest discussion of the fundamental problems which con­ front the world in its effort to obtain peace, order, and good government. The great political and economic changes demanded by the international conditions today require a mental change which may well amount to a mental revolution. Not only must our political concepts be radically revised but our views on economic organization must be greatly expanded. It will be impossible, however, for these two things to take place unless also there develops a much graver attitude toward life as a whole. People do not change their political and economic values as they would change a suit of clothes. Changes in values arise from philosophies; and what is required today is a more comprehensive philosophy to take the place of the confusion and uncertainty which beset men's souls.

1. Pp. 891-892.


While engaging in the prosecution of the war and in the building of the peace the people of America will find it necessary to make many adjustments in their personal living— joining the araed forces, participating in civilian defense, changing Jobs, Increasing production, moving to new locations, assuming additional responsibilities, cur­ tailing consumption of certain commodities.

Public education

has a tremendous role to play in helping people to make these adjustments and understand the significance and meaning of events.

Organized education has the serious responsibility

of preparing children and youth to assume the duties of democratic citizens so that they can carry on the democrati­ zation process in national and international life. Democracy, gradually developed by the struggles of man toward enlightened altruism, can be neither bestowed nor imposed. Every new generation, every individual must learn what its foundations and its Ideals are, must develop a faith in its superiority over all other forms of social living, and must with that developed faith acquire a determination to apply it to all the problems of life.l The following pages are an attempt to apply the ideals and principles of democracy, as I see them, to problems now facing public education.

In so doing I decided to treat

only those aspects and problems of education with which I have had some personal, experience.

Consequently, many im­

portant phases of educational practice have been omitted. In Chapter I— The Development of Democracy— I attempt to give a very brief historical overview of certain aspects 1. William P. Russell and Thomas H. Briggs, The Meaning of Democracy, p. v. vi

of the growth of democracy from early times to the present, concluding the chapter with a list of characteristics which I believe the future democratic state may possess and which might serve now as guides or goals toward which we as a people could strive. Chapter II— What Education is Consistent with Democ­ racy? •— traces briefly the trends in the expansion of educa­ tional opportunity from the feudal period to the present, with major emphasis given to the development of educational opportunity in our own country.

The chapter concludes with

a series of educational principles and objectives which I consider to be consistent with the characteristics of the democratic state outlined in the first chapter. The Curriculum— Past, Present, Future— is treated in Chapter III.

Here I try to appraise some current curricular

practices in the light of their similarity to practices be­ queathed to us by medieval educational theory and practice. In the last pert of the chapter I discuss certain curricular trends which I believe harmonize with the ideals and principles of democracy. In the next chapter— Administration of the Elementary School— present administrative policies, practices, and trends are reviewed from the point of view of the democratic criteria previously formulated.

The second half of the chapter

is devoted to a discussion of democratic and undemocratic elementary school organization.


In the concluding chapter— Democratic Means to Demo­ cratic Ends— I propose certain practices which I believe school people

could adopt in order to hasten the democratiza­

tion of our educational procedures.

This is followed by

suggestions concerning the task of preparing teachers to function effectively in and for the democratic state. It may seem that I place too much emphasis, especially in my historical interpretations, upon economic and political motives as determiners of human behavior.

Perhaps this is so.

Hy reason for selecting this emphasis, however, is not that I believe other motives, such as the religious, humanitarian, idealistic, and altruistic have not played vital roles in the march of progress.

On the contrary, the causes of many of

the world's historical developments cannot be adequately understood unless: these and similar motives are taken into consideration.

That I have given perhaps too slight credit

to these motives and too much credit to economic and political factors is due to my belief that the major problems confront­ ing the world today are primarily economic end political in nature and that, therefore, a consciousness of the importance of economic and political problems of the past might aid us in gaining a better understanding of similar problems in the present and future. I again quote from Mander who, as Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington, writes with some



In his preface he states^"-

The evidence contained in the following chapters should make it clear that nations as isolated units of government are unable any longer to perform their tasks as sovereign independent entities except at ruinous cost. The present war is an indication of the frightful sacrifices demanded in the attempt to maintain security by national effort alone or with the help of the Allies. And the evidence also shows unmistakably that these nations cannot by themselves adequately organize shipping, radio, properly continuous railroads, air travel, health, conservation, the prevention of crime, and a host of other activi­ ties. For what purpose then are they fighting? Looked at from this angle, the tragedy of Europe may be seen in a new light— the tragedy of countries fighting to defend themselves with a system of government which has worked well in its day but which is no longer adequate for the purposes of the present world. Blood and treasure are being sacrificed because of the retention of an instru­ ment which should now play a subordinate (but still important) role in government but which people have vainly striven to continue as an exclusive and dominant political entity. The utmost loyalty ha.s been demanded for a form of society which is less and less able to handle the business which confronts it. Europe and, for that matter, the world are resisting a necessary change in the structure of government. It should seem obvious that, as life changes and new problems arise, new methods of government must come into existence to meet changed conditions— otherwise disaster ensues. Feudalism played its part and gave way in the full­ ness of time to a new kind of society. So must pre­ sent forms of government in turn change their functions. Seen from this standpoint, international government is not a luxury but a necessity. At the present moment the danger exists that the war may be fought for the wrong ends and that men may be asking and answering with terrible intensity the wrong questions. They may not see that the essential need of the world today is constitutional building— to find the politi­ cal form of society which is best suited to control 1. Linden A. Mander, Foundations of M o d e m World pp. vl-vii.

the vast forces which modern science has released-— and that nationalism, by attempting to maintain itself in the center of the stage, is overplaying its part, is weakening itself, and, indeed, is threatening itself with destruction. A second world war in our generation will have been fought in vain unless mankind can realize quickly the deepest problem which confronts it. Prom the other end of the nation another authority— Allan Kevins, Professor of History, Columbia University— also emphasizes world economic and political arrangements as being the major concern of our times.^ The greater goal in this conflict is fast becom­ ing evident and before long no one can be blind to its overwhelming importance. Once more it has been proved that, in the language of the League [of Nations] Covenant, war anywhere is the con­ cern of all nations everywhere; once more it has been demonstrated that all oountries of the globe are interdependent and must recognize their common interest. Americans died in the last war to set up an ex­ perimental world organization which achieved much and came near justifying the bright hopes attached to it. They will die in this war to erect a new and sounder world organization, which can make fresh advances toward the preservation of peace, the equalization of economic opportunity and the promotion of liberty. . It may also seem that I over-emphasize the Importance of "travail end struggle" as a means by which human progress has been achieved.

However, it is a fact that today the

great majority of mankind, in one way or another, are engag­ ing in a violent struggle, the magnitude of which surpasses all previous wars and conflicts.

VThile some of us become

disheartened by the killing and the organized preparation 1. 1942 - A Year for the Heroic Mood, The New York Timag Magazine. December 28, 1941, p. 1 0 . x

for killing, and while some of us become pessimistic over the outcome of the present war, nevertheless, by recognizing that in the past the cause of democracy was advanced by wars and revolutionary upheavals, as well as by peaceful means, we may be able to gain a better perspective and maintain a more determined purpose as we participate in the present conflict. My emphasis upon the importance of the active role which the underprivileged peoples of the past have played in their own betterment is prompted by my belief that the peoples of today cannot fashion a more democratic world at the conclusion of the present war unless the underprivileged, common, ordinary folk in the exploited, conquered, and attacked nations actively participate in the winning of their own liberation.

No section of the population, whether

here or abroad, is exempt or should be considered exempt from the responsibility of ridding themselves of the exploiter, conqueror, and attacker.

History furnishes us with a wealth

of precedent and example y/hich shows that the underprivileged are capable of fighting and sacrificing to achieve a greater degree of freedom. This book is addressed primarily to teachers.

We in

organized education are being called upon along with all others of the nation's folk to extend our efforts and con­ tribute to the fullest.

If the reading of these pages will

stimulate even a few teachers to study and think, if it will aid only a few in the difficult task of gaining perspective xi

in the confusion of world events, more cannot be asked.

J. A. H.



Preface I II III IV V


The Development of Democracy What Education is Consistent with Democracy? The Curriculum— Past, Present, Future


44 70

Administration of the Elementary School


Democratic Means to Democratic Ends





CHAPTER I THE DEVELOPMENT OF DEMOCRACY Q u £ Democratic Heritage Democracy has been defined in various ways by a great many people over a period of a great many years— it is a form of government; it is a way of life; it is an attitude or spirit; it is faith in the rightness of man's instinct; it is equality; it is freedom; it is security; it is the brotherhood of man; it is the belief in the dignity of man; it is the classless society; etc., etc.

Undoubtedly all of

these concepts and many more may enter into a complete definition of what might be called "pure" democracy.


cally, however, the idea of democracy seems to have point and meaning only when referred to specific conditions and specific times.

In fact, the meaning of democracy seems to

change as civilization changes. a pure abstraction.

Perhaps "democracy11 is not

It may be a growing evolving concept.

This may be the reason why it is difficult to arrive at a definition of a pure, eternal, abstract, and ideal concept of democracy which would be acceptable for all time.'1’

1. "American democracy today bears little resemblance to that of yesterday. The closing of the frontier and the rise of industrial civilization have profoundly transformed the simple society of the times of Jeffer­ son and Jackson; but whether there is more or less of democracy now than formerly depends upon definitions. Some say that it has all but disappeared, while others see a steady march of democracy from colonial days down to the present." (George S. Counts, The Prospect a of American Democracy. p. 43.


If this is true, democracy, to have real concrete meaning, should perhaps be considered in terms of specific human rights and responsibilities.

The number and kinds of

democratic rights and responsibilities would then determine the amount and kind of democracy.

For example, when the

democratic right and responsibility to share in the making of decisions which affect our lives is applied only to our political affairs we would have political democracy.


this democratic right and responsibility is extended to include participation in the management and government of our economic affairs as well, we would have economic demoe— racy..

In either case there would be democracy, although

in the second instance there would perhaps be more democracy than in the first. We may too often overlook the fact that democracy exists in varying degrees in different places and at different times and in some human relationships, but not in others.


it is due to this fact that so many conflicting ideas are voiced concerning the status of democracy in the world and the social issues which are arising.

We often hear the con­

tradictory opinions expressed, "The United States is the foremost democracy in the world," and "There is no democratic country anywhere."

The first opinion is based upon the belief

that in more spheres of life more democratic rights prevail in this country than in any other country.

The second opinion

is based upon the belief that democratic rights do not yet apply to all of the people in any country in all phases of their lives.

And both statements would be true, considered


from their respective viewpoints. Or— take the word "democracy" itself.

It is derived

from a Greek word meaning "the rule of the people."


claim that the ancient Greeks instituted the first democ­ racies.'.

Others maintain that the .Greek city-states were

nothing but autocratic dictatorships. may be correct.

Again, both views

If we consider only that minority of the

population who were free citizens, the first interpretation seems right, since the slaves were not considered as being a part of "the people."

If, however, we look at the Greek

population as a whole, it appears that the Greek governments were actually a kind of aristocracy, albeit a certain amount of democracy was enjoyed within the favored class.


the Greeks did have a word for it, they did not think of democracy as applying to the common masses of people.^ Whether the term democracy was used or not, mankind has from the beginning of time hoped and striven for a greater degree of economic security and for a fuller measure of freedom of expression.

It is an innate quality of all

living things to want to grow and expand.

The history of

1. "Athenian democracy involved a large measure of personal government and responsibility for each citizen. Politi­ cal rights, to be sure, were restricted to a minority; Socrates was condemned to death for unorthodoxy; the city-state was shaken by bitter class struggles for power between rich and poor. But the fundamental theory that officials v/ere the agents of the popular assembly was seldom effectively challenged." Carl Frederick Wittke and others, Democracy la Different, p. 4.


mankind, then, could be viewed in the light of this dreaming and striving for a fuller life.

For man, in order to grow

and expand, must develop mentally and spiritually as well as physically. From the time of the earliest civilizations we find - evidences that the oppressed rebelled against the oppressors or that the oppressors used torture, force, coercion, deceit, or cunning, fearing rebellion.

Slaves revolted against their

masters in the ancient slave civilizations; peasant serfs revolted against feudal lords during the Middle Ages; feudalisn in Europe with its autocratic rule of clergy and nobility was rent asunder largely due to the upsurge of the growing middle classes, the artisans, the urban workers, and the peasantry; black slaves staged insurrections against their masters in the United States.1 1

Little by little throughout the ages the

. "As the ruling classes in Rome became aware of the discon­ tent of the conquered provinces and exploited groups at home, they moved to protect their own immediate possesions and property. P’rom the remote edges of the empire, Eng­ land and northern Gaul, they withdrew their legions to serve in the suppression of slave revolts at the very gate's of Rome. Once the military power was withdrawn, the 'law and order1 on which Rome so prided Itself became an empty gesture. Large provincial landholders, who once worked thousands of slaves, suddenly found themselves without laborers. Their vast estates offered rich booty to roving bands of warriors who lived by pillage. Small farmers were little better situated. The citizens of villages found both home and life endangered. The basic elements of life Itself— food, shelter,, and clothing— ware jeopardized as bands of revolting slaves and other desperate groups sought the short-lived satisfaction of plundering under the leadership of the gangsters of that day. In desperation people everywhere sought to make life secure and to salvage their possessions by any available means." Russell A. Dixon and E. Kingman Eberhart, Economics an& Cultural Change. pp. 133-134. "At any rate, we have the plainest evidence that the medieval peasant was not content with his lot, quite


■great masses of underprivileged people have gained greater security, greater amounts of freedom, greater opportunities for expression.

In short, mankind has gradually extended

democratic rights and responsibilities.

And the struggle is

still going on. apart from the bare fact of those bloody revolts which are recorded in almost all countries. In Germany the earliest written laws, the Sachsensplegel and Schwabensoiegel, show a clear yearning for earlier conditions of comparative freedom. In England, chroniclers describe the bitter resentment of men who felt themselves formed in Christ's image and treated like beasts.” G. G. Coulton, Medieval. Panorama, p. 80. "It Is interesting to note that the decline of the manorial system was marked In Germany, as In England and France, by a peasants' revolt. It was no mere coincidence that these revolts came when the system was breaking down rather than when it was being established. Their basis lay in the fact that conditions which had given rise to the system had changed, and that those who suffered most from its anachronisms had grown impatient. "All three revolts were accompanied by bloody excesses, partieularly on the part of the lords, and none of the three was successful In bringing about any immediate betterment of rural conditions. They were of significance chiefly because they served to give definite expression to the long-standing grievances of the peasants; and because they were symptoms of the decay of the old manorial system." Harry Elmer Barnes, A& Economic History of the Western World, p. 154. "How can the statement of docility be reconciled to the two hundred known revolts and conspiracies of over two hun­ dred years, as revealed by the newspapers and the law courts of the South? These were not revolts of 'drunken niggers' shouting imprecations, but armed conspiracies, carefully planned, nurtured for months, carried out with cold heads by those who desired, first freedom and then stark and complete revenge. The unknown conspiracies can only be imagined through the words of J. E. B. DeBow, the spokesman for the slavocracy, who maintained that the slaveholders kept their citadels well manned and seldom allowed disquieting news to cast a shadow on their autocracy. "How can the statement of submission be reconciled to the Ingenuity and reckless courage that sent the Underground


One of the earliest expressions of man's hope for a fuller life lies in the teachings of Christianity.


followers of Christ believed that each soul is of infinite value, that all men regardless of wealth or rank are equal in the sight of God, that all men are brothers, that each person has an obligation to serve his fellows.

It was not,

however, until the period .when feudalism was giving way to capitalism that the conditions of life were beginning to make it possible for men to substantiate to any considerable extent that hope of a better life.* Railroad roaring through the best parlors in America or made the Abolition movement the conscience of the country? To understand these effects, one must under­ stand the cause. "But in that singularly uninhibited region of court records, newspaper items, plantation letters, and tales told by exhausted and defenseless fugitives, another picture is disclosed. The same weapons of tyranny, the same struggle to be free have not passed away, and now and then, they tell a story that is part of the world's cruelty and the world's perpetual desire to find a fuller way of life." Henrietta Buckmaster, Let My People Go. p. 2 . *In the following ten or eleven pages an attempt will be made to picture in broad outlines the general trend of changes from feudalism to capitalism— from feudal political forms to representative government. These changes took place in all countries of Europe, but' not at the same time. It would be misleading, then, if specific dates for specific changes were given. Changes came first in England, the countries on the continent following England in this general development according to the internal conditions peculiar to each country and to the relationship each country bore to the rest of the world. It should be emphasized that econo­ mic factors were not the only ones instrumental in bringing about political change. For a well-rounded picture, certain­ ly, the religious, scientific, philosophical, and educational influences must be considered.


During the long medieval period the great mass of man­ kind was submerged in a state of serfdom. wholly static.

Life was almost

By and large, the economy was self-contained

within the narrow geographic boundaries of the feudal manors. The social and economic classes were more or less fixed. There was, however, within the hierarchy of classes, dominated from the top by a handful of clergy and nobility and extending dov/n to the peasant rooted to the soil, a small group of "free" men who travelled from bazaar to bazaar and from fair to fair. These men brought with them wares to sell— materials and ob­ jects they had acquired from distant places.

They were the

peddlers or travelling salesmen of their day and it was they who unknowingly served as the spearhead in the drive towards a new social order— capitalism.^ 1. "The pervasive aspects of feudalism were status and service. The manor and the gild were the nuclei of a great culture which had stability and resistance to change as its dominant characteristics. The great Ghurch was the cen­ tral government which recognized no lay boundaries and which supplied the Ideology of the entire feudal pattern. The duty of every child born into this culture was to fill a predetermined place in society by serving some lord or master in such a way as to prove his worthiness to graduate into the everlasting life of an ordered heaven. The motive, therefore, was not acquisition or worldly gain but salvation in return for service and devotion. In such a stratified and custom-dominated culture one might easily suppose that change was im­ possible. To the average man of the day change was some­ thing to be abhorred, since it might not only rob him of his meager subsistence but also destroy his chances of gaining the ultimate reward of celestial happiness. But, solid as was the structure of feudalism, there were certain forces which, within the space of two centuries, undermined its chief institutions and laid the basis for a new world culture. In certain small centers were groups of people who had no 'authentic' place in the great feudal complex and who sought to gain a living by supplying the rare commodities which the priests and


As the years drifted by this mercantile or salesman class grew in numbers because here was an opportunity to live a fuller life, enjoy luxuries, see the world.


travelled all over Europe picking up bargains here and sell­ ing them at substantial profits there.

Then when the Crusades

opened up a new world to Europe and Marco Polo returned from his foraging in China the merchants travelled to these new lands for merchandise.

Cities grew, banking-houses flourished,

new lands v/ere discovered, ship-building boomed, manufacturing increased, domestic products competed with imported commodi­ ties.

In short, within the framework of feudal society

capitalism began its development.'*' nobles desired but which only the 'outside world' provided. Tills trickle of trade presently grew into a flood which swept away a great social system and ushered one of mightier proportions." Dixon and Eberhart, 0 £. clt., pp. 238-239. 1. "We have spoken of new forces at work within the old forms. These forces v/ere many rather than simple, but they all bore a close relation to the fundamental force which we have already seen bringing the barbarians out of their pioneering ignorance and building the thirteenth century. This is the economic growth of European society that made the towns and was now making the nations. It is trade and commerce and material riches that can alone explain the possibility of the rich and diversified civilization of Medicean Florence or the France of Francis I or the Germany of Luther or the Netherlands of Erasmus, just as these things had founded Perlclean Athens and Imperial Rome." John Herman Randall, Jr., The. Making of the Modern Mind, pp. 112-113. "This new spirit consisted at bottom in an increasing interest in human life as it can be lived upon earth, within the bourn of time and space, and without neces­ sary reference to any other destiny in the beyond or hereafter." Ibid., pp. 114-115. "It meant that when society offered more than a rude mining-camp existence of blood and toil, the monastic

There was one big obstacle, however, blocking the path to a fuller development of mercantile enterprise.

The mer­

chant could not travel very many miles without having to pay tolls, or fees, or import duties to the feudal lords for per­ mission to sell in their domains.

This was not only very

annoying but these tolls cut deeply into profits.

In addition,

a merchant's entire consignment might be hijacked on the road by racketeers.

In time, something drastic had to be done to

permit the free flow of trade and to protect merchants' pro­ perty.^temper declined, and gave way to a new and vital per­ ception of the dignity of man, of the sweetness and glory of being a rational animal." Ibid., p. 115. 1. "The purely physical and financial obstacles in the way of both internal and foreign commerce partly explain their undeveloped state . . . . The Roman road system had been abandoned and the roads had fallen into disrepair. Al­ most all that remained in many areas were the routes of the old roads. These were still followed. But the highways themselves had, for the most part, changed beyond recognition. Dirt roads, that were deep in mud or dust, according to the season, had replaced the splendid stone highways of Roman times . . . . From the twelfth century onward, however, there were some notable improvements in road-building. While these medieval roads were far inferior to the old Roman roads, they were easier to repair . . . . In the Carolinglan period and the tenth century a considerable revolution took place . . . . due to the invention of the modern horse collar and the introduction of horseshoeing . . . . After the twelfth century carts and wagons were fairly widely used . . . . These wagons were yet often over­ turned because of the ruts and the usual miserable con­ dition of the roads. This exposed the merchant to another annoyance. For the feudal G-rundruhrrecht . . . . permitted the lord of the locality to appropriate the goods that fell to the ground by accident. "The bridges were not only as poor as the roads, but they were scarcer . . . . An added grievance lay in the tolls that the merchant or traveler was forced to pay when he used such bridges, fords, and ferries . . . . The feudal lords also exacted tolls for the use of the roads pass­


So, if commerce were to be allowed to develop, feudal­ ism had to give way.

The many small feudal baronies, each

with its ovm tariff barriers, were broken up.

Small political

units were incorporated into larger political units.


came to rule over strong centralized governments and the absolute powers of the lesser nobility over their small pri­ vate domains were curtailed.

By the sixteenth century the

formation of the modern European national state had begun. Trade could now flourish with fewer restrictions.'*' ing through their domains . . . . compelled the mer­ chants to pay for and accept the protection of aimed escorts. A tax was levied on peddlers who traveled on foot and carried their goods on their backs . . . . In addition the feudal lords demanded a host of other dues and taxes [cm commodities, sales and markets3 . . . . All these obstacles, arising from the very nature of the feudal order itself, unquestionably served as checks on trade. They also tended to stifle contacts between one locality and another. With the beginnings of strong central government, some of these feudal hindrances to trade were lessened, and the v/orst of them began to disappear. "Perhaps worse than the inconveniences and the physical difficulties and damages of travel was the constant threat to life and property by highway-men . . . . Granting that it was the robberies and not the safe journeys which were usually recorded, it appears, nevertheless, that the merchant carried on his busi­ ness only at great risks of life and property." Barnes, 0£. clt., pp. 167-168. 1. "Commerce, seeking new worlds to conquer, found India and America, and simultaneously trade changed from luxuries to staples. Towns proved too small as units; trade must be national in scope to hold colonial empires . . . . "With the magnified power of money and commerce, those who lived by commerce and money became more and more a political and social power. No longer was the aim of society the service of God in Christian love, but national prosperity for the middle class." Randall, op. clt., pp. 113-114. "The rise of capitalism as applied to agriculture, and the decline of serfdom and its replacement by some scheme

11 1

But there still were restrictions.

During the next

two centuries trading operations were becoming so large that individuals operating alone could not handle them.


of men were formed, many persons pooling their resources so that large expeditions could be financed.

Operations extended

farther from home and on an increasing scale.

The number of

people involved in this new way of life steadily grew.


amassed great wealth and their influence on the life of the people assumed ever greater Importance.

Again, hov;ever, the

interests of these business men collided with the policies of political government. The king's rule had divine sanction— or so said the kings.

They were not responsible to the people.

make laws as they saw fit.

They could

It was their prerogative to enjoy

what wealth and luxury they could squeeze out of their sub­ jects.

They and the titled aristocracy, therefore, feared and

hated the rising power of the "vulgar" shopkeepers and mer­ chants and would do nothing to help them in their "nefarious traffic." of tenantry or hired laborers, altered fundamentally the basis of economic power. The expansion of commerce to a national scale created a demand from the middle class for the abolition of private warfare and petty restrictions on trading, and strong national military support in opening up the new trade routes . East and West— that is, a demand for the order, uniformity, and power of a strong centralized state . . . . there was developed the theory of the divine right of kings . . . . the theory of the absolute sovereignty of the territorial monarch." Ibid., pp. 180-181. "In the later Middle Ages towns developed as centers of trade and industry. There emerged a powerful and


But business was business.

It needed, above all else,

a government which looked kindly upon the necessity for busi­ ness expansion.

What better way to guarantee such a sane

kind of government than to extend the right to participate in the government to the business men themselves?

So there was

propaganda and agitation against the theory of the Divine Right of Kings and for the worldly rights of man.-*-

ambitious 'middle class,' composed of the practical, hard-headed burghers who literally stood in the middle of the social order, between feudal lords and peasant serfs. They desired a government that would guarantee peace and order— in short, one that would be good for their business. They wrested political and economic concessions from the feudal nobility, and they gener­ ally supported the king and the rising national state against the feudal hierarchy. The townsmen found full self-expression in trade and industry. They were earthminded and accepted the world and its opportunities gladly. They rejected the medieval Ghurch notion of the earth as a vale of tears from which the restless soul yearned to escape to the heaven from which it had come. They emphasized a new individualism which gradu­ ally broke the bonds of medieval class disciplines. "Wittke, op. cit.. p. 9. 1. "Now, the philosophers and political pamphleteers who gave form to the liberal ideas did not do so in a vacuum of metaphysical abstraction. The society of their day was beset by change, confusion, conflict and uncertainty as is ours at present. The feudal system,with its static arrangement of classes and its relatively fixed economic relationships, was breaking up. The rebirth of science, the discovery and settlement of the new world, the extension of commerce and the growth of manufacture had laid the groundwork for new institutions. But the old framework of government and of ideas did not allow full scope for these new growths or for the per­ sons who embodied them. The doctrines on which the old order was built supported the authority of the church, the nobles, the king and the guild craftsmen, while they left little place for the peasant or freehold proprietor of land, the employer of labor, the accumu­ lator of capital, the banker or the merchant capitalist." George Soule, Ifca Future Liberty, p. 35.


Workers and artisans in the shops, peasants in the fields, and the "bourgeoisie" in the cities rose to the oc­ casion and demanded rights which had never been theirs before.1

And one after another of the "divine" rulers

either capitulated or were decapitated.

The bourgeoisie

became the new rulers and republics or constitutional mon­ archies were set up.

Representative government came into

existence "as the result of revolutions extending from 1045 o in England to 1905 in Russia." The general trend from feudal economy to capitalist economy, so briefly sketched here, did not proceed smoothly and uniformly throughout all of Europe. 1

Indeed, for many

. "This nationalistic or patriotic sentiment is such a commonplace today that we can hardly realize it is not rooted in human nature, but first appeared at a fairly definite era in European history. It explains how the middle cla.ss was able to gain popular support for the social and political changes they advocated; without it, it is doubtful if all their, economic power would have availed them in a society still over­ whelmingly agricultural." Randall, op. clt.. pp. 173174.

2. "In politics there were equally striking changes. The decentralization, weakness, and provincialism that had characterized the medieval feudal monarchies gave way before the rising tide of nationalism. This was effectively promoted by the religious changes of the sixteenth century and by the economic and financial developments associated with the new era of discovery and trade. The national state supplanted the feudal monarchy. It was first presided over by well-nigh absolute monarchs. The growing middle class soon found their rule burdensome and restrictive. There­ fore, when the middle class became powerful enough, it challenged this absolute royal dominion and brought into existence representative government as the result of revolutions extending from 1045 in England to 1905 in Russia. Following upon this revolt of the middle class came the demand of'the masses for participation in government, thus giving rise to the movement in be­ half of democracy." Barnes, 0£. cit., p. 208.


years feudalism existed side by side with capitalism.


the people were still suffering under the yoke of feudal despotism in one country, the people in another had already burst the old political bonds and embarked upon a less re­ strictive course. Capitalism gave to people a greater abundance of material wealth.

It permitted a greater opportunity for

individual initiative and enterprise. deadening weight of tradition. ment of science. pression.

It freed man from the

It stimulated the develop­

It permitted man a greater freedom of ex­

So men fought for it.

The philosophers of the

time gave voice to the common man's aspirations for freedom. Principles of democracy emerged. defined.

Democratic rights were

And so in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

our modern concepts of democracy were formulated. Although the philosophers talked in terms of "all men," actually political democracy in those pre-industrial revolution days applied only to a small minority of the population— the property-owning middle class.

It was they who gained the

right to participate in government and it was they who were most energetic in denying the same right to the lower classes.^ 1. "The tillers of the soil wanted freedom to own land and sell their produce; the manufacturers wanted to escape the regulations of guilds, restrictive laws and royal monopo­ lies; the merchants wanted permission to trade where they pleased; the money-lenders wanted to be allowed to amass gains out of interest, instead of being looked down upon as usurers. The members of the emergent business comnniriy.ty, needed a stable government controlled by .themselves, so that they need not be subjected to the extravagances, whims and dynastic quarrels of the old ruling classes. But


But the Industrial Revolution, brought about by the in­ vention and use of power-driven machinery, effected new con­ ditions in the economic and social structure.


grew in number and size requiring larger numbers of men, women, and children to tend the machines and work in the mines.

This industrial working class or "proletariat." be­

came a new spearhead in the drive for social change.^ The miserable conditions under which these people were forced to work and live— the long working day, the meager pay, the dingy and unhealthy factories, the wretched living quarters, the inhuman exploitation— forced the workers to band together to alleviate their common plight.

It was

their turn now to fight for some of the rights which the middle class had already gained.

And so, by the end of the

nineteenth century, most of the V/estern nations extended the democratic right to participate in government to all men in setting up new regimes they took care that it was only their liberties to do what they wanted that were protected. The masses we re long excluded from the franchise, and the property rights of the church or noble landlords were not respected. What they actually did was not to replace autocracy with freedom, but to replace freedom for the feudal system with freedom for growing capitalism." Soule, ojd. clt.. p. 30. 1. "The domination of the bourgeoisie in politics today is nothing more than a manifestation of the fundamental truism that economic factors are primary and political elements secondary and derivative. In oriental, classi­ cal, and medieval times the agrarian aristocracy pre­ vailed in political life. The ascendancy of the business classes in politics today is but a reflection of their triumph in m o d e m society. The proletarian domination in Russia is proof that if the workers and oeasants attain sufficient power, politics will then express the aspirations and ideals of the classes that today are still in a semiservile position in bourgeois states." Barnes, op. cit., p. 5 1 9 .


regardless of property ownership.1 Although political rights have loomed large in importtense as man has continued his struggles for a more satisfying life the evolution of the democratic idea is marked by the inclusion of other rights besides the right to vote.


Greeks not only gave us the name "democracy,1’ but also the belief in reason and freedom. in popular government.

The Romans contributed faith

The teachings of Christianity erapha—

sized the equality of the worth of man.

The twelfth- and

thirteenth-century Renaissance left as its heritage the desire for knowledge and culture.

The reformation of the sixteenth

and seventeenth centuries contributed freedom of conscience. The Puritan Revolution in seventeenth-century England not only reaffirmed this desire for freedom of conscience, but left the middle class with the right to vote— political democracy based upon private property was established.


inspired, the Americana colonies fought for their freedom and gave to mankind the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

This was followed within a few years by the French

Revolution and its Declaration of the Rights of Man. 1. "Without either the vote or the right to combine, the worker could not force either industry or the state to lessen the risks of injury and unemployment or to grant a living wage. "Therefore, one of the leading political aspirations of the proletariat during the nineteenth century was the realiza­ tion of universal suffrage. At the opening of the century, the masses were everywhere deprived of suffrage; at its close they had gained this right in almost every Western country." Ibid., p. 517.


Today we are the inheritors of a democratic tradition which was "bequeathed to us-by many peoples living in many lands over a period of many centuries.

Perhaps the most out­

standing events in history are those achievements which have contributed to man's progress toward a more complete demo­ cratic life. and struggle.

Every such accomplishment was gained by sacrifice And every such achievement was follov/ed by

attempts to destroy it.

Progress was followed by reaction

(not always successful) but reaction was as Inevitably followed by further progress. The struggles of the American revolutionaries for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the sufferings of the French revolutionaries to achieve liberty, equality, and fraternity have continued to serve as the inspiration and guide to mankind. When the heroic combat was over and our young Republic had settled down to the task of actually putting into practice what had been so fervently preached, it was discovered that only the property owners were in political control.


like Webster, Story, and Marshall still questioned the feasi­ bility of letting everybody vote.

Some agreed with Chancellor

Kent of New York, who feared that; universal suffrage would Jeopardize property and put it 'into the power of the poor and the profligate to control the affluent'.



0 £.

cit., p. 28.



But conditions of life during the early decades of our history were rapidly changing.

In the East manufacturing and

trade were developing and in the West pioneers were opening up the continent.


new conditions were producing a new democratic spirit, a new generation of political leaders arose, more venturesome, less timid, and.more democratic than many of their elders. On the Eastern seaboard labor was becoming articulate, as workers clamored for a larger share in govern­ ment and better working and living conditions. In the new West a new America was being hammered out on the anvil of the advancing frontier. Ruggedness, independence, self-reliance, and an optimistic equalitarlanism were character­ istics of the American pioneer and had an im­ mediate effect upon the development of American democracy. Westerners combined with the Eastern proletariat to demand political and economic changes of great consequence for the future of the United States. With a virgin continent to be exploited, there was an abundance of opportunity for individual enterprise and in­ itiative.

Equality of economic opportunity really applied to

large sections of the population.

The democratic ideal as

expressed by Jefferson was in terms of the economically inde­ pendent farmer and pioneer, for he recognized that an essential p basis for democracy is economic security. 1. Ibid., p. 26. 2. hAs we have seen, Jefferson, the apostle of the American dream, did not believe in the possibility of realizing it except in a country in which the vast bulk of citizens were independent farmers, owning their own farms. He believed very firmly that a great self-governing democ­ racy- could not survive the rise of a town, wage-earning proletariat. So far as our story has gone, the Jeffer­ sonian democracy was safe. We have seen that its believ­ ers had risen twice to repel what they had felt to be attacks on it, and had elected Jefferson himself in 1800 and Jackson in 1828. Because economic and political

19 By the end of the nineteenth century the frontier was finally closed.

Sturdy pioneers and farmers had settled on

virgin land and together with Industrial capitalists and workers had ccvquered the country from coast to coast.


available exploitable territory had finally been taken. As the frontier was being pushed westward tremendous quantities and numerous varieties of natural resources were becoming available.

A rapidly increasing population had to

be fed, clothed, sheltered.

The manufacture of material

goods in the northern industrial centers and the cultivation of agricultural products in the expanding West grew with great rapidity.

Transportation facilities developed to move goods

over great distances.

An ever-growing army of workers was

needed in the mills, the mines, and the railroads.

In the

30?s, 40*s and 50's sturdy foreigners were imported from Europe, since the domestic population could not supply the necessary labor.1

King Cotton, residing in the serai-feudal

democracy had advanced together, it was still assumed, putting the cart before the horse, that economic democ­ r a c y was the result of political, and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— in a word ,1 opportunity*in its widest sense— would be assured to the people at large by manhood suffrage. In 1840, out of a total working population of 4,800,000, over 3,700,000 were still en­ gaged in agriculture. The next largest figure, that of nearly 800,000 in manufacturing*was, however, becom­ ing ominous, especially as more than 520,000 of these were concentrated in. the Northern States." James Truslow Adams, The Epic &£ America, p. 177. 1. "The problem was labor. Machinery, markets, transportation, were now ready. But fortunes could not be made without hands who would work for wages. Not only was the supply of native American women and children Inadequate, but, as the mill owners became more rapacious and the con­ ditions of work less attractive, the native American was largely driven out of the factories . . . ." Ibid.. p. 178. ----

20 South with its slave labor, resisted the advance of industrial enterprise.

It saw in the growing strength of the northern

business class a real threat to its own dominant position in national government. The Second American Revolution, while destroying the economic foundation of the slave-owning aristoc­ racy-,. assured the triumph of business enterprise. As if to add irony to defeat, the very war which the planters precipitated in an effort to avoid their doom augmented the fortunes of the capitalist class from whose jurisdiction they had tried to escape. Through financing the federal government end furnishing supplies to its armies, northern leaders in banking and industry reaped profits far greater than they had ever yet gathered during four years of peace. When the long military struggle came to an end they had accumulated huge masses of capital and were ready to march resolute­ ly forward to the conquest of the oontinent— to the exploitation of the most marvelous natural endowment ever bestov/ed by fortune on any nation. Following the Civil War, especially after the turn of the century, the ownership and control of the means of pro­ duction were gradually becoming concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

Corporations, trusts, monopolies, holding com­

panies, and interlocking directorates were being developed, so that now corporate enterprise is the dominant means of economic endeavor.

Opportunities for the individual to engage

in profitable business on his own have become increasingly rare. Even the farmers, the erstwhiie backbone of the nation, lost much of their land to banks and insurance companies during the 1930's because they could not pay off the mortgage.

The days

of "rugged individualism" have passed and the need for some kind of cooperative endeavor seems to be evident. 1. Charles A. and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civiliza­ tion. Vol. II, p. 160.


The expansion of industrial production was marked by a growing inequality in the distribution of material wealth, even though the average standard of living was rising.


1929, when production had reached a peak, approximately 21 per cent, of the population received as its share of the total income $1 , 0 0 0 or less;


per cent, received from $1 , 0 0 0 to

$1,500; 28 per cent, received between $1,500 and $2,500; 22 per cent, were allotted $2,500 to $5,000; 5.7 per cent, re­ ceived from $5,000 to $10,000; and 2.5 per cent, received over $10,000.

The great majority of people, in fact 92 per

cent., received less than $5,000 a year, and approximately 75 per cent, received $2,500 or less.

This indicated, accord­

ing to Moulton, who gathered these data,^ that even in the banner year of 1929 a large majority of the American people had hardly enough money with which to secure the bare necessi­ ties for existence. If the distribution of the actual ownership of the means of production— the productive wealth of the country— is considered, a similar condition is revealed.

For example, in

1928, 32,500,000 wage-workers and clerical employees (in fact, 08 per cent, of all the people gainfully occupied) did own income-yielding wealth.

But, they owned only 4.7 per cent, of

the total amount of such property. people, or less than


On the other hand, 382,000

per cent, of the gainfully occupied,

owned 46 per cent, of all income-yielding wealth.

The uneven

distribution of the ownership of all liquid wealth— cash,


. Harold G. Moulton, Economic Progress Without Economic Revolution, Fortune Magazine. November, 1935, pp. 77-81,


insurance, stocks and bonds, and savings deposits— is partic­ ularly


In 1929, only 1 per cent, of the people owned

83 per cent, of such wealth.1

Again, considering corporate

stock ownership alone a similar situation is discovered.


the 3,750,000 stockholders in 1928, 325,000, or less than 1 2

per cent., owned 80 per cent, of all corporation stock.


mediately after 1929 the conditions suggested by these figures became even more distressing for the great majority of the population. The expansion of industrial production was marked by a tremendous growth in the ability and capacity to produce material wealth; it was accompanied, however, by failure to utilize to the fullest our accumulated scientific, technologi­ cal, and labor skills and industrial and agricultural plant and resources.

Many studies were made revealing the fact

that if our material and human resources had been used, the quantity of physical goods produced could have been increased

1. Lewis Corey, The Crisis o£ the Middle Class, pp.232^233. 2. Ibid., p. 189. 3. h'The actual' achievements of applied science and techniques, great as they seem, should not hide the fact that they represent but a fraction of what could be done by utili­ zing existing technical knowledge and an infinitesimal part of what the new theories of the twentieth century could do, if and when they are applied . . . . Faraday's discovery of electromagnetic induction in 1831 did not begin to be applied to industry until 1882, when Edison built the first power plant and we cannot yet say that electric power has reached anything like its full devel­ opment. The great discoveries of the twentieth century have not yet found their way into practice. One of the chief problems that faces us. is to make the time-gap between theoretical discoveries and their application as short as possible. Y/e can already anticipate what some of these applications might be and form some idea of the trends of further developments." Sir Daniel Hall et al., The Frustration of Science, p. 4 7 . *



If the accumulated evidence is to be trusted,

our total.peacetime production could have been sufficient to to furnish all of the necessities and some of the luxuries to every person in the nation, with an actual reduction in the working day. With the ownership and control of the productive machinery in the hands of a relatively small group of people, many of v/hom apparently were in business to produce, more for 2 the sake of profit than for general use, plans and schemes were offered to correct this situation.

For it was firmly

believed by many that, No man is free who is economically enchained, and the industrial revolution makes the economic gap between a handful of entrenched individuals and groups and the great mass of the population wider every day. For the submerged two-thirds the question is larger than merely wringing a

1. E. G-. Nourse and others, America’s Capacity to Produce: M. Leven and others, America’s Capacity to Consume: H. G. Moulton, Formation of Capital: H. G. Moulton, Income and Economic Progress; Harold Loeb and others, dhart of Plenty; Ryllis S. (roslln, Rich Man. Poor Man: Stuart Chase, Economy of Abundance. 2. "Again,the business man is usually Inspired by an intense desire for profits at all costs, regardless of the con­ sequences, a desire that may easily descend to mere greed that recks not what comes of it. He will support ♦reform’if it is not too near at hand; Dicken's Mrs. Jellyby, who zealously labored for the blacks in Africa but was blind to nearer .suffering, is all too typical. The good Bishop Wilberforce, the apostle of negro emanci­ pation, had only Christian resignation to offer to the factory han. cit•, pp. 269-270.

of the pioneers in the West brought into being the Jacksonian period of social advance.


There are always two sides to an argument.

If the poor

were forced to fight for educational opportunity there must have been those anxious that this opportunity should not be granted.

After the Revolution men of wealth were in the saddle

with the reins of government in their hands.

To rule was the

right of property owners— to obey was the duty of the masses.2 1. "Meanwhile a great democratic surge was rising throughout the country (and in Europe as well). Especially in the cities, laboring people were demanding that democracy mean equality of opportunity for all. It was in this period that manhood suffrage became the rule In the states. It was in connection with this rising tide of .democracy that free schools were established as the American educational way." William H. Kilpatrick, ed., 3&e teacher and Society, The John Dewey Society, First Yearbook, p. 20. 2. "But this notable document Lthe Declaration of Independence! merely stated an Ideal, to v/hich the nation could aspire, but not an accomplished reality. All the signers of the Immortal Declaration held slaves or came from states where slavery was legal. One-sixth of the population of 1776 were slaves; one-half— the women— were totally disfranchised and had few legal rights. Only part of the male population voted, and a still smaller part had the right to hold office. Property, religion, and taxes were the tests for voting and offlceholding. In New York political power was vested in about eight per cent of the people; in Massachusetts it was limited "to perhaps double that number. The Revolutionary years and the postwar period of readjustment provided the first real trial for self-government on a large scale, and during that critical period, marked by lawlessness, social unrest, debtor's insurrections, and ineffective govern­ ment, it was not at all clear that a general breakdown of law and order could be averted. The first experi­ ment with democratic federalism proved a failure. "The Constitution of 1787 was a second attempt to deal more wisely with the problem of reconciling efficiency with liberty and authority with freedom. The United States Constitution was the reaction of substantial, thoughtful men to what they believed were the 'excesses of democracy' of the revolutionary period. Leaders like Gerry Mason


51 Give these people access to knowledge and they might challenge their rulers.

Men of wealth and power provided education for

their own children in private schools and colleges.


should they provide education for the children of the poor '1

as well?

The opposition to the establishment of free tax-supported state-controlled schools was strong and bitter during the 1820's and 1830's.

The arguments were many.

Taxation is merely con­

fiscation of property; the institution of private property is Morris, Sherman, Hamilton, and many others believed that the evils of the day could be explained by*the 'levelring spirit* abroad in the land and by 'the turbulence and follies of democracy. * In many ways the original Gonstltution was a conservative reaction against the implications of the ideology of the Declaration of 1776 and the leaders of the Revolution. The first forty years of American politics were marked by an atmosphere of con­ siderable dignity and conservatism in government, as the aristocrats of the Virginia dynasty and of New England held sway over national affairs and laid the groundwork for an enduring federalism." Carl Frederick Wittke, Democracy la Different, pp. 24-26. 1. "Third were a group of complacent well-to-do. Their children, these counted, were already well cared for in available private schools and academies* why bother (they said) about free schools; as for the poor, the worthy among them could, and would in our marvelous country, easily accumulate enough to provide education for their children; the remainder, the worthless poor, had always been ignorant and illiterate and would be so to the end of time; it was their nature; even the Bible had said, (so they claimed) that these were 'with us always'; as for the idea of taxing the thrifty to edu­ cate this worthless poor, it was both unjust and unwise. Indeed, education was not properly a governmental func­ tion anyhow; the best current opinion of that day (these men could truly quote) restricted the province of govern­ ment to keeping order and enforcing contracts. Least governed was best governed. So from various considera­ tions and excuses this (jrell-to-do} group opposed the innovation of tax-supported schools." Kilpatrick, op. cit. pp. 13-14. -*■ ----’


sacred; tilling the soil, digging a ditch, or running a machine requires no schooling; schooling is a detriment and a waste of time for the farmer and mechanic.

On July 10,

1830 the National Gazette, of Philadelphia,^ put it this way: The "peasant? must labor during those hours of the day, which his wealthy neighbor can give to the-ab­ stract culture of his mind; otherwise, the earth would not yield enough for the subsistence'of' all: the mechanic cannot abandon the operations of his trade,for general studies; if he should, most of the conveniences of life and objects of exchange would be wanting; langour, decay, poverty, dis­ content would soon be visible among all classes. No government, no statesmen,, no philanthropist,, can furnish what is Incompatible with the very organization and being of civil society.2 One element was needed in the struggle for state sup­ ported and controlled free education before victory could be won— determined, energetic leadership.

This leadership was

provided by men with a burning humanitarian zeal who ardently

1. John R. Commons and Associates, A Documentary History of

Afissksai IM agfrrkd flaslsJfez, vol. v, p. ios.

2. "A little later the National Gazette asserted that *the scheme of universal Equal Education at the expense of the State, is virtually "Agrarianism." It would be a compulsory application of the means of the richer, for the direct use of the poorer classes; and so far an arbitrary division of property among them.* An effort was made in the same article to set ‘the more thriving members of the "mechanical and other working classes"* against the project of public education by telling them that they *would themselves feel the evil of the direct taxation,1 And the author complained that the real reason the 'poorer classes of Philadelphia* did not avail them­ selves 'of our Common Schools,' was 'not that they were averse to the charity education,* but that 'they prefer, or are obliged, to use their offspring at home, or con­ sign them to manufactortee*. " John R. Commons and Associates, History of Labour in the United States. Vol. I, pp. 229-230.

\ 53

believed that educational opportunity should not be confined to the aristocratic few but should be made available to all. Educators like Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, Caleb Mills, and Calvin Wiley and political leaders, such as Thaddeus Stevens, DeWitt Clinton, and Abraham Lincoln made articulate the striv­ ings and aspirations of the people.

Educational and political

leaders of the early and middle nineteenth century attacked their foes and aroused state legislatures to action by a barrage of fact and argument that finally helped to beat down the opposition.


The most potent arguments were these— property rights would not be secure if the newly enfranchized propertlless citizens were kept in ignorance; citizenship responsibilities and the right use of the ballot must be taught not only to the native population but to the growing hordes of immigrants from Europe; education would serve as a panacea "for pauperism and for the revolutionary distempers imported from Old World 1. "The long and acrimonious struggle for free public schools is another illustration of the evolution of democratic theory in America. Jefferson and Madison had pointed out that a democracy can endure only if it is firmly grounded in an intelligent, well-informed citizenry, and Madison spoke of education as the chief 'hook' on which democratic government must hang. The common people, and especially the organized workers, to whose agitation the friends of public education owe an ever­ lasting debt of gratitude, demanded a system of educa­ tion that would be free and equal for the sons and daughters of the rich and the poor alike and that would be maintained by public taxation. Their opponents thundered against what they called this 'arbitrary divi­ sion of property* and wondered who would be left to do the work of the world if all should go to school. They were disturbed lest American workingmen be deprived of one of their chief inducements to thrift; namely, 'the hope of earning the means of educating their children I . 1 Workingmen's conventions replied, 'Our government is



Monarchies, for the growing radicalism among the ranks of American lahor, for the spread of socialistic and anarchistic ideas, and for the opposition of the ignorant to the new scientific requirements of public health. So the relentless logic of historical advance could not be denied.

The expansion of industry, creating national

wealth which was steadily increasing; the expansion of in­ dustry, creating also a_growing class of propertiless workers; the extension of the nation westward, creating large numbers of independent ambitious farmers; the enfranchisement of the white working class and faimers; the attainment by the workers of somewhat better conditions of life and labor; the growing consciousness of the underpr ivileged that the promises of the Revolution of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness C should apply to them; the agitation and propagandizing by educational leaders and humanitarians for tax-supported public schools; and the support which broad-minded philanthropic republican; our education should be equally so.1 Educational statesmen like Barnard and Horace Mann and political leaders like DeWltt Clinton and Thaddeus Stevens and Abraham Lincoln agreed with them, and in the end the publlc-school system, pushed higher and farther by each succeeding generation, became the keystone of American democracy." Wittke, op. cit., pp. 27-28. 1. Charles A. and Mary R. Beard, Rise Q l American Civili­ zation. Vol. I, pp. 812-815. 2. "One of 'the most broadly important of the movements was that in education. Even in New England,where opportuni­ ties for free education of the very young had been greater than elsewhere, the laws were much better and more liberal than was the actual practice. Chiefly on account of taxation, the rich almost everywhere opposed free educa­ tion, and the movement developed from the working class. The American system of education is one of the fruits of


wealthy men gave to the cause were among the forces, and drives necessaxy for the attainment of increased educational opportuni­ ty*.

"By 1850 . . . .

the principle of public support of

schools had been generally accepted in all except the slaveholding states, and in some of these (notably North Carolina) *1

it was accepted and partly applied."

The acceptance of the principle of public support of schools is one thing. ciple is another.

The complete application of that prin­

The financial support of schools comes from

taxation and taxation is still, viewed by many as a method of talcing money from them and giving it to others.


support of public education has not yet been accomplished because many people still do not believe in education and because some of those who control the wealth of the country have resisted efforts to have them part with it for such pur­ poses.2 Their children have been cared for by expensive wellthe practical working of the American dream." James Truslow Adams, The Epic. o£ America, pp. 195-196. 1. Knight, 0£. clt.. p. 203. 2. "Any proposed change in the taxing system will be vigorous­ ly opposed by those whose property or income will be levied on to pay the new taxes. Often the opposition will be strong enough to defeat the proposal, however urgently the change is needed. A policy of state aid in education always arouses objections on the part of. certain propertied classes. This is not a new issue. A hundred years ago the advocates of free, publicly supported elementary schools, who would tax the wealth of the district for the common good, were opposed by the wealthy, who saw no reason to contribute to the education of their neighbors' children. In the inter­ vening time there has been established the principle of taxing neighborhood wealth to supply educational oppor­ tunities to the children of the district, even though those paying the largest taxes send their children to private schools or for other reasons claim to receive

56 equipped private schools.

The children of the less fortunate

could get along with more modest educational fare. In spite of the imposing sums which have "been expended for public education they have never been sufficient to meet the educational needs of all of the children and youth.


ing the nation as a whole it was found in 1940 that from six to seven per cent, of the children of elementary school age and over one-fourth of those of secondary school age were not en­ rolled in school;1 buildings, equipment, and supplies, are woefully inadequate (as judged by the educational program recommended in the following chapters); teachers' salaries in most sections of the country are at rather a low level; the condition of Negro education is even worse than that of white; the number of children enrolled in many city classrooms and in many rural school classrooms is entirely too high (again, according to standards advocated later); the facilities for no direct benefit from the public schools.” Aubrey A. Douglass, The American School System, p. 649. "Time after time the old system of taxation has been con­ demned as Inadequate and unfair by competent authori­ ties. In numerous localities the general property tax broke down under the stress of the economic depression following 1930. Thoroughgoing reform is slow because of the enmity of powerful, vested interests whose opposition has often taken the form of an attack upon the educa­ tional program. In numerous instances boards of educa­ tion, going far beyond what might be called economy, have made serious inroads upon the work of the schools. A reappearance of the old opposition to publicly sup­ ported schools has not made the work of the schools any easier." Ibid., p. 663. 1. Ibid., pp. 6, 18.


the professional preparation of teachers are too meager; public support of educational research and experimentation is at a very low level.

The tremendous size and scope of our

public education facilities should not be belittled.


should the need to observe and correct deficiencies be mini­ mized.

Free, compulsory, universal, adequately financed,

public education has yet to be achieved.

This goal, no doubt,

will be approached as democracy itself grows and expands. A clear view of the current eduoatlonal picture cannot be obtained by looking at the statistical aspects alone.


qualitative as well as the quantitative phases must be con­ sidered.

What is learned, when it is learned, how it is

learned, and why it is learned must be viewed in conjunction with who are taught, by whom

they are taught, how long they

are taught, and where they are taught. An education.promoted by a democracy, in a democracy, and for a democracy should be consistent with the basic principles of a democracy.

Educational institutions should

be conceived as an integral part of the total organic structure of interrelated social agencies which the people fashion to further their advance toward a more complete and satisfying life.

In this large sense education appears to be a means—

and self-realization is the end.

It takes its place alongside

the other means— namely, the economic, political, cultural, recreational, medical, etc.— by which the people consciously or unconsciously endeavor to achieve that end.


Principles & £

V s m s X S & l S L


What education Is consistent with democracy?


democracy permeates the life of the nation to a greater degree than at present, what will be the educational practice? Answers to these questions can be tentatively made.

In fact,

answers to these questions should be made if teachers are to have goals toward which they consciously direct efforts.


this or that proposed educational change a step towards or away from more democracy? which to Judge.

Criteria ought to be set up by

What present practices in curriculum, admin­

istration, supervision, organization, financing should be preserved and improved; what practices should be discarded? Principles should be enunciated and continually used in the critical appraisal of practice. The democratic philosophy of education should harmonize with the democratic philosophy of life.

The characteristics

of education in a democratic state should be determined by the characteristics of the democratic state. The characteristics of democracy outlined at the close of the preceding chapter serve here as a guide to such form­ ulation of democratic educational principles.* 1.


The welfare of the individual would be the concern of the national community; and


the welfare of the national community would be the concern of the individual.

♦It must “ be emphasized that these principles and practices should be considered as possible goals toward which public education might be directed; morever, they are not meant to be thought of as ends which can be immediately attained.

59 The all-fcr-one-and-one-for-all principle would seem to require that every individual, male or female, have the same educational opportunity as every other individual. No hamlet, town, city, state, or section would have in­ ferior buildings, equipment, facilities, or teachers.


nation's educational resources would be distributed equitably throughout the country.

It would be the right and responsibil­

ity of all individuals, communities, and states to pool economic resources in a cooperative endeavor to effect an equitable dis­ tribution of educational facilities.

It would be the right

and responsibility of each individual to utilize the educa­ tional facilities available for his own and his children's development.

Free universal compulsory education would be a

reality. The organized professional body would be deeply interested in and concerned with the general welfare of each teacher. Standards of professional efficiency and effectiveness would be determined by the professional body and individual members assisted in maintaining these standards. The individual teacher would have the right and responsi­ bility to contribute to the welfare of the professional group and submit to its discipline in the maintenance of professidn-al standards.

Furthermore, no attempt is made at this point to Justify the views taken. In the succeeding chapters such attempts are made.

60 The primary objective of the educational program would be to have every learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that the welfare of the Individual Is the responsibil­ ity of all and that the welfare of all Is the responsibility of each Individual, 2.

The economic arrangements of the national community would be such that (a)

every individual, male or female, would have the right, opportunity, and responsibility to contribute according to his talents and abilities to the community1s material, cultural, and spiritual well-being; and


fe'very;'individual' who’ contributed t0' the - y. welfare of the national community would' have the opportunity to enjoy material, cultural, and spiritual well-being.

This principle would seem to imply that every person who entered the teaching profession would be well qualified to do so and that the profession would be open to all who satisfied requirements set by the profession.

Standards for selection

of candidates for admission to professional schools for teachers could be set in accordance with the quantity of teachers needed and the quality of teaching demanded.

Once admitted to the

profession the teacher would receive compensation sufficient to care adequately for personal and professional needs so that efficiency as citizen and worker need not be impaired.


and security in the profession would be guaranteed to all so

61 long as the professional body was satisfied that professional effectiveness was maintained. Throughout the educational structure the various types of functions- and responsibilities would be performed by in­ dividuals best fitted to fulfill the tasks effectively and successfully.

Since a single compensation schedule would

apply to all categories of professional work, changes from one type of position to another could not be made for pur­ poses of increased remuneration. There should be an interdependent and coordinated relationship between educational agencies and the other social agencies of the nation so that occupational and pro­ fessional Job needs could be known.

Educational facilities,

then, could be planned, curricular practices determined, and the extent of the demand for workers in the various vocations ascertained.

Opportunity to prepare for any occupation would

be open to all, depending upon the abilities of the applicant and the requirements for successful performance in the occupa­ tion. A-major, .objective of the educational program would be to have every learner, become imbued with the principle and practice that each person has a contribution to make in the production of goods and services and that his participation is recognized as being important enough for the collective group to want it con­ tinued. 3.

The political arrangements of the national community would be such that

62 (a)

every individual would have the right, opportunity, and responsibility to express freely his opinions on matters which affected individual and community "welfare}’ and


decislonc~ would b e .made p e a cefullyin ' accordance with the will of the majority.

This principle would seem to guarantee that members of the educational profession would have the same political rights as others and that it would be the responsibility of each per­ son to participate as a citizen in the cooperative management of government. Professional workers would have the right, opportunity, and responsibility to share, along with representatives of the *

community at large,in the determination of educational policies and procedures.

Decisions on all such questions would be made

according to the will of the majority.

It would be the responsi­

bility of all individuals, after they have voiced their opinions, to abide by the decisions of the majority. A ma.1 or objective of the educational program would be to have the, learner become imbued with the principle and practice, that each individual has the right and responsibility to share in the making of declslona and in the solving of problems In matters which concern him and the group and that once a decision la reached everyone should submit peacefully to and abide by the majority decision. 4.

(a) The national community would be alert to the dangers of forceful aggressive action on the part of Individuals within the community and of hostile forces without to deprive the

63 people of their rights, opportunities, and responsibilities; and (b)

the national community would be sympathetic toward the aspirations and efforts of the peoples of other nations in their efforts to gain and maintain control of their own destinies.

This principle would seem to demand of the educational profession that it serve the basic interests and rights of the people as a whole by emphasizing the need for rational peace­ ful solution of problems, and by developing respeot for the peoples of other nations. A ma.1or objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become imbued with the principle and practice that the solution of national and international problems should be made through reason not force and that since the peoples of all nations have the same basic human aspirations they should be respected. 5.

The political arrangements of the national community would be such that (a)

elected representatives, delegates, officers, and leaders should act in accordance with the heeds and^wishes of their constituents; and


if they failed to act in accordance with the needs and’wlshfes of their constituents they could, be recalled and replaced.

This principle would seem to assure the educational worker'

that along with all other citizens he would be


protected from irresponsible authority. Those who are led, directed, and supervised would participate in the selection of educational leaders, admin­ istrators, and supervisors and such delegated persons would be answerable to the people selecting them. A malor objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that the person to whom authority is delegated 1s responsible to the delegating body, and that it is the duty and responsibility of ever.v individual to be familiar with the manner in which the delegated representative conducts official duties. 6.


The national community would guarantee that individuals with common interests have the right, opportunity, and responsibility to form and participate in organizations serving those interests; and


the role of leaders would; in’-some-,ways be similar to that of educators— leaders would encourage followers to participate in organi­ zations and assist them in the cooperative solution of problems; leaders would encourage followers to study and acquire greater knowledge to aid in the making of wise deci­ sions; leaders would help followers to become articulate in expressing their desires.

This principle would seem to suggest that the educational profession would induct young people into the ways of collective

65 action and develop in them appropriate qualities of leader­ ship and followership.

Educational workers would be guaran­

teed the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens in Joining organizations. Within the profession educational workers would form organizations of their own for the purpose of considering common problems and expressing group will, A major objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that self-expression is fostered by cooperative participation with others in groups and that the responsibil­ ity of the leaders of organized groups is to help all members develop greater powers of articulation and decision. 7.


The national community, consisting of persons of various races and nationalities,would accord to all the same rights, opportunities, and responsibilities; and


the national community consisting of persons of various religious and non-religious beliefs, would accord to all the same right to worship or not to worship.

This principle would seem to prevent discrimination of any kind against anyone due to his color, race, nationality, or religious attitude.

There would be equal opportunity to

persons of all races, nationalities, and creeds to enter the teaching profession, and no educational opportunity would be denied to anyone due to any of these conditions.


66 Among educational workers no person would be barred from any professional rights, privileges, and responsibilities on account of race, nationality, or religious attitude. A ma.1or objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that all people are of essential worth and that the belief In the Innate dignity of man necessitates respect for W lY A A a a l p.gygpAftUty,. 8.


The national community would consider the welfare of children and youth to be of primary importance to individual and community betteiv ment; and


it would be a major concern of the national community that the special talents, abilities, and potentialities of each individual be dis­ covered and developed.

This principle would seem to aver that the future con­ dition of society depends largely upon the present condition of children and youth.

The educational profession would be a

major agency responsible for the guidance and supervision of the growth and development of young people. The main- function of the educational profession would be to establish and maintain within its province educational con­ ditions whereby each child and youth could develop to the fullest his individual personality. A major objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become imbued with the principle and practice

67 that each young person la Important and wanted and has the right and, responsibility to develop his own Individual poten­ tialities as a jperaon and .as a..citizen. 0*

It would be a major concern of the national community that (a)

scientific method continually enlarge man's knowledge of physical, biological, and social phenomena; and


all' persons1would have convenient a o e W s to accumulated knowledge, so that all could have equal opportunity to gain understanding and to utilize knowledge for the intelligent solution of problems*

This principle would seem to Insure to the educational profession the right, opportunity, and responsibility to engage in the search for knowledge and to make available to everyone all accumulated knowledges. The profession would constantly conduct researches, Investigations, and experiments In areas pertaining to educa­ tion and the educative process and distribute significant findings among all educational workers. A malor objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become imbued with the principle and practice that knowledge is.sought and acquired for understanding and use and that it is the right and responsibility of each individual to acquire and use knowledge consistent with his abilities. 10.

It would be a major concern of the national

68 community that (a)

production in the creative and esthetic arts be continuously advanced; and


b'ppbrtuntty. rtb’ en'jpy th*’creative ahd esthetic arts would be readily available to all*

This principle would seem to indicate that the educa­ tional profession would foster widely the creation and appre­ ciation of artistic endeavor. The profession would have as a major function the discovery and development of musical, artistic, and literary creative abilities and foster in all a desire for and an appreciation of beauty in all forms. A ma.1or objective of the educational program would be to have the learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that opportunity for creative expression and for en­ joyment of the arts are rights belonging to all. 11.

It would be a major concern of the national community that (a)

adequate preventative and curative health facilities and services be available to all; and


all persons would have the right, opportunity, and possibly the responsibility to engage in healthful recreational activities and to maintain physical health to the degree possible.

This principle would seem to place upon the educational profession major responsibilities in the building of healthful

69 living of all children and youth and in the providing of ample opportunities and facilities for games, sports, and athletics. Within the profession the members would have the right, opportunity, and responsibility to maintain personal health and to engage in recreational activities. A malor objective of the educational urogram would be to have the learner become Imbued with the principle and practice that everyone has the right to health services and that it is the responsibility of each person to maintain good health not onl.v for his own sake but also for the sake of others. It is obvious that none of these principles and practices yet prevail in toto in American education.

However, many steps

have been taken in the direction of their fulfillment.


are constantly being effected here and there in the nation In such aspects of educational practice as administration and supervision, curriculum construction, and teacher preparation, which are definitely pointed toward a greater degree of democ­ racy

In education. Educational leaders, interested in the problem of demo­

cratizing education, are suggesting plans and procedures. Teachers' organizations are becoming more conscious of the Importance of the problem. Some of the present practices, trends, and proposals are consistent with democracy and some are not.

The eleven

educational principles and objectives here formulated will be used as criteria on which to base an appraisal.


Zbs. jferAtaftg In attempting to understand a contemporary condition it is usually helpful to look into the past and trace its development.

Therefore, in essaying an appraisal of present

trends in elementary school curriculum with respect to their democratic and undemocratic aspects a historical review may prove profitable. Since life during the medieval period was almost wholly static— the agricultural economy self-contained, the social and economic classes fairly rigid— life and its problems one day were, In general, like life and its problems the next. The education of the times was controlled by the clergy and reflected this static authoritarian society and served to per­ petuate it.

Recognizing no great dynamic social problems

crying for solution, members of a class so situated could well afford to spend their time speculating about angels on pins; they could with fervency soar into the rarified realm of theological abstractions; they could in all seriousness en­ gage in "dialectical splitting of diabolical hairs."


knowledge, like their society, was static and fixed, and sanctified by authority.

Knowledge and form were ends in

themselves, and the further knowledge and mental activity were

71 removed from the practical, the concrete, and the mundane, the greater became their value and the closer was their approach to "truth."'1’

1. "A distinguished Roman Catholic historian of philosophy has written: ’The thirteenth century believed that it had realized a state of stable equilibrium . . . . Their extraordinary optimism led them to believe they had ar­ rived at a state close to perfection.1" G. G. Coulton, Medieval Panorama, p. 457. "1$ then, the final happiness of man does not consist in those exterior advantages which are called goods of fortune, nor in goods of the body, nor in goods of the soul in its sentient part, nor in the intellectual part in respect of the moral virtues, nor in the virtues of the practical intellect, called art and prudence, it remains that the final happiness of man consists in the contemplation of truth . . . . This is sought for its own sake, and is directed to no other end beyond itself . . . . For this act also man is more self-sufficient, having less need bf external things . . . ." St. Thomas Aquinas, Slfflffia fisafeca Gentiles. Bk. I, ch. 37; translated by Rlckaby as £ £ God and His Creatures and quoted by John Herman Randall, Jr., The Making of the M o d e m Mlndf p. 95. "The world was a great allegory, whose essential secret was its meaning, not its operation or its causes; it was a hierarchical order, extending from lowest to highest, from stones and trees through man to the choirs upon choirs of angels, Just as society ranged from serf through lord and king to pope; and it was inspired throughout by the desire to fulfill its divine purpose." Ibid., p. 36. "Medievalism is an 'ultimate pattern of mind.* It is primitive mind in its certainties, its assurance of being 'right,' in its logical limitations, and in its detailed assignment of everything to its proper place in the scheme of things. That scheme was established when the world was created: when the Creator 'looked upon the works of his hands and found them g o o d ! * The world thus created is a rational world, and man, by diligent seeking, can find out what he needs to know: how to live in the specific estate to which God has called him, so that at last he may enter into life eternal. Thought and things belong to two distinct realms, but they exactly answer each other. Not until

72 With the breakdown of feudal society, the aspiring middle classes gained access to the colleges and universities* They and their sons could now enjoy the educational opportuni­ ties of the times.

Although these practical business men

required a more utilitarian education they accepted their curricular heritage with little essential change.


Institutions came to exist mainly for the education of "gentle­ men.

Theology and the ancient classical languages remained


Liberal education was still essentially formalistic,

later will it be baldly expressed: 'the laws of thought are the laws of things.1" Joseph K. Hart, Mind In Transition, pp. 193-194. "Practically all "the schools established or built upon In western Europe by the Church between 400 A.D. and 1,400 A.D. gave instruction In Latin . . . . Ti*ue, the schools which the Church established paid little attention to the 'native culture* of the people which these Institu­ tions were designed to serve; generally they taught a language foreign to the understanding of the pupils in the schools. But this was the only language the Church knew. Moreover, these schools were concerned primarily not with the masses of men and women and children, of the time and place, but with those who showed promise of leadership In advancing the alms of life of the dominant group,— In this case leadership in the religio­ sity of the Church. These were characteristics of elementary as of other forms of education in western Europe for many long centuries." Edgar W. Knight, IgfiBtaE Centuries o£ Education, pp. 377-378. 1. "In this time of renewed delight in human life there were gradually formulated two more definite ideals that to this day claim a primary allegiance in our civilization. They are the figure of the gentleman and the picture of the industrious, prosperous commercial society. They are complementary class ideals| the state must be in­ dustrious if individuals can hope to flourish as gentle­ men. The one is pagan and aristocratic and came from Italy; the other is Protestant and industrial and was made in Germany. Both are still supreme, assailed only by the different aims of the awakening working class." Randall, 0£. olt. . pp. 134-135.


abstract, authoritarian, and divorced from the turbulent life process.

The vocational education of the times followed the

same pattern.

Preparation for theology, medicine, and the

law consisted of the mastery of formalistic, dogjnatic, fixed bodies of knowledge. Our own colonial colleges were fashioned after the essentially feudal English institutions.

They were meant

primarily for religious instruction carrying on the educa­ tional traditions of their forerunners.

They concerned them­

selves mainly with the task of disseminating static, abstract, authoritative knowledges.

The student sat, listened to

lectures, and memorized, or sat, read, and memorized.’*' The Latin grammar schools and academies were feeders for the colleges.

The college approach to learning became

their approach, and, for the most part, these private schools served the interests and desires of the wealthy sections of our population.

1. "The colleges did not attempt seriously to achieve unity between the life of the people, and the traditions of academic patterns. 'Life' was largely left on the out­ side. The colleges that were founded even up to the period before the Civil War were more concerned in pre­ serving knowledge and virtue as inseparable objectives of formal education than in transforming them into direct agencies in meeting the fluctuating exigencies of contemporary life." Robert Lincoln Kelly, The American


ap.q.laj,, 2lfi££, P* 25.

"It is also true that, without boasting cfiifc, gureaa3y" educators and ecclesiastics denied freedom to youth. They would mould them to a predetermined pattern. The college curri­ culum was fixed. Orthodoxy was thunderously defined, but there was plenty of lightning to give visibility. The church and the college were under the dispensation of law. No one ever suggested that the students were or ought to be happy." Ibid., p. 44.

74 It is quite understandable that, when educational opportunity was gradually extended to the poorer and younger strata of the nation, the already existing type of curricula, methods of instruction, and attitude toward knowledge should serve as guides.1

Since standards of academic achievement

were originally established by the private liberal arts college, the public high school, when it came into existence, 1. "It is entirely probable that a part of the lack of respect that students are said to have for their college work is due to the fact that in many cases they were called upon merely to exercise memory and not encouraged to think about real problems . . . . The charge, often made by freshmen themselves, that much of their instruction lacks reality and inspiration may not be an unjust charge. The deplorable condition is due largely to want of coordina­ tion in the curriculum and to the disconnected way in which fragmentary information is Imparted in the various subjects which properly are and should be shown to be parts of one great whole . . . . and all observers of conditions must admit that many college courses are iso­ lated from real life and living." Knight, 0£. cit., pp. 328-329. "The commonest form of instruction in collegiate institutions consists of the lecture, the quiz, the term paper, and the final examination. Many a professor has no knowledge of the Individual needs and capabilities of his students, nor is it probable that he would be interested in such information if it were available to him. Content to sow the seeds of knowledge, he excuses himself for lack of results by thinking that only a very small amount of the seed so scattered can possibly lodge in fertile ground. Again, many professors urge their students to 1think*-and at the same time penalize those who do not commit textbooks and lectures to memory." Aubrey A. Douglass, Ifcg. American School System, p. 365. "Education as self-cultivation according to the pattern of the classical tradition has long dominated our institu­ tions of higher learning and is still a potent ideal. Its outlines, however, are frequently blurred, because of the inroads made by the demands of practical life into the life of our colleges • • . • The students are confUsed because the colleges themselves are confused. They


geared its standards to satisfy college requirements.

In turn,

the public elementary school curriculum came to be influenced to a great extent by the educational patterns of the high school. The "cultured gentleman" goal of the private liberal arts col­ lege thus defined in great measure the educational goals of the public schools.^ The liberal arts college has traditionally been the source of supply for teachers of our secondary schools.


the instructors in the early academies were prepared in the traditional liberal arts college, it was quite natural that, when the states extended public education to include the high school, teachers for these newly added schools should come have lost their sensitiveness to the living ideal em­ bodied in the classical tradition. All too often the literary expressions of this ideal are used as material for mechanical manipulation and memorization, on the assumption that this provides a kind of 'discipline1 which automatically imparts the spirit of culture. The m o d e m college with its impressive wealth of offerings ' is in the position of being all dressed up and no place to go. It has neither remained loyal to tfte ideal of classicism nor provided an adequate concept of liberal education to take its place." Boyd Henry Bode. How We Learn, p. 49. 1. "Perhaps the greatest contribution of the colleges to the social order has been in furnishing educational.leader­ ship. This leadership has affected every phase of formal education. The responsibility for this leader­ ship centered on the colleges in the nature of the case, for from those who have received much, much is expected. The turn of events also conspired to place it there. American education began to grow at the top. After the colleges, came the secondary and the element­ ary schools. The problem of the colonial colleges was to preserve and perpetuate racial inheritances. This required a fora of isolation from the physical task of conquering the continent." Kelly, o£. cit., pp. 309-310.

70 from the same source.

There were no other available agencies

for the preparation of high-school teachers.

Here, then, is

another way in which the private liberal arts college, pursuing primarily its traditional role of educating wealthy gentlemen,1 exerted tremendous influence in molding the educational prin­ ciples and practices of our democratically conceived public high schools. The teachers of our public elementary schools have also been affected by the liberal arts college tradition.

As the

public-controlled normal schools developed beyond the secondary


. "Moreover, the business man is woefully ignorant outside his own field; perhaps even in it, if we may Judge by the readiness with which he now listens to the various ‘busi­ ness experts.’ Even of that science which would help him directly he has not had much knowledge; and when his son has been attracted by intellectual interests, it has usually been with the desire to get as far away from his father's occupation as possible, and to study a typically 'useless' leisure class learning. A cardinal example is the great idol of the nineteenth-century English business man, Gladstone, himself the son of a great merchant. H. G. Wells has not unjustly summarized his education; and it must be remembered that he passed for a man of profound erudition. '"Gladstone was a profoundly ignorant man. No doubt Mr. Gladstone knew much and knew many things, and it is just because he did so and was in many respects the fine flower of the education of his period, that his ignorance is so interesting to us. Many Chinese mandarins knew much and many things— beautifully, And were ignorant men. Mr. Gladstone's was not the ignorance of deficiency; but the ignorance of excess, a copious ignorance; it was not a failure to know this or that particular fact, an igno­ rance excusable enough, but a profound and sought-after and established ignorance of reality, so that he did not grasp the bearing of definite facts presented to him or of far-reaching ideas put before him, upon the great issues with which he was concerned. He lived as it were in a luminous and blinding cloud, with no knowledge of ethnology, no vision of history as a whole, misconceiving the record of geology, ignorant of the elementary ideas of biological science, of modern, political, social, and economic science, and modern thought and literature"" Randall, 0£. clt., pp. 604-605.


school level and evolved into teachers colleges, they attempted to take on aspects of the liberal arts college, perhaps to gain "respectability,"1

Isolated and formalistic "cultural" courses

were given; the same technique of counting semester hours was applied; the same methods of grading achievement were utilized; and the same.bookkeeping system of adding credits was inp stalled. Thus through the very nature of the professional 1. "Literally the worst possible course which the teachers colleges of this country can adopt is to follow in the footsteps of the conventional arts college. The hope of securing respectability, by becoming an arts college is one of the most dangerous allurements to which teach­ ers colleges seem to be falling victims. My exhortation to this body is to abandon the traditions of the arts colleges, make a first-hand study of the needs of Ameri­ can schools, invent the curriculum materials which these schools need, prepare for these schools teachers who have a broad outlook and an acquaintance with the larger issues of presentday life, and cultivate the respecta­ bility which comes from creative leadership rather than from imitation." 0. H. Judd, Next Steps in the Improvement of Teacher Training, American Association of Teachers Colleges, Twelfth Yearbook, 1933, p. 31. 2. "Doubtless the suggestions given above Crelative to changes in the instructional program of teachers colleges! appear to be impractical as compared with our neat, standard­ ized, registrar-dominated college programs . . . . He tthe student! has learned to accept as a part of his school life a mass of unrelated, meaningless activities, which perhaps at some vague future time he may come to understand . . . . "And so we think we have provided a college education when we have met the standards of so many hours of languages, social science, science, education, a dash of art and perhaps of music. Vte think we have met these standards when we have herded the students into lecture and quiz sections, where we have checked on attendance and answers to objectives tests, and graded them. We have usually graduated these students although we have known precious little that really matters about them. Many college graduates can remember courses which might well have been called 'Introduction to Nonsense Syllables, 1 and were followed by 'Advanced Hypothetical Verbal Forms.' The conformist students came through


preparation of elementary teachers the patterns of learning of the liberal arts college seem to have had some influence upon the elementary school. Throughout the colonial era and the period of westward expansion, when agriculture was our dominant means of liveli­ hood, the family was the basic economic unit of coloniail and then national life.

During the nineteenth century articles of

food, clothing, and shelter were still being produced within many of the pioneer and village homesteads by members of the family.

The larger the family, the greater was the quantity

of goods produced and the lighter was the burden per member. Children were, economic assets, for they shared in the manu­ facture of material wants.

As a consequence, large families

were typical of the times and cooperative endeavor within the home was essential. Where schools were available for children, attendance was intermittent and, quite often, limited to the winter months. When children were not needed for work at home they went to school to be taught the rudiments of reading, writing, and reckoning.

What to them were perhaps the most essential learn­

ings, however, were acquired at home: tending sheep, carding wool, spinning thread, weaving cloth, making clothes; trapping and skinning animals, tanning skins, making shoes; baking bread, with A's or honor points; the more honest non-conformists were usually busy explaining their •cuts* to the dean." Prances Martin and Nila Banton Smith, Life and Program of the Teacher^Educating Institutions, The John Dewey Society, Fourth Yearbook. 1940, pp. 146-147.


making butter; plowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting; felling trees, building houses, making tools, making furniture; etc., etc.

If, when adults gathered for social or political

purposes, children should be seen but not heard, at least they were there to see and to hear and thus had opportunity to gain some awareness of the problems of community and nation. As factory production was expanding, however, from its small output at the beginning of the nineteenth century to its tremendous volume at the close of the century, the home as a center of manufacture was gradually disappearing.

Prom about

1830 to 1800 when the population was being augmented by the millions of people coming from other countries, factory pro­ duction received its first major stimulus.

The immigrants not

only served as an added market for goods, but also worked in the factories and mines, and on the canals and railroads.


people living in the North and East either had to find work in the new -industries or go West.

Children, who at first had

worked at home and then under Inhuman conditions in the mills, found themselves needed less and less both at home and in the community.

As the century wore on, children, with the exception

of those living on farms, perhaps, were participating less and less in the economic life of home and community— except as con­ sumers.

Children were becoming economic liabilities.

It was

during this period of initial rapid growth in population and Industrial development, that the tax-supported public schools were being established.


With the growth of the population and with the increasing number of children to be cared for, schools grew in size and number.

The school day and the school year were gradually

being made longer to care for those children whose labor was no longer needed.

The original curriculum was being continually

augmented— children could not spend so many hours a day and so many months during the year Just studying the three R's.


new items were added, however, aspects of immediate home and community life were seldom drawn upon to furnish materials for the expanding curriculum.

Rather, the things to be learned, for

the most part, took the foxm of abstract subjects Isolated from each other and from the life processes of the community in which the school existed, much after the fashion of the arts college and the secondary school.

Thus, children, being excluded from

opportunities to share in home and community activities by the growing complexity of economic and social arrangements, were I

not being offered comparable experiences in community and social living within the school.

The elementary school, be­

ginning, as it did, at least partially isolated from the main human stream, continued its more or less insulated course.


was expected that when children completed their scholastic cruise they would be able to plunge into the main stream with efficiency and success. The publicly supported schools came into being during the era of widespread economic opportunity— the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

The westward migration and the

expansion of eastern industrialization which were taking place


at the time furnished an ideal climate for individualistic aggrandizement.

Fathers wanted their sons to have educational

opportunities which they themselves had lacked— opportunities which would enable the sons to achieve material success in the fierce competitive struggle.

Fortunes were being made not

through tilling the soil and tending the machine, but through planning, scheming, manipulating— in short, through using "brains."

The schools came to be looked upon as the agencies

through which the lowly could equip himself to rise in the economic ladder away from menial manual work to a respectable mental occupation.

In the public schools the young reflected

the Individualistic, competitive, acquisitive endeavor of their elders.

Those who could achieve "mental" success were rewarded

and advanced from rung to rung up the scholastic ladder; those who could not were punished and eliminated along the way.^ . The reasons for the dominant role which books played in elementary education have already been indicated; nevertheless, separate consideration should be given to this phenomenon.


centuries in Europe only a very small number of people were able to read.

Books were few and hand^made.

After the invention of

the printing press in the fifteenth century more books became available and the number of people who learned the art of read­ ing increased tremendously.

Access to books, however, was

generally restricted to the privileged classes.

In our own

colonial period and in the early decades of our Republic large 1. George S. Counts. The American Road to Culture. Chapter V.


proportions of the population were illiterate.

Books and

"hook l a m l n ’" were still essentially the possessions of the elite. As the elementary schools developed in this country and educational facilities were extended to larger sections of the population, the lower orders for the first time in any con­ siderable number really had an opportunity to acquire the mysterious art of reading. ledge.

Books had been the symbol of know­

Books contained the wisdom of the ages.

Books, knowledge,

wisdom had for so long been possessed only by the specially anointed*

Now, books, knowledge, wisdom were available to all.

And so the many avidly sought that which formerly only the few had enjoyed.

The attitude of the upper classes, that books were

the source of knowledge and wisdom, was taken over by the lower classes.1

Public education meant book education.

1. "When the leaders in the labor movement came to discuss the fundamental ideas and purposes of education they found themselves very much divided. One faction headed by the educational reformer from England, Robert Dale Owen, de­ manded the establishment of public boarding schools where children would receive equal food and clothing, as well as instruction, where all distinctions of wealth would be swept away, and where children would all be taught mechan­ ical and agricultural subjects as well as literary and scientific subjects. His idea was to use education to train the youth in community living and useful work. Against him was a large body of American labor leaders who advocated a more purely literary education, such as the well-to-do enjoyed in their schools arid colleges, an education which would give the children of workingmen a chance to rise in the world and become leaders in law, . medicine, the church. They resented the monopoly enjoyed by the rich and demanded equal opportunity for their children." Mary R. Beard, 4 Short History of the Ameri­ can Labor Movement, p. 42.


While children were spending less and less time engaging in the active life of home and community they were spending more and more time engaging in the passive life cf reading. Young children would too often sit and contemplate other worlds than their own, other people than those around them, other problems than theirs— all seen through another*s eyes and described in another's language printed in.books.

So day

after day and year after year children would leave the real world of home and community— the real world teeming with prob­ lems

demanding solution— to enter a make-believe school

world of books. From the foregoing discussion it can be seen that our public schools inherited certain definite curricular practices and principles from the past.

Some of the most important may

be summarized as follows: 1.

Education consisted of acquiring compartmentalized, abstract, verbalistic, authoritarian knowledge.


Knowledge was valuable for its own sake, hence non­ functional.


The curriculum was divorced from the immediate economic, political, and social life of the community.


Books were the dominant source for acquiring knowledge and wisdom.


Standards of achievement in the elementary and secondary schools were determined largely by the entrance requirements of the private liberal arts college.


Achievement was based upon individualistic, com­ petitive, acquisitive endeavor.


ifi. t&e Heritage HQdeaocr^tic? Certain questions should now be raised.

Are the fore­

going practices and principles really inconsistent with demoerady? today?

Do they still influence the elementary school curriculum If so, what are some of the trends toward a more demo­

cratic curriculum? The first question perhaps may best be answered by viewing the inherited practices and principles in the light of the suggested objectives and purposes of a democratic education as developed at the close of the preceding chapter.

By following

the traditional curriculum pattern can the learner become imbued with the principles and practices of democracy, as summarized below? (1) The welfare of the individual is the responsibility of all and the welfare of all is the responsibility of each individual. (2) Each person has a contribution to make in the pro­ duction of goods and services; and his participation is recognized as being important enough for the collective group to want it continued. (3) Each Individual has the right and responsibility to share in the making of decisions and in the solving of problems in matters which concern him and the group; and once a decision Is reached everyone should submit peacefully to and abide by the majority decision. (4) The solution of national and international problems should be made through reason not force; and since



the peoples of all nations have the same basic human aspirations they should be respected. (5) The person to whom authority is delegated is responsi­ ble to the delegating body; and it is the duty and responsibility of every individual to be familiar with the manner in which the delegated representative con­ ducts official duties. (6) Self-expression is fostered by cooperative participa­ tion with others in groups; and it is the responsibil­ ity of the leaders of organized groups to help all members to develop greater powers of articulation and decision. (7) All people are of essential worth; and the belief in the innate dignity of man necessitates respect for individual personality. (8 ) Each young person is important and wanted and has the right and responsibility to develop his own individual potentialities as a person and as a citizen. (9) Knowledge is sought and acquired for understanding and use; and it is the right and responsibility of each individual to acquire and use knowledge consistent with his abilities. (10) Opportunity for creative expression and for enjoyment of the arts are rights belonging to all. (11) Everyone has the right to health services; and it is the responsibility of each person to maintain good health not only for his own sake but also for the sake of others.


Knowledge Should be- Functional The traditional liberal arts college curriculum and Its methods of teaching and learning are not entirely conducive to the furtherance of these democratic objectives.

The emphasis

upon the dissemination and memorization of knowledges which are primarily intellectualistic, abstract, and non-functional; the emphasis upon the library and classroom as the source of problems as well as of their solutions; the Isolation of the campus, and, hence, the learner, from the common mundane life and problems of the nation's folk— all appear to mitigate against serving the ends of democratic living.

To the degree that ele­

mentary schools adopted this same point of view toward knowledge and learning, to the degree that ohildren's school learnings were divorced from their everyday out-of-school needs and pur­ poses, to that degree democratic objectives were not realized. In a democracy the people are free to grapple with the solution of their everyday problems of living.

Uppermost in

importance is their problem of feeding, clothing, and housing themselves most adequately and efficiently and,in wartime, to defeat their enemies who are threatening their democracy.


ability to recognize, attack, and solve economic, social, politi­ cal, and cultural problems does not come automatically or easily. People must learn how to be sovereign.

Prom their earliest

years they should begin this learning and continue it through­ out their lives.

The elementary school, the secondary school,

and the college have vital roles to play in this process. Educational experiences both within the school and outside


should contribute to the development of self-rule. Problems cannot be solved without knowledge.

So, in a

democracy, people must acquire knowledge and a great deal of it.

But the acquiring of knowledge in itself is not enough.

People should know how to use their knowledge in the solution of their problems.

Knowledge in a democracy is functional in

the everyday lives of the people. Children in the elementary school, and even earlier, acquire knowledges and skills.

But they acquire also attitudes

toward knowledge and the ability or inability to use their knowledge.

The types of knowledge pursued, the ways in which

knowledge is pursued, and the purposes for which knowledge is pursued may be of far greater Influence in the lives of children than the mere possession of factual information Itself. The writer is of the opinion that knowledge becomes functional only when it is put to use, and that when it is used, it is functional only with respect to the particular use to which it is put.

According to this point of view, any given

knowledge may be functional for some persons but not for others and, for those for whom it is functional, it may be so for different reasons, depending upon the different purposes for which it is used.

To illustrate: dividing 4.39 by .0437 re­

quires a knowledge of certain arithmetical processes.


knowledge is functional for the engineer, the Professor of Mathematics, certain elementary and secondary school teachers, and for some other people who use it in their work.

This know­

ledge is functional for the person who, outside of working hours,


uses it in some practical problem which he meets.

It is

functional for the person who uses it in a leisure^time re­ creational activity or hobby.

It is also functional for the

person who uses this knowledge of decimals in his effort to improve his own knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of mathematics and the number system. Similar examples could be taken from other areas of knowledge— history, geography, science, foreign language, etc.— and the same kinds of uses or functions would probably be found for these knowledges as for the arithmetical knowledge mentioned. These functions seem to fall under the following major cate­ gories: (1 ) the vocational function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person who applies it in his work; (2 ) the subjectspecialization function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person who investigates, discovers, experiments in the special­ ized field containing the knowledge (the historian, geographer, scientist, linguist, etc.); (3) the teaching function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person who helps others in acquiring that knowledge; (4) the citizenship function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person to understand the world and to solve personal and group economic, political, and social problems; (5) the enjoyment-recreational function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person while engaging in enjoyable lelsure^time activities and hobbies; and (6 ) the self­ development function— the knowledge being needed and used by a person who wishes to gain for personal improvement an under­ standing and appreciation of the specialized field containing the knowledge. f

89 If these are the major uses to which adults put their knowledges, should we expect that children should acquire know­ ledges for these same ends? Beginning with a consideration of the vocational function, It can be safely said that very few children of elementary school age decide what their vocation is going to be and consciously set out to acquire knowledges and skills in preparation for that vocation.

The argument could be made^ that, since some day

they will need and use In their vocations certain knowledges and skills which they acquire in elementary school, these know­ ledges have a vocational function, whether the child realizes it or not.

This may be so, but it seems to the writer, that such

knowledges will not become functional with respect to vocation until they are actually used in the vocation or in the conscious preparation for the vocation.

In the meantime, if they are

functional, they would be so with respect to other uses. There are some children,of course,who have an immediate vocational need for certain knowledges; for example, those children who earn money after school and during week-ends and vacations.

For them certain knowledges are functional with

respect to vocation.

For the great majority of children, how­

ever, the vocational function of knowledge does not seem to apply. The subject-specialization function of knowledge, likewise, seems to be of little immediate concern to children.

True, there

are some elementary school children who may already be consciously headed toward a career of specialization in the arts, the sciences, or the humanities, but the great majority either will

90 never enter into such specialization or, they are not now con­ scious of or concerned with this future possible ambition. The same condition seems to hold concerning the teaching function of knowledge.

Although there are some children who

believe they would like to be teachers when they are grown up, they are not aware of the specific knowledges and skills which a teacher must possess, so cannot consciously acquire knowledges and skills to that end.

The writer has known a few children,

who, in their desire to help other ohildren learn certain spe­ cifics, have set about the task of mastering those specifics themselves before attempting to help the others.

These ex­

ceptions among children, however, seem to indicate quite pointedly that knowledge for children in general is not function­ al with respect to teaching. These first three functions of knowledge (the vocational, the subject-specialization,and the teaching functions) concern youth and adults primarily and children almost not at all.


are the uses to which knowledge is put by people while working in their various occupations, trades, professions.

The second

three functions of knowledge, however, (the citizenship, the enjoyment-recreational, and the self-development) concern every­ body, young and old.

They are the uses to which knowledge can

be put by people regardless of the type of work they perform and regardless of whether they are too young or too old or too infirm to work.

They are the uses to which knowledge can be put

by each person both as an individual and as a member of society.


In order to understand his ever expanding world and in order to help solve the problems which confront him in his relations with people and things the child requires an everincreasing amount and variety of knowledges.

As he matures

he becomes more and more able to obtain those knowledges from the special subject fields.

He should go to history, geography,

mathematics, science, and other fields as he needs and is able to use the information they provide.

Acquiring knowledge in

this way and utilizing it for this purpose would make knowledge a tool— a means to an end.

Knowledge which is acquired for the

citizenship function is not an end in itself. But, the question arises, what about the children who, when they go to the field of history, for example, become inter­ ested in the field itself?

Should they be denied the pleasure

and enjoyment of reading stories and accounts of the past Just because they may not need this knowledge to solve their every­ day problems?

The answer (to be consistent with the thesis

stated here) must be that this certainly is a legitimate use of knowledge and should be encouraged.

If this purpose for

acquiring knowledge does not serve the self-development function of knowledge it certainly does serve the enjoyment-recreational function.

The experiences which children have in school should

broaden their horizons and enlarge their interests sufficiently to set each child off into worthwhile individual recreational activities, enterprises, Investigations, hobbies, if the school is to do all it can in fulfilling its responsibilities for developing well-rounded individuals.



Knowledge is functional for the child when he uses It to Improve himself. healthy. skills.

He wants to grow up and be big, strong, and

He wants to increase his knowledge and powers and He may not particularly enjoy the self-discipline

entailed In fulfilling this ambition, but he will persist if his purpose is important enough to him. If the above analysis of the functions and uses of knowledge has validity for a democratic society, then the pur­ poses for which children in the elementary school should acquire knowledge seem clear.

Adults' purposes for gaining knowledge

(vocational, subject-specialization, teaching) are not neces­ sarily children'6 purposes, but children's purposes (citizen­ ship, enjoyment-recreational, self-development) are similar to adults' purposes.

It would seem, therefore, that the elementary

school should help children seek knowledge almost if not entirely for the latter purposes.

Children then would not only be satis­

fying their own needs but would be preparing themselves for adulthood as well.

It would be the responsibility of the secon«r-

aary school, vocational school, college, and university not only to continue the emphasis upon the citizenship, enjoymentrecreational, and self-development functions of knowledge, but to provide opportunity for the acquisition of the functional knowledges and skills relative to vocational, subject-special­ ization, and teaching needs. Every child has problems. and needs.

He has interests, desires,

These problems, interests, desires, and needs do

not remain the same from month to month and year to year as a

93 person grows from infancy through adulthood.

Neither does the

ability to solve his problems, pursue his Interests, gratify his desires, and fulfill his needs remain unchanged as a person grows older.

Adults have their own destiny, as well as that of

the children and youth, in their hands.

In order to become able

to assume the responsibility of ruling intelligently, adults must first have had ample opportunity to learn self-government. Day by day in childhood and in youth their experiences and learnings must have been consciously guided to insure growth in self-rule. Children in school cannot begin to learn to solve their problems if their experiences in school are not based upon their own evolving interests, desires, and needs.

For problems

are not of vital importance to a child unless they arise from such experiences.

Children cannot begin to learn to solve

their personal and collective problems efficiently if they are not permitted to recognize the existence and importance of their problems.

Children cannot begin to learn to solve their problems,

pursue their interests, gratify their desires, and fulfill their needs satisfactorily unless they have opportunity to acquire knowledges and skills useful to these ends.

To the child, know­

ledges and skills acquired for use in his everyday living are functional and have meaning.

In pursuing knowledge for such

understandable purpose the chances are the child could grow up with the attitude that knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge are indispensable In the democratic solution of individual and social problems.

94 Knowledge Should Be Acquired through. First-Hand Experiences Knowledge of the world and universe is gained through first-hand observation and experience.

Since no Individual is

capable of observing and experiencing everything, each person must rely upon others for those knowledges which are acquired outside his own experience.

Knowledge of the world and universe

is disseminated among people by means of language communication. Knowledge is communicated from one to another through oral speech and through written speech.

To the degree that the listener or

reader is able to translate the spoken or written language symbols into concepts corresponding to the speaker's or writer's concepts, to that degree is communication successful. In a democracy where everyone shares in the solution of common problems and, hence, requires the possession of an abun«dance and variety of accurate and reliable knowledges, the dis­ seminators of knowledge must assume a vital social responsibility. The dissemination of misinformation, misconceptions, misunder­ standings can

either be consciously (or unconsciously) promoted

or consciously (or unconsciously) avoided. Learning to speak so that the words and sentences uttered represent truly the concepts and meanings in the speaker's mind is a very difficult task.

Learning to write so that the words

and sentences written represent truly the concepts and meanings in thei writer's mind is also a very difficult task.

But perhaps

of greater difficulty and of even greater importance than either of these is the acquiring of the proper attitude of social responsibility by the speaker or writer toward his audience.

95 This responsibility entails, first, that a person have first­ hand concrete experience with objects and situations; second, that he gain accurate concepts and meanings from this experi­ ence; and third, that he use the appropriate language symbols, to represent these concepts and meanings. The abilities to listen and to read must also be de­ veloped.

The listener's task goes far beyond the hearing and

recognizing of words uttered in sequence.

He must translate

the language symbols into concepts and meanings.

The concepts

which come to the listener's mind are his own concepts which he has previously gained through his own first-hand experiences. To the degree that the listener's experiences have been similar to those of the speaker, the concepts called to mind by the spoken language will be similar. The same problem confronts the reader.

In addition to

merely recognizing words written or printed in sequence, the reader must be able to translate the language symbols into con­ cepts and meanings.

Again, the amount of understanding of

that which is observed on the printed or written page depends upon the degree of similarity between the experiences (and the concepts) of the reader and writer. To gain maximum comprehension of the communicated informa­ tion the listener or reader must himself have had varied and abundant first-hand experiences from which he has gained con­ cepts and meanings.

He must also possess a vocabulary ade­

quately representing his concepts and meanings.1 1. Paul McKee, Language, in tfte Elementary School. Chapter I.

96 If this argument is sound, perhaps the experiences of children in the elementary school should he primarily con­ cerned with concrete situations involving the things and people about them.

First-hand observations, the manipulation

of materials, the hearing of sounds, the smelling of odors, and the tasting of savors— these are the ways in which know­ ledges should be acquired.

Only from such personal contacts

can accurate concepts, meanings and vocabulary develop. Language in the elementary school, whether spoken or written, heard or read, should pertain to the experiences of the children.

The city child hearing or reading about life

on a farm usually gains erroneous concepts of farm life, if he has never lived on a farm and built up correct farm-life concepts.

The rural child hearing or reading about life in

a large city usually acquires false concepts of city life, if he has never lived in a city and gained appropriate city-life concepts.

Children may gain false concepts of pets, animals,

boats, trains, fanners, Indians, corn, wheat, automobiles, Eskimoes, policemen, coal miners, factory workers, firemen, mountains, deserts, oceans, rivers, etc., etc., if their introduction to these phenomena be through words. By continually learning in school about life outside through the medium of words and books, people often grow up with many faulty notions about the world.

However, this is

not the only unfortunate result of highly verbalistic learn­ ing.

The more time children are required to learn through

books, the less time and opportunity they have to learn


through their own experiences.

Moreover, since the school

thus tends to foster and sanction the acquiring of false con­ cepts by the learner, children often grow up with a tendency toward intellectual dishonesty or indifference.

The emphasis

upon verbalistic learning tends to create in children and youth the false idea that "intelligence" is the ability to manipulate word symbols with facility.

It is conoelvable

that it tends to create the false idea that man has two dis­ tinct abilities— one mental and the other manual.

It is also

conceivable that it tends to create the false idea that people are naturally divided into two classes— the "intelligent" "mental" minority, and the "unintelligent" "manual" majority.^ If a child or youth happens to compare his own experi­ ences and concepts with the experiences and concepts culled from that which he reads, he is tempted to accept the latter as the criteria by which to appraise the former.

The learner

in school, in other words, may tend to accept what he reads as true.

If his own experience does not coincide with what he

reads, he discards as erroneous the concepts gained from his 1. "Perhaps it is more accurate to classify intelligence into various types rather than to think of it as a single quality or characteristic. In this way, we may divide the mental abilities of Individuals into (1 ) abstract or verbal— power to deal with words, symbols, and ideas expressed verbally; (2 ) mechanical— the ability to work with machines, to handle objects, and to use materials and contrivances; (3) social— the capacity of getting along with others, of meeting social situations, of successful adjustment in human relations; (4 ) aesthetic_ the ability to sense relationships, appreciate values, and perform in the field of the aesthetic arts." Samuel Smith, George R. Cressman, and Robert K. Speer, Education, and Societyr p. 21.

98 own experience— or else suspects and distrusts what is found in print.

In fact, people often grow up unable to learn

easily from their own experiences.

A schooling which has in­

stilled in them the habit of learning from and accepting the words of others with little or no questioning has perhaps helped to mate such learning difficult. People in a democracy' must recognize cause and effect relationships in social life— otherwise the solving of their problems is haphazard and blind.

Schools in a democracy must

guide children in learning to recognize cause and effect re­ lationships in their own lives, if they are to become intelli­ gent rulers of their own destiny.

Children must be permitted

to act if they are to learn the consequences of their acts.


schooling which deprives them of the right to act, do, perform deprives children of essential learnings.

A schooling which

confines children to books, pencils, and paper serves to in­ capacitate them for the serious and difficult task of demo­ cratic living.* The amount of reading in which children should engage during school hours for the purpose of gaining knowledges and understandings of the world is a highly debatable question. *;Since this section is devoted to the question of acquiring and utilizing knowledges for the purpose of solving pro­ blems, reading for other purposes is not discussed here. Reading for enjoyment (poetry or prose) is certainly an Important and desirable experience for children and youth, as well as for adults. The same danger seemsto present Itself in this type of reading, however, as in informational reading. True and meaningful concepts of life can be ob­ tained from poetry and prose; false concepts can also be acquired.

90 There are authorities who stress the importance of reading as a means of widening children's horizons and of introduc­ ing them to areas of human experience which otherwise they would not encounter.

The position taken here, however, is

not entirely in agreement with this point of view.

The present

writer is of the opinion that children's horizons should "be widened not so much through reading but by actually seeing and experiencing; that children's first approach to new areas of investigation should "be through first-hand observation and contact.

Additional and supplementary information could then

be obtained through reading.

What is read under these conditions

could then be related in the readers' thinking to their own experiences, and the concepts, ideas, and meanings obtained from the reading would perhaps have a good chance of being understood correctly.

Since a greater amount of time is usu­

ally required to make observations in person than to read about what others have observed, most of the children's time should perhaps be spent in observing and experiencing rather than in reading. It might be argued, and perhaps Justly so, that since children spend most of their time out of school experiencing, why should they not utilize a lerge portion of the time they spend in school reading?

This might perhaps be Justified, if

the material which each child reads in school could be related to the experiences which he had outside of school and if these experiences are of a desirably educative nature.

Indeed, this

is attempted where a school's curriculum is centered in the


home and community life of the children.

But even in this

kind of school, children in groups should make first-hand contacts with the community during school hours, because if children are to gain the maximum of value even from personal experiences they must often be guided and directed.


learnings are facilitated when they attack common problems to­ gether.

Furthermore, since this is the democratic approach to

the solution of common problems, children could be aided in learning this democratic cooperative process while they are under the educational leadership of the school. As children's experiences are continually broadened and become Increasingly varied, reading interests become broadened and varied.

The information, concepts, and ideas

gained from reading are then brought back to everyday experi­ ences throwing new light upon them and stimulating new experi­ ences.

Helping children to effect a constant interplay between

their first-hand experiences and their reading is, according to the point of view presented here, one of the major tasks of the elementary school— not to mention the secondary school and college.

By helping children and youth identify problems

and questions arising in their everyday living, to go to books for aid in their solution, and then to utilize and test their newly found information in the solving of their problems and the answering of their questions would seem to tend to build in people an attitude toward books and knowledge which would assist them as adults.

It would assist them in appraising

the spoken and written word and in being critical of what they


hear and read.

It is likely that people who are in the habit

of weighing evidence, testing information, analyzing points of view would not only become quite proficient in seeking and utilizing reliable knowledges, but would be difficult to mis­ lead by false information and subversive propaganda. Knowledge Should Be Acquired for the Common flnnfl The all-for-one-and-one-for-all principle of democratic living seems to be violated by the practice of fostering in­ dividualistic, competitive, acquisitive actions among children in school.

How difficult the traditional teachers made it for

children to learn democratic habits and attitudes! learned what really was expected of them in school.

They soon They

learned that each child must more or less look out for himself. The teacher would find out what each child knew, she would keep a record of the amount each one knew and she wanted him to know that she kept such a record.

Every child wouldhave liked

to have had a good record, but of course they all couldnot. Some were always better— and some were always worse.

This was

another thing that children learned— they must compete with each other for the sake of the record. Teachers, too, were often forced to compete. compete among themselves.

They would

Each would try to have her children

end the year with as few failures as possible.

She knew that

her efficiency was often measured in terms of how much informa­ tion her children had acquired under her tutelage.

She would

spur her young charges on with hope of reward and fear of


punishment: honor rolls, stars, demerits, conferences with mothers, keeping after school, threat of retarding. "Cooperation" might enter into this classroom scheme. The teacher might often preach cooperation— it is very im­ portant in a democracy.

But it would be largely a negative

cooperation which was advocated.

Don't disturb others.

Don't whisper or talk to others.

Don't bother others.

isn't fair.

It isn't good sportsmanship.


Don't prevent

others from studying, from applying themselves, from getting ahead, from making a good record.

Usually there was little,

if any, social intercourse in the traditional classroom. Cooperation and good citizenship meant "mind your own busi­ ness."

Not all of the classrooms of the past, to be sure,

were operated in this spirit, but enough of them were to make these practices rather typical. No two children are alike in their specific abilities and skills.

No two children have equal ability to acquire

specific knowledges and skills. same tempo.

No two children learn at the

By setting up the same standards of achievement

for all children in a class to meet by the end of the school year, traditional teachers, whether they were aware of it or not, set up conditions which would insure varying degrees of success for some and varying degrees of failure for others. In a fourth grade, for example, all of the children would be started in September on a reading race, an arithmetic race, a spelling race, etc., which would end in June.

Even if all of

the children began the race at the same starting line, which


was quite impossible, the teacher knew that soon the racers would be spread out along the track and that, at the finish, great gaps would have appeared between them.

Yet, she continued

the races and, if conscientious over the plight of each child, would try to assist individuals in the competition.

For the

teacher knew that the fast ones were not extending themselves, but they were acquiring a feeling of grandeur over their super­ iority.

The mediocre group did not give her too.much concern,

but she saw that the slow ones were either giving up and not trying (what’s the use?), or straining and worrying in an attempt to keep up.

She saw them acquiring feelings of in­

difference, of frustration, of inferiority. At the conclusion of these races were the children very much better prepared than before to accept the responsibilities involved in democratic living?

Did the 100's, the 80's, the

60's, the 40*s on report cards indicate the degree of demo­ cratic citizenship learned? F's indicate it?

Did the A fs, the.B's, the C's, the

It is doubtful that these marks did.


numerical and alphabetical symbols represented, rather, the teacher's estimate of the status of the children at the end of the competition. Since the days when these undemocratic practices were in vogue, many educators have come to believe that, given the opportunity, children can learn to work for the common good. They can learn to develop their powers and potentialities the better to serve the group. and skills for use.

They can learn to acquire knowledges

They can learn to help each other in the



pursuit of their, common goals.

They can learn that each child

has some worthwhile contribution to make to the group undertak­ ing.

They can learn to respect each other and recognize the

inherent worth of each person.

But they can learn these things

only through experiencing their necessity. The elementary school in a democracy should permit children to engage in such activities for such purposes that these learn­ ings will naturally develop.

Place children in situations which

necessitate individual competition,and habits and concepts of "each man for himself" will tend to persist as they grow older. Place children in situations which necessitate mutual aid,and it would seem that they could acquire habits and concepts of "allfor-one-and-one-for-all." Are Some Curriculum Practices Still Undemocratic? In viewing the contemporary scene can we discern evidences that undemocratic practices and attitudes still persist?


does the sympathetic but critical observer see when he looks at current school practice?

Are there aspects of the elementary

school curriculum which still need further democratization?^ Undoubtedly many significant changes have taken place in ele­ mentary education in recent years. upon more and more as human beings.

Children are being looked Greater concern is being

1. For recent studies and surveys which reveal many of the un­ democratic practices discussed here, see Paul R. Mort and Francis G. Cornell, American Schools in Transition: also Leo J . Brueckner, The,Changing Elementary School: also Herbert B. Bruner, et al., What Our Schools Are Teaching.


given to the problem of discovering and providing for chil*— Aren's needs and interests.

Curricula are being revised

throughout the country in an endeavor to reconcile practice with democratic educational theory. made, but the progress seems spotty.

Progress is surely being If certain states are

generally further along than others, it is also true that certain communities within a state have advanced further than others.

If different degrees of progress are found among

communities, it is also true that there are different degrees of progress evident among the schools of a single school system. Likewise, within a single school some teachers have made greater advances than others.

To complete the picture of the uneven

development of the democratization of education the classroom unit itself should perhaps be included.

The individual teacher

is not always consistent in all of her educational practices. In some aspects of the curriculum she may be applying demo­ cratic principles of living and learning, while in others she may not. The present writer, in contacts with many teachers and schools in several states, has observed wide variation in practice and point of view.

The following observations, then,

must not be construed as referring to all communities, or all schools, or all classrooms.

They do, however, refer to enough

instances to convince the writer that much still has to be done before all of our children are permitted to reap the benefits of a more democratic education. 1.

Is elementary school practice still based upon the


belief that education consists of acquiring compartmentiallzed, abstract, verbalistic, authoritarian knowledge? Knowledge of the world is still being presented to many of our elementary school children in compartments.'1’ They are still learning about life to a considerable degree from the 1. "In spite of the favorable trends listed above the following significant facts remain: "(1) There is a persistent attempt in the majority of courses to utilize traditional subject matter to satisfy new needs. "(2) Part of the new content that has been introduced is in many Instances not significant. It is as academic as is the remainder of the course. For example, one unit on installment buying devotes a major portion of its emphasis to the skills needed to calculate the interest paid and gives little consideration to the social and personal problems involved. A unit on forms of govern­ ment lists dictatorships without reference to the pre­ sent world crisis. "(3) Some of the new material does not provide for a suffi­ ciently thorough analysis of the problem involved. Like many other Innovations, some of the material seems to have been introduced merely because it was novel. "(4) There are glaring shortages in content in certain fields. For example, in science, there is almost no mention of practical science in Industry, in the home, or with reference to the consumer* In social studies there is little or no mention of advertising and its wide­ spread influence, art, child labor, housing, insurance, installment buying and consumer education, social security, dictatorships, and many other vital problems today. In industrial arts, there is only slight men­ tion of household repair Jobs, of the social implica­ tions of the new uses developed for old materials and the new materials developed, of new tools and new in­ dustries. "(5) The underlying philosophy of many of these courses prevents the content from assuming full significance. For example, the Idea that science should remain "pure* stultifies the social emphases that might otherwise be present. Similarly, the notion that social studies should at all times maintain unity, sequence, and chronology often militates against Its functional inter­ pretation and use." Ibid., p. 209.


study of subjects which are kept fairly well isolated from each other.

In some classrooms reading, spelling, written

composition, handwriting, oral expression, history, geography, nature study, science, drawing, music, hygiene, arithmetic, physical education are each taken up and dropped one after the other during the week according to an orderly time table. "Reading" thus becomes that activity which is pursued in the reading period, not the skill required when information is needed from the fields of science, geography, history, arith­ metic.

"Spelling" becomes that activity which consists of

learning to write in columns a certain number of words per week from dictation, not the ability to spell words correctly in written composition.

"Hygiene" or "Health" becomes that

study of facts which comes once or twice a week for twenty minutes or a half-hour for each sitting, not the minute to minute habits of physical•and emotional living.

These are

but a few examples of practices which still persist in some classrooms. Where the elementary school curriculum does not consist of a collection of separate categories of knowledges and skills called subjects, then the teacher has little reason for evaluating children's achievement by subjects, commercial­ ized standardized achievement tests organized according to subjects, seem inappropriate and report cards containing a list of septate subjects to be marked are out of place. Children in some elementary schools still engage in acquiring knowledges which are more or less abstract and



From the point of view of these children, much

of their school knowledge is separated from material things and from concrete practical situations. time is devoted to verbal activity.

A good deal of their

They usually are not

permitted to learn through observation, through manipulation of materials, through first-hand contacts, in short, through their own practical experiences with people and things. A glance into one of these classrooms should suffice to make it evident that the furniture was designed for the inactive contemplative type of learning prevalent in the past. Desks and chairs, usually fastened together and clamped to the floor, are arranged evenly in rows.

There are blackbbardel •

and windows, possibly maps of a world gone by hanging on rollers.

Perhaps there is a flower pot or two.

Large reprints

of classical paintings hang darkly high up on the walls where they cannot be seen. In this classroom what are the material things which are available for children to manipulate?

There are pencils,

possibly pens, ink, ink wells, crayons, chalk, blackboard erasers, pencil erasers, rulers, paper, books, and, if their desk tops are hinged, desk tops.

Then, upon occasion, a child

may be permitted to handle the window pole, to clap erasers, to water a plant, or sharpen a pencil. In addition, there are door-knobs, drlnking-fountain valves, and toilet flushers.

If the children have a little,

good fortune, there are an easel and some powder paints which can be used by one or two at a time.

If they have a little


more fortune, there is a workbench with a vice or two, a few tools and occasionally some usuable wood.

On the playground

there may be balls, a bat, jacks, jumping ropes, marbles-perhaps provided by the children themselves.

Confined to the

use of materials such as these how can learnings be anything but predominantly verbal and abstract? In this classroom have the children many opportunities for engaging in natural social experiences with each other? They have some, to be sure, but usually there is not room enough for very many children to move about informally at one time.

There are often too many children and the desks take

up too much space.

Fixed furniture may be functional for

sitting activities, but it hinders activities involving move­ ment.

Social groups are formed around common interests and

the common interests of children center in planning, making, exploring, doing.

Without sufficient materials with which to

work, and without sufficient room in which to move, children are hampered in learning through first-hand, concrete social experience.

As a consequence, the glance into this classroom

usually reveals children seated quietly at their desks doing something with books, pencils, and paper and engaging in the acquisition of abstract verbalistic knowledges. The knowledges which children are expected to absorb I

tend to be in large measure authoritarian, if they grow up learning that the teacher has the answers, that the book has the answers.

Knowledge tends to be authoritarian when children

are not permitted in school to test their knowledge in the light


of their own experiences and when the teacher is the one who tests their knowledge for them and tells them whether or not they have the right answers.

The entire procedure of assign­

ment of material to be studied (given by the teacher), of recitations, quizzes, tests, and examinations (administered by the teacher), and of marks representing the degree of ac­ quisition of the material studied (issued by the teacher) fosters in the learner the attitude that knowledge is pos­ sessed only by someone higher up.

It tends to develop in

the learner the attitude that if he wishes to know he must always go to others.

This whole process helps to instill in

the learner a distrust of his own ability to verify facts, gather information, and acquire knowledge.

Some one else

always has the answers. 2.

Is elementary school practice still based on the assump­ tion that knowledge is valuable for its own sake, hence non-functional? If knowledge is functional for children with reference

to their citizenship, self-development, and enjoyment-recrea­ tional needs and almost not at all with reference to vocational, subject-specializatlon, and teaching needs, then it seems that much of the knowledge still being acquired in many elementary schools Is not very functional.

To be sure, the knowledges

acquired through the study of subjects (subject-specialization) are not entirely non-functional with respect to citizenship, self-development, and enjoyment-recreation needs.

Children do

use some of the knowledge, which they have acquired for subject-

I ll

mastery purposes, for these other purposes as well.

But such

uses seem to be only by-products of the major subject-masterly use.

If the school does not provide many opportunities for

children to use their knowledges for citizenship, self-develop­ ment, and enjoyment-recreational purposes, then, as far as the school is concerned, such uses are accidental. There are certain purposes for acquiring knowledge which are of more vital importance to some children than any that have already been mentioned.

Knowledge is often acquired for

the purpose.of passing tests, getting good marks, being pro­ moted, pleasing the teacher, gratifying parents.


gained for these purposes may be quite functional with respect to these ends, but they are not always very functional with respect to other purposes. Knowledges and skills can be functional and useful for children if they are related to their everyday needs-, interests, and purposes.

If a child recognizes the immediate or ultimate

personal or social need for acquiring a specific knowledge or skill and accepts the responsibility for satisfying the need, if a child is penaltted to engage in experiences which will define the need and is allowed to pursue activities wherein he can acquire and use his knowledge or skill in satisfying the need, it appears to the writer that there is a better chance for the knowledge or skill thus acquired and used to be func­ tional in the child’s daily life than if he did not recognize the need for acquiring the knowledge or skill and did not have occasion to use.lt.


If knowledge which is put to use is active functional knowledge, then knowledge which is divorced from action would seem to be non-functional knowledge.

If this point of view

has validity, then children in our elementary schools are still acquiring many non-functional knowledges. 3.

Is the curriculum still divorced from the immediate economic, political, and social life of the community? It might prove an Interesting and enlightening math­

ematical problem if every elementary school teacher in every elementary school in the land would count up the total number of minutes her children spend in school during one year.


then, she would count the number of minutes which the children and she spend off the school grounds during school hours pur­ suing investigations or participating in the life of the com­ munity, then add to this second figure the number of minutes devoted to classroom consideration of these community investi­ gations,' and finally, add the number of minutes devoted to considering any aspects of community life brought into the classroom by teacher or children, she would arrive at the total number of minutes spent in utilizing the community as a source for curriculum materials.

With two figures now at hand the

teacher could by a simple mathematical process determine what percentage of the total time spent in school is devoted to immediate community life.

A guess may be hazarded that if all

of the percentages were plotted on a curve of distribution, a very skewed curve would result, with the bulk of the distribu­ tion hovering near 0 per cent, and very little extending up to the 50 per cent. mark.


Of course, the actual or relative amount of time which children spend on trips into the community does not present an accurate picture.

If the quality of the community experience

be considered, the curve of distribution would perhaps be even more skewed in the direction of the zero end of the scale. Excursions into the community must be something more than Just pleasure tours which break the monotony of daily classroom routine.

Perhaps a good criterion by which to measure the

educative value of community contacts is the attitude of the children themselves toward such activity.

Is it Just a lark?

Is it a chance to get out of the classroom? ty

to engage in physical activity?

Is it an opportuni­

Do the children have a

serious purpose for making the investigation?

Do they really

want to gain a better understanding of their community and make some contribution to its betterment?

Do they feel that

making community contacts during school hours and utilizing community resources for study are normal natural aspects of their school experience? The curriculum pattern or the course of study followed in many schools requires that children in kindergarten, first, and perhaps second grades be engaged in activities connected with the home and community.

Trips may be made to stores, the

firehouse, the railroad station, the park, the post-office, the nearby farm.

When the children are seven or eight they

may then be taken to Holland or the Arctic Circle or the western plains of a hundred years ago.

Prom then on the im­

mediate life in their own community is often entirely ignored.


A barrier separating school and community is the usual parent-school relationship*

Parents play a very vital role in

the life of the community, yet they very seldom participate in the formulation of curricular policies as they relate to the utilization of community resouroes.

The attitude is still pre­

valent among teachers and parents that school is school and home is home and the business of the one is not the business of the other.

It is impossible for the school to be an integral part

of the community if the parents do not frequently participate in the school life of their children, if the children do not fre­ quently participate in the community life of their parents. 4.

Are books still being used as the dominant source for acquiring, knowledge and wisdom in the elementary school? In practically every first grade in the country the chief

task of the teacher is to get her children to learn to read. A large portion of the school day is devoted to this job. same is true in the second and third grades.


Reading skills

must be mastered because children who cannot read cannot do the work of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.

Practically all

of the subjects in the elementary school are reading subjects— history, geography, arithmetic, nature study, science, spelling, English, health.

The non-reader, or poor reader, is the problem

child of the elementary school.

He is the misfit.

He is placed

in special rooms with others who cannot do the regular school work.

These conditions and these practices provide Indubitable

evidence that books and reading are the dominant means by which knowledge is.expected to be acquired in school.



Recognizing the great importance of the reading skill in the child's pursuit of knowledge, teachers have perhaps devoted more time and effort to improving methods of teaching reading than of any other subject.

Scores of researches and experi­

ments have been made to find the best methods of getting young children ready and willing to learn to read, of introducing reading to six-year-olds so that the process will be as pain­ less as possible, of teaching phonics, phonetics, word analysis, of building study habits (that is, reading habits), of diagnosis and remedial instruction.

Publishers vie with each other to get

out the most attractive books.

In pre-primers and primers and

first readers great care is taken to have the right number of new words appear on each succeeding page and to have each word recur with the proper frequency.

Such concern and emphasis

upon developing reading ability in children must be interpreted as evidence of the fact that books and the reading of books play a large part in the school life of the child.

The school

world, of the child is still predominantly a book world.'*' 5.

Are standards of achievement in the elementary and secondary schools still being determined largely by entrance requirements of the private liberal arts college?

1. "Modern elementary education . . . . had its most important origins in the Western world in the religious-reform movements which are now usually known as the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. These movements emphasized reading, and reading has continued to be the heart of the curriculum of the elementary school." Edgar W. Knight, Twenty Centuries of Ednnsf.ir>« p. 374.


The acqulb ition-of-knowledge-for-11a-own-s ake concept of education necessitates the practice of having fixed bodies of knowledge set up in advance to be learned.

Each body of

knowledge is then organized in a more or less logical sequence, the learner proceeding more or less successfully through one organized block before he is permitted to attack the next block.

The institutions of higher learning have devised a

system of labels which they award to students who pass through hierarchies of such blocks of knowledge.

Various types of

Doctor's degrees, Master's degrees, and Bachelor's degrees represent different stages of progress in the acquisition of knowledge.

The liberal arts college has set up requirements

for the Bachelor's degree which usually necessitate four years of study for completion.

To be allowed to enter upon this

four-year period the student must first show evidence that he has had the proper kind of academic preparation. ation is given by the secondary school.

That prepar­

The secondary school,

then, must have its requirements of subject matter acquisition which must be satisfied if the college is to accept the high* school graduate for admission.

Since the curriculum of the

academic high school is thus determined to a great degree by college entrance requirements, the high school must be certain that those entering upon its courses have been properly pre­ pared.

So the high school, makes academic demands upon the

elementary school, and the elementary child in turn must pass through prescribed stages of subject matter acquisition.


traditional practice is still rather prevalent in the American


educational system. The liberal arts college, In keeping with its practice of awarding the Bachelor*s label after the student has com­ pleted four years of study, labels the student according to his stage of advancement along the way.

The student is desig­

nated. Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior as he progresses up the collegiate academic scale.

The four-year high school

adopts the same labels for its students to represent their stages in the acquisition of knowledge, but instead of issuing a degree at the completion, the high school awards the graduate a diploma.

Following the pattern and example set by the college

and the high school, many elementary schools divide their curricula into blocks of knowledges and skills which must be acquired in predetermined sequence. is designated by a grade number.

Each stage in the sequence

The child in pursuing his

task of acquiring knowledges is labeled First Grader, Second Grader, Fifth Grader, depending upon how far he has progressed in satisfying the subject matter requirements which will enable him to enter high school. The educational hierarchy of elementary school, high school, and college is still largely acter.

propaedeutic'in char­

The Kindergarten prepares the child for the First

Grade curriculum, the First Grade prepares the child for the work of the Second Grade, and so on, grade by grade and stage by stage.

The elementary school prepares for the high school

and the high school prepares for the college. The type of organization of the American school system


is not in itself inconsistent with democratic educational aims.

What does make the organization democratic or undemo­

cratic is the relationship which exists "between the curriculum of one division and that of another.

If the curriculum of

each succeeding division is based upon the curriculum of the preceding division— if, in other words, the curricula of the elementary school, the secondary school, and the college pro­ vide for the needs, interests, talents, and purposes of the individuals as they mature through childhood, adolescence, and young manhood and womanhood, then the organization would seem to be consistent with democratic principles.

On the

other hand, where the curriculum of the preceding division is based upon the curriculum of the succeeding division— where, in other words, achievement standards are set by the college, which in turn Influence the standards of the secondary school,, which in turn influence the standards of the elementary school, then the organization seems to be inconsistent with democratic principles.

For in this case the focus of attention is on

subject matter— and not people— the needs, interests, talents, and purposes of the individuals being either ignored entirely or considered only Incidentally. 6.

Is achievement still based upon individualistic, com­ petitive, acquisitive endeavor? In some classrooms today* what a child learns is largely

*The following description may seem over-drawn— for many schools it is, for some it is not— but the writer has observed class­ rooms v/here vestiges of these conditions still exist and the teachers are either not conscious of their existence or not aware of their undemocratic nature.

119 a matter between him and his teacher.

He is accountable for

his achievement only to his teacher. business but his and his teacher*s.

What he knows is nobody*s Although there are thirty

or forty or more other children in his class, studying the same assignments, he must not cooperate with them in the pursuit of knowledge. other.

He and the others in his class must not help each

Each must work independently of the other.


another, prompting another, copying from another are still con­ sidered to be the fundamental sins of these classrooms. The teacher evaluates the amount of knowledge acquired by each child.

The degree of acquisition is measured in terms

of percentages or letter marks.

This marking system reveals to

the child his degree of success or failure as compared with the other members of his class.

The few who have achieved the most

are given special recognition by appearing on the honor roll. The teacher, perhaps unwittingly, sets one child against another. Competition among children is thus fostered consciously or un­ consciously, as a stimulus and motive for achieving. The rivalry among children for favorable marks from the teacher is sometimes augmented by pressure from home.

Many a

parent wants his child to be at the top— or wishes he could be. Where the school holds individualistic competitive acquisition as being fundamental to school success, some parents fit into the scheme of things and do what they can to help their child­ ren.

Threats, scoldings, punishments may be meted out in an

effort to make the child acquire more.

Or praise, prizes,

rewards may be offered to stimulate achievement.

Parents who


help their children with their home-work, or even do it for them, often do so to impress the teacher.

These pressures

placed upon a child at home and at school often force

him to

resort to illegal means— cheating, crlbMng, copying— so that the teacher may believe he has learned his lessons satisfacto­ rily. . Trends in t^e JtefflftorfltJLz^atjgp, o£ t&e If it is true that the American people have not yet broken away completely from inherited undemocratic curricular practices in their schools, it is also true that many steps have been taken in the democratic direction.

The vanguard

of teachers striving for more democracy in education, although still small in numbers, is gaining increasing influence. Trends Toward Integration and Functionality Definite attempts are being made, in classrooms dotting the country, to break down subject barriers.

The most wide­

spread attempt, perhaps, has been made in the field of the social studies.

Geography, history, and civics are being re­

cognized more and more as being related knowledges.

The move­

ment toward correlation and integration is a significant trend. As man throughout the ages accumulated an ever-increasing abundance of facts about the universe, it was found convenient to catalogue and label these knowledges and place them in separate compartments.

When a compartment, such as science,

accumulated so much knowledge that it became unwieldy, it was broken down into several sub-oompartments.

All this was done

12 1

for man's own convenience. universe apart.

Scholars do not really take the

They simply observe one portion of it at a

time for intensive study of its parts. tegrated.

The universe is in­

All aspects of the universe are interrelated.


too often, man, in his zeal to study one minute aspect ,. loses ' , sight of the interrelatedness among all aspects. The child, discovering the world, does not look upon it as being composed of separately labeled compartments— unless he gets that notion from his elders.

When the young child

counts his pennies, or tops or marbles, he is not aware of the fact that he is using knowledge from that sub-compartment of mathematics which his elders have labeled "arithmetic.11 When he hikes through the woods and observes flowers and trees he is not studying "science," or "nature study," or "botany." It is from his experiences in school that the child learns to look at the world through one porthole-' after another.

In turn

he has been forced to be a mathematician, historian, a scientist, a geographer, a philologist, an artist, a musician.

The world

has thus become for many children a collection of unrelated elements.

When children do recognize interrelationships it

is often accomplished in spite of rather than on account of the manner in which knowledges are acquired in school.


nition of this fact has led concerned teachers to "correlate" and "integrate." A teacher, however, cannot correlate or integrate the world.

Neither can the child correlate or integrate it.

world is already correlated and integrated.


What the teacher


can do is to help the child to discover the Interrelatedness of phenomena.

Instead of first breaking the world apart, pre­

senting each part separately to children and then trying to correlate and Integrate the parts, the teacher should not isolate knowledges and skills from each other in the first place. If children are permitted to explore the world about them as their interests, needs, purposes, and capacities determine, the chances are that they will begin to learn to recognize in­ terrelatedness .

If children are permitted to acquire language ,

computational and other skills when they feel they are needed to help them in their explorations and discoveries of the world about them, the chances are that they will learn to recognize the integrative nature of their experiences.


however, children are made to feel that they must learn to read for the sake of reading, write for the sake of writing, compute for the sake of computing, draw for the sake of drawing, talk for the sake of talking, hammer for the sake of hammering— in short, acquire skills for the sake of acquiring skills— then the teacher must set to work trying to "correlate” or "integrate." When children are made to feel that they must acquire facts and knowledge in compartments and for their own sake, again the teacher faces the task of "correlating" or "integrating" these facts. There are definite attempts in the elementary school of today to make the curriculum more functional.

There are signs

that some teachers are moving away from total reliance upon


verbalistlc abstract mental gymnastics in the classroom.


"learn to do by doing" concept is being applied to certain aspects of the curriculum in a growing number of schools.


periments with the "activity program," the "core curriculum," the "project method,"

the •Unit of work," and "work periods"

are indications of change in the direction of functionality and integration.

The Industrial arts program with emphasis upon

the making of things, the understanding of manufacturing pro­ cesses, and the nature and use of materials, is movement away from the abstract and intellectualistic. Laudable as these innovations are, as efforts to break away from undemocratic traditional practices, they can, and sometimes do, become "frozen" into stereotyped classroom practices almost as deadly as the rigid program of studies they are intended to supplant.

The fifth-grade teacher has

her children study transportation and communication. first time she is going to have a "unit."

For the

She makes a collec­

tion of books and pictures relevant to the investigation. After working with her children for a year she becomes fairly familiar with all of the book and picture material used.


next year she has a new group of children in her fifth grade. The teacher is so used to teaching the same material year after year that she naturally has her new group "study" the trans­ portation and communication unit also.

Besides, she already

knows the books and materials and so feels that this year she can teach the unit better.

From her experiences during the

previous year she knows just what phase to take up next.


During the first year of her transportation and communi­ cation unit the teacher did a little exploring, and so, possibly, did the children. necessary.

During this second year no exploration is

By the time a third fifth-grade group comes to this

teacher, using the same social studies unit, the procedure has become so fixed that the children pursue their study in much the same prescribed and monotonous fashion as did fifth graders, of a few years back, in studying their separate history and geo­ graphy assignments. To avoid the '’freezing" of units of work some teachers refuse to conduct the same investigations for more than one or two years.

Others prefer not to remain in the same grade for

more than one or two years at a stretch. cautions.

These are good pre­

They do help teachers to stay out of a subject matter

rut. Significant changes are taking place in the teaching of arithmetic also.

A growing number of teachers are trying to

have their children recognize and deal with the quantitative problems as they arise in their everyday experiences. The children in a third grade want to invite two other groups into their room for an entertainment and party.


are going to present a play and prepare and serve refreshments. What are some of the quantitative problems inherent in this situation? fortably? altogether.

First of all, can all of the people be seated com­ Well, let us count how many people there will be But the teacher suggests that they estimate first

the number of children in each room. given.

Various estimates are

The children agree that there are about 30 in each room.


Mentally they arrive at the total of 90 children in the three rooms.

Committees are delegated, to ascertain the exact number

of people in each room.

Including teachers, there are 31, 32,

and 29 respectively in the three rooms.

The children see that

their estimate of 30 in each room was rather close. Each child, on paper if necessary,, computes the exact total. 90.

The results are compared with their estimated total of

Having arrived at the exact number of people— 92, the

children then see how many more chairs are required, since they have 43 chairs already in their room.

Again they estimate and

Judge that they need about fifty more chairs. exact number?

But what is the

The problem of subtracting 43 from 92 arises.

The teacher does not explain how to do it but allows the child­ ren to figure it out and experiment for themselves. that the answer is about 50.

They know

Some may already have arrived at

the correct result by thinking, "43 and 50 are 93.

That is one

too many, so 49 must be the right number." In the same fashion the other aspects of the problem are considered— estimating and determining floor space and chair accommodations, the amount of lemonade needed for 92 people, the number of lemons, the amount of sugar, the size of the con­ tainer, the total cost, the average cost per child to cover the total expenses. Instead of allowing the children to participate in all phases of the problem the teacher throughout could have set up the problems herself and could have required of the children


only that they perform the actual computations - 31 32 29

92 -43


She could have taken advantage of the "real life situation" to teach units and tens places, carrying, and borrowing.

She could

have utilized the problem of finding the cost per pupil to teach multiplication and division.

She could have placed the entire

emphasis upon accuracy of computation.

If such were the case,

the chances are that the children would have been made so con­ scious of the mechanical form and details of computation that they would not have been permitted to recognize and comprehend the quantitative aspects of the actual total situation.


to understand the reasons for carrying and borrowing would have loomed in the children's minds as being of primary importance. Accuracy of computation would have assumed major prominence. In the second case described, even though the children are exposed to all aspects of the quantitative situation, their mental focus is diverted from things to isolated numerical sym­ bols.

The concern with attempting to understand the scientific

aspects of the number system and the attention given to trying to achieve perfection in manipulating isolated numbers serve as a mental barrier to comprehension of the actual quantitative relationships inherent in the original social context.

It is

difficult for the children to see whether answers to their ex­ amples make sense.

Mechanical computation becomes an end in

itself and the situations out of which the problems arise are merely means.

Arithmetic is in this instance something which

is divorced from actual things and for the child it lacks functionality.


In the first case described, however, the children are exposed to all aspects of the quantitative situation.


is placed upon comprehending, understanding, estimating, Judg­ ing, visualizing, counting, measuring, comparing, experimenting, discovering.

Results, answers, conclusions must make sense.

Computation is a me^ns to arrive at sensible answers.


metic is something which is related to actual things and to specific everyday social situations. Trends Toward the Utilization of Community Resources Perhaps the most significant trend toward a more democratic curriculum is the taking of children out of the classroom and letting them study the world as it is lived.

If the community,

and the children's reactions to the community, are made the pri­ mary sources of the curriculum, there will be little chance of children's and teachers' investigations becoming abstract, theoretical, non-functional, compartmentalized, "frozen." The community is ever changing— the social, economic, and poli­ tical life

is undergoing continuous adjustments.


among people, and between people and nature, are constantly changing. ing.

The child growing up in this world is himself chang­

He is changed by life forces within him and by the inter­

action between himself and the world of people and things about him. As the child grows older his horizons grow wider. community, his world, becomes larger and more complex. more, he reacts to more.

His He sees

This is the stuff of the curriculum—

and it exists outside the classroom.


Beginnings have been made— but they are only beginnings. There are many obstacles in the way of the forward looking teacher.

She has too many children to look after, transporta­

tion facilities are meager or lacking, the adult oommunity does not always welcome school children as investigators of the grownup world of affairs. trend is here.

But in spite of obstacles the

Children are leaving the classroom to look at

the world, they are bringing parts of the world back into the classroom, and they are going back into the world taking the classroom with them.

The barrier is beginning to be broken.

Objection could be raised, and, in the opinion of the writer, should be raised to a point of view which actually or seemingly leaves out of consideration the transmission of the national and racial heritage as an important aspect of children's education.

The emphasis placed here upon the desirability of

considering immediate individual and community needs as being the focal points of the educational program does not preclude consideration of individual and social needs of peoples living in the past.

In fact, the writer's treatment of the whole prob­

lem,. what is democracy in education, should reveal the fact that he believes that a study of the past is necessary if the present is to be understood. The older children in the elementary school may be able to gain some understanding and knowledge of events in the historical past, but it seems to the writer that this is not the most important purpose for their studying history; rather, it is the attitude which elementary school children acquire


toward history which seems to be of more importance.

If chile—

dren acquire the attitude that the past is dull and dead and meaningless to them, then, as they become mature enough really to understand the past and relate it to the present, this earlier attitude would tend to stand in the way of their going to the past for help in understanding their present.

If, on

the other hand, children can gain some appreciation of the fact that the peoples of the past have caused the present and that in their words and deeds can be found inspiration and example which can help the people of the present in fashioning the future, then, as they grow in maturity and understanding, this attitude should help them to go to history for assistance in their attempts to understand their contemporary world. It would seem that, by having children go into the past to investigate origins and developments of the contemporary problems or conditions which they are studying, a favorable attitude toward history could be built.

By having children

consistently relate the present with the past and the past with the present, it would seem that not only the present but the past also would be better understood. The trend in the study of our national and racial heritage seems to be in this direction of functionality and integration and away from a systematized study of chronological sequences starting with the cave man and ending with present man.


more and more children are going into the past when they need data which are pertinent to their present needs, interests, abilities, and purposes, regardlesB of the time and place to which they have to go.


Trends Toward Experiencing and Away From Reading What are the trends with reference to reading and the use of books in the elementary school?

There are several and

they do not all seem to be consistent with each other.


laudable, perhaps, is the emphasis being placed by many teachers upon having their children read for meaning.

Especially is

this true of teachers guiding children in the beginning stages of reading.

Many first-grade teachers conscientiously try to

give their children as many common first-hand experiences as possible, they are desirous that their children acquire correct concepts, then they encourage the children to talk about their experiences and thus gain a command of words to represent their concepts.

Stories of their own experiences are told by the

children and recorded by the teacher.

The children then learn

to read their own stories. This method of introducing children to the art of reading has several virtues.

The children's first impression of reading

is that what they read has something to do with their own lives. This method insures that the words read are familiar to the children and that Uae concepts and meanings are understood by them.

The children are not just reading words divorced from


Recognizing the printed words, understanding the con­

cepts, and acquiring meaning are unified and interdependent aspects of the reading act. Unfortunately, (so it seems to the writer), after this initial stage of learning to read has been concluded, the teacher resorts to commercialized standardized reading material.



experiences, concepts, and vocabulary in the pre-primer and primer of a series of readers may be usually selected with con­ siderable care.

The authors may take pains to have the experi­

ences described correspond to the experiences of six-year-olds. However, since these books are meant for national distribution, since they are purchased by schools in all kinds of communities— large cities, slum areas, suburban towns, industrial and mining towns, rural areas— it is impossible for authors to select ex­ periences common to all children in all schools.

What authors

usually do is to describe experiences which children from econ­ omically comfortable middle-class suburban families might en­ counter: experiences which only a small portion of children in public schools ever have. The attractive illustrations and stories usually


well dressed and well fed children and adults, expensively furnished comfortable homes with well kept lawns, shining new automobiles, pet dogs and cats.

Often a mode of life is de­

picted which only a very small percentage of six-year-olds in the country have ever experienced.

Or there are descriptions

of and stories about trips to farms, circuses, amusement parks, air ports— any one of which comparatively few children have made. What does the conscientious first-grade teacher do if she wants to continue to have her children's reading be based upon their own experiences? must use these books.

There is not much she can do, if she If her children happened to have had the

experiences described in the book, well and good.

But if they

have not had them she tries to arrange trips, or bring things


into the classroom.

Since first-hand observations cannot

always be arranged, she could resort to the next best method— showing sound motion pictures.

A projector and appropriate

films are, however, extremely difficult to obtain, so the teacher must usually rely upon the use of the illustrations in the book or pictures she has collected to give her children some concepts before they read the printed material. The teacher who has started out basing the children’s reading upon their own experiences— the experiences determin­ ing the content of the reading— soon discovers that she must reverse the process.

As soon as books are Introduced, the

content of the reading determines the experiences of the child­ ren— assuming that the experiences can be provided and that the teacher still persists in trying to keep the children’s own experiences, concepts, language, and reading closely related. As the children progress in their readers— pre-primer, primer, first reader, second reader, and so on— the language, concepts, and experiences of the reading content become further and further removed from the language, concepts, and experiences of the individual children.

It becomes increasingly difficult

for the teacher to arrange experiences for the children which are comparable to those in the book.

As a consequence, after

the brief initial stage of reading related to their own ex­ periences, children are introduced to reading as being an activity which is largely unrelated to their own experiences. Furthermore, much of the reading in which children indulge, once they have been introduced to books, is this type of reading.


Reading for meaning and understanding Is thus soon supplanted by reading for escape and reading for completion of assignments. The postponement of the teaching of reading until children are a little more mature seems to the writer to be a highly commendable trend.

More and more attention is being given to

the problem of "reading readiness."

It has been found that all

six-year-old children cannot learn to read readily and should not be expected to do so.

It is stated that many factors are

involved in readiness, such as,physical health, emotional stabi­ lity, social adjustment, experiential background, language devel­ opment, mental'age.

The mental age at which children are sup­

posed to be ready to learn to read has been variously set at six years no months, six years six months, six years eight months. The trend is upward. But there seems to be a danger in placing emphasis upon the importance of mental age as a determining factor in readiness to read.

This emphasis tends to detract from the importance of

first-hand experiences and accompanying language development.


child of five or six has not lived long enough to have had suf­ ficient experiences and to have acquired adequate concepts of things, even though he may have a mental age of six years eight months.

Yet this is the child who usually shows facility with

words and learns to "read" quickly.

The best six— and seven-year-

old readers often become the omnivorous readers.

The danger

is that they may grow up with the tendency of relying primarily upon books to furnish them with concepts and meanings.

It is

sometimes muoh easier for children possessing great language


facility to spend their time in the realm of words rather than in the realm of things. Perhaps the major factors in reading readiness— assuming mental, physical, and emotional health— should be the possession of oral and aural language development adequately representing appropriate concepts which have been derived from first-hand concrete experiences.

Viewed in this way, "reading readiness"

would not apply merely to the initial stage of reading but to all stages.

Viewed in this way, the initial stage of reading

should not come until children have had enough time to live in the world of people and things to gain adequate concepts. how long a time this is has not yet been deterained.



authorities disagree, it is the opinion of the present writer that, allowing for individual differences, perhaps children should not begin to learn to read until they are eight, or nine, or even ten years old. this direction.

In any event, the trend seemsto be in

Some first-grade teachers do not Introduce

reading until the middle of the school year.

In a few schools

reading is not begun until the second grade when the children are seven. There is also a trend away from reliance upon books as the major source of knowledge.

Teachers, as has already been pointed

out, are taking their children to see their community— the store, the post-office, the fire house, the railroad station, the air port, the food market, the factory, the harbor, the farm, the forest, the field, the pond, the river, the ocean.

Upon their

return to the classroom after a trip the children compare notes,


exchange observations, dramatize what they have seen, make a written record, paint pictures, murals, friezes, construct models, perform experiments, make collections, make maps.


aid the children in gaining a better understanding.of what they have experienced, the teacher provides relevant reading material, often writing the material herself.

Or the children themselves

secure reading material— folders, pamphlets, brochures, time tables— by writing to appropriate agencies. supplementary to the actual experiences.

Such reading is

The principle ob­

served in this procedure is that the initial approach to an investigation is through first-hand observation and experience. A trend which seems to run counter to the practice of emphasizing the community as the major source for information is that practice which places emphasis upon the school library as being the chief source of knowledge.

It is the boast of

some teachers that their school library is the heart of the school.

The library is assuming increasing influence in the

educational program of many schools, which perhaps it should. It seems to be an interesting and serious paradox, however, that many of the teachers who recognize the great importance of utilizing the community as the major source of the curriculum advocate at the same time that the center of school life should be the library. Trends Toward Individual Standards And Awav From Grade Standards A major trend in the direction of greater democracy in the curriculum is the abandonment of mass standards of subjects matter


achievement in favor of individual standards of growth.


upon the knowledge that no two individuals have exactly the same potential capacity for accomplishment in any given area of human endeavor, some teachers are attempting to provide for the development of the unique potentialities of each Individual child, rather than to use the same yardstick to measure the accomplishment of all children in all areas of learning.


are providing opportunities for each child to participate in a variety of types of experience.

Since every child is capable

of making distinct and worthwhile contributions to the group welfare, these teachers are intent upon discovering and helping the child to discover those areas of performance wherein his contributions lie.

Emphasis is shifting from concern over a

child's failures to concern over a child’s successes. Ample opportunities are provided in the various art media— water paints, finger paints, pastels, crayons, oils. An abundance of three dimensional materials are made available— looms, wood, clay, linoleum, metal, leather, rafia, reed, cloth, needles, thread.

There are many opportunities for scientific

experimentation with plants, animals, soil, chemicals, electric­ ity*, pumps, engines, motors, photography.

Children are per­

mitted to engage in such activities as dramatics, vocal and instrumental music, games, sports, rhythms, dancing, motion picture production, oral and written expression of all kinds. The imaginative teacher is finding more and more materials with which children can work and more and more avenues for imitative and creative expression.

In some area each child can find the


satisfaction which comes from successful achievement and con­ tribution. Grade designations for groups of children and grade standards of accomplishment have been an inherent aspect of the academic bookish curriculum.

With the trend away from

emphasis upon acquiring abstract knowledges and toward learn­ ing through concrete experiences and social relationships, the old grade concept is losing prestige.

With the realization

that a child can be a healthy, stable, important person in spite of a relative inability to acquire skill in certain ab­ stract verbalistic learnings, teachers are devising criteria with which to measure total human growth to replace the criteria which measure only one aspect of personality— verbal intelli­ gence. The practice of maintaining grade designations and absolute mass standards of achievement may be consistent with vocational and professional education, but certainly it is not consistent with an education which is concerned with guiding children and youth in the all round development of personality and social understanding.

There must be high standards of

accomplishment and proficiency for the specialized jobs which are done in the adult world— farming, truck driving, mining, machine tending, typing, teaching, engineering, medicine, law, etc.

But who can say what the accomplishment of the six-year-

old must be before he is qualified to be a seven-year-old? With the curriculum trend pointing away from the practice of preparing children to be subject specialists, there is



growing the realization that absolute standards of subjectmatter achievement must be removed.

To be a well-rounded in­

dividual and a contributing member of his social group a child does not first have to be a successful arithmetician, historian, philologist, and scientist. The Trend Away From Individualistic Competition And Toward Cooperation There are at least two aspects of the trend toward cooperative learning which are discernible in elementary schools today.

The one is concerned with the matter of competition and

the other with cooperative group activities and investigations. Many teachers are attempting to get their children, especially in the drill subjects,to compete each with him­ self rather than each with his classmates.

Authors and pub­

lishers of textbooks and workbooks are meeting the demand for more self-competition by providing charts and graphs which children use to record their own individual improvement.


mendable as these efforts are as an indication of dissatis­ faction with the practice of pitting child against child as motivation for learning, nevertheless, placing the emphasis upon self-comparison and self-improvement seems to be only part of the problem.

The questions must be asked, "For what purpose

does the child compete with himself?

For what purpose is he

attempting to improve his own knowledge, skill, and performance?" If the child engages in self-competition merely for the sake of achieving better scores and records, then self-competition does not seem to contribute greatly to Individual and social



If, however, the child engages in self-competition for

the purpose of self-improvement or for the purpose of making a better contribution to the welfare of the group, then self­ competition does seem to be individually and socially desirable. Emphasis is shifting from individualistic learning to cooperative group learning, from acquisition of knowledges and skills for private possession to acquisition of knowledges and skills for group well-being.

In a growing number of classrooms

children are getting together in groups to investigate certain aspects of their community, or to engage in building and con­ struction, or to write and put on a play, or to plan and paint murals, or to write a book.

Within each group, responsibilities

are assigned to each member. make to the group undertaking.

Every child has a contribution to He must engage in research, he

must get first-hand information and take notes on his observa­ tions, he must Interview people, he must gain greater skill in using a saw, he must improve his handwriting, he must find out how to tackle and solve that mathematical problem, he must learn more about how to mix paints to get the desired color effects, and soon he acquires his knowledges and develops his skills and reports to his group with his contributions.

When the various

groups have completed their undertakings they then report their findings and share their information with the rest of the class, explain and display their constructions and murals, present their play, describe and donate their book. While engaging in these group enterprises, which the children recognize as being worth while, each child is in a


sense competing both with himself and with others, each group is competing with itself and with the other groups.

The child,

for the sake of his group's undertaking, strives to do a better job than he has done before and at the same time tries to have his share of the common task performed as well as or better than his co-workers' share.

The members of each group endeavor

to have the group function more effectively than previous groups and are desirous that the contribution of their group will be as good as or better than the contributions which the other groups are preparing.

Competition and cooperation, thus com­

bined, seem to contribute to the furtherance of democratic living and learning by promoting the welfare of the individual and also of the entire group. Summary o£ gjA.rrJ.c.uljg£ Pr&ctjkffe.g, An attempt was made in this chapter to Indicate some of the undemocratic aspects of the curriculum of the past and to show that, although vestiges of these practices are still ap­ parent, there is definite movement in the direction of a more democratic conception of learning. It may be argued that what the writer is advocating is simply good education and that many of the practices which he recommends have no particular bearing on democracy.

This may

be so, but the point of view held here is that the development of powers of self-rule and self-realization in the individual, as he grows in maturity, is either helped or hindered by what he learns, how he learns, and why he learns.

It is the belief


of the writer that the traditional curriculum, aspects of which are relisted* in the left-hand column below, do not help but may actually impede the fullest development of the learner's potentialities for assuming the rights, utilizing the opportunities, and accepting the responsibilities of democratic citizen­ ship.**

On the other hand, it does seem to the writer that the

present trends, listed below in the right-hand column, do con­ tribute to the development of democratic citizens.

For this

reason the one set is labeled undemocratic and the other demo­ cratic. Undemocratic Curricular Practices of the Past 1. Education consisted of acquir­

Democratic Curricular Trends of the Present 1

. Attempts are being made

ing compartmentalized, ab­

to help children recognize

stract, verbal!stic, authori­

relatedness and cause and

tarian knowledges.

effect relationships of phenomena.

2. Knowledge was valuable for its own sake, hence non-functional.


Emphasis is being placed upon the purposeful ac­ quisition of meaningful knowledges and skills for recognized use.

*See p. §3. **See pp. 40-43 for a definition of some of the rights, opportunities, and responsibilities of democratic citizen­ ship.


3. The curriculum was divorced

3. The community is being

from the Immediate economic,

utilized as the major

political, and social life of

source for curriculum

the community.


4. Books were the dominant

4. There is the tendency to

source for acquiring know­

have children learn about

ledge and wisdom.

the world of people and things through first-hand contacts, the use of books being relegated to a sup­ plementary position as a secondary source for knowledge.

5. Standards of achievement In

5. Provisions are being made

the elementary and secondary

to discover and develop

schools were determined


largely by the entrance re­

talents among children,

quirements of the private

with the recognition that

liberal arts college.

the same standard of

abilities and

achievement should not be set for all children in any area of learning. 6.

Achievement was based upon


Conditions are being estah

Individualistic, competitive,

lished which foster learn­

acquisitive endeavor.

ing for the purpose of enhancing individual and group welfare rather than


for the purpose of in­ dividual aggrandizement.'1' The curriculum is Just one aspect of the entire elementary education program and perhaps should not "be viewed in Isolation from the other aspects.

Financial support of education, ad­

ministration, supervision, and curriculum all seem to be inter­ related and interdependent.


Democracy must be practiced in all phases of organized education if it is to be practiced effectively in any one phase. Such problems as administration, supervision, organization within a school, and classification and promotion will be con­ sidered next.

1. See J. Murray Lee and Doris May Lee, The Child and His Curriculum, pp. 174-175, for a more complete tabulation of contrasts between the old and new curricular practices

CHAPTER IV ADMINISTRATION OF THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL The Teacher As Administrator - The Administrator As Teacher By the very nature of her duties and responsibilities the teacher is an administrator and educational leader.


ing the learning experiences of twenty, thirty, or forty child­ ren requires all of the personal qualifications usually attri­ buted to the successful school administrator and educational leader. The Committee on Certification of Superintendents of Schools, appointed by the American Association of School Ad­ ministrators, lists the four following qualifications for educational leadership: 1. Ability to stimulate and encourage growth among members of the teaching staff C substitute— members of the class}. 2. Ability to organize members of the teaching staff Csubstitute— members of the class] so there is freedom for and encouragement to creative contri­ butions to instructional improvement. 3. Ability to keep employees £ substitute— childrenJ working as individuals and at the same time as a group with common objectives and a common goal. 4. Ability to direct the implementation of these services and policies which are recognized as sound and practicable. Whether the educational leader be a teacher concerned with the growth and development of thirty children, or a 1. American Association of School Administrators, The Superin­ tendent of Schools and His Work;, p. 19i


principal of a school concerned with the growth and development of thirty teachers, or a superintendent of schools concerned with the growth and development of a thousandJieachers and principals— the possession of the same basic abilities for leadership seems to be requisite. In Chapter I,^ in the discussion of the characteristics of democracy, it was stated, "The role of leaders would in some ways be similar to that of educators— leaders would encourage followers to participate in organizations and assist them in the cooperative solution of problems; leaders would encourage follow­ ers to study and acquire greater knowledge to aid in the making of wise decisions; leaders would help followers to become arti­ culate in expressing their desires."

This aspect of leadership

applies to every educational worker whether his direct contacts be with children, youth, or adults. The teacher engaged in directing children in experiences consistent with democratic philosophy must be able to organize children into working groups, and help them learn, to organize themselves in carrying out common ventures.

She must be able

to arrange details incident to the making of trips and explora­ tions into the community, and help children to learn to arrange such details.

She must be able to make contacts with community

agencies, to cooperate with parents and others in the community, and help children to learn to make such contacts.

She must be

able to select and utilize effectively and efficiently a variety 1. Pp. 41-42.


of educational materials, and help children to learn to select and utilize such materials effectively and efficiently.


short, the democratic teacher must have the ability to direct, guide, manage, organize,, and lead people who are engaged in a variety of work, play,- and study experiences.

This ability

calls for administrative skill of a high order. On the other hand, the administrative ability required of the teacher who pursues the traditional undemocratic curri­ culum is of a somewhat different nature.

Her responsibilities

consist largely of having th^ children come into the room quietly when the bell rings, perform tasks which are often routine, and follow her Instructions and orders.

This teacher

has no administrative problems except, perhaps, the taking of attendance, seeing that she has enough paper and textbooks in the cupboard, and maintaining what often amounts to submissive order.

This teacher is not very much concerned with problems

arising from human relationships, because the children, while under her care, do not engage to any extent in social intercourse. An important aspect of the Job of administration is that of coordination— coordination of the efforts of several people who are engaged in a variety of functions and responsibilities pertaining to a common larger undertaking.

In this sense, the

teacher in the undemocratic classroom has not many administra­ tive responsibilities, while the teacher in the democratic classroom has.


Th& Curriculum Determines the AdffllJ^taaa&^a The purpose and nature of the curriculum seem directly related to the purpose and nature of administration, whether ' It be classroom administration, school administration, or school system administration.

In fact, it might be argued

that the purpose and nature of the curriculum determine the purpose and nature of administration. When the curriculum is conceived of as a body of knowledges and skills to be memorized and acquired, the teacher's function is to make piecemeal assignments of the knowledges and skills, and then to give tests in order to determine whether the pieces have, temporarily at any rate, been retained.

Since the know­

ledges and skills which the children are to absorb and perfect have been determined in-advance by others, the teacher is re­ lieved of the responsibility of deciding what her children must study.

Her major problem often becomes one of getting her

children to go through the classroom routine as docilely as possible.

Usually she can manage her class and maintain discip­

line, but occasionally she meets children who rebel against such treatment and cause trouble.

When the rebellious ones do not

respond to her authority the teacher sends them to the office. The school administrator, the principal, then takes over one of his major responsibilities— that of disciplinarian. The principal of a school engaged in distributing among children fixed and predetermined blocks of knowledge has cer­ tain well-defined duties to perform in order to insure the smooth operation of the school.

In addition to seeing that


order and discipline are maintained in the classrooms, in the corridors, in the lavatories, on the playground, and on the stairs, the principal keeps records of attendance, maintains an alertnesswith Respect to truancy, distributes supplies, has conferences with parents of recalcitrant children.

The prin­

cipal may call faculty meetings to issue rules and regulations emanating from either the superintendent or himself.

Since the

teacher's major responsibilities involve the following of the course of study, the maintaining of discipline among her own children, and the keeping of records, she really has not much need to confer with her colleagues on school policies.


problems are quite often her own and she is accountable only to the principal or the superintendent for what she does and how she does it.

So, the teacher in this school usually spends

all of her time in her own room with her own children, working more or less independently of the other teachers.

In this schocfl.

real administrative leadership is of negligible importance as a part of the equipment of the principal as well as of the teacher. In a school where teachers attempt to evolve a democratic curriculum with their children and parents, the nature and function of the school administration must of necessity be somewhat different.

The child and his experiences would be

the curriculum; the child, the people and things about him, and their interaction would be the curriculum.

Since the experi­

ences in which the children engage would be determined by child­ ren and teacher together with the active cooperation of parents


and others, they could not very well he detemLned very long beforehand; they could not be written into a course of study. Only the broad general principles guiding democratic educative experiences could be determined in advance.

The actual experi­

ences would evolve from day to day and week to week under the teacher's guidance. Since the present experiences of the children would be determined largely by what their past experiences have been and, in turn, would determine what their future experiences would be, no one teacher

with her children and parents could

select the children's experiences independently of the other classroom units in the school.

The principal, and teachers,

parents, and children from all rooms would therefore get to­ gether to formulate the curricular policy of the entire school. The democratic relationships and procedures existing within a classroom would seem to necessitate the same kind of relationships and procedures within the school as a whole. In much the same way and spirit that teachers.assist children to organize themselves for the purpose of pursuing their common objectives, so the principal would assist the teachers to organ­ ize themselves for the purpose of pursuing their common objec­ tives.

As it would be the responsibility of the teachers and

parents to help children develop personal and social qualities consistent with democratic living, so it would be the responsi­ bility of the principal to help teachers and parents develop their personal and social qualities consistent with democratic living.

In short, it would be the principal's function to help


•the teachers, parents, and children carry out their educational purposes. This responsibility of the principal would call for ad­ ministrative ability and educational leadership of a high order. The principal would require,, beyond the possession of certain important personality traits, a thorough knowledge of the com­ munity and its problems, a wide acquaintance among the people of the community, and a sound understanding of and respectful attitude toward children of all ages.

The principal must

practice in everyday deeds the democratic philosophy which he should be able to articulate.

The principal must also guide

the organization of the school so that each participant in the life of the school can function to the best of his ability. Teachers, parents, and children of such a school would from time to time request the assistance of other educational workers besides the principal in conducting their educational program.

The services, counsel, advice, stimulation, and leader­

ship of a variety of specialists and technicians would be needed and sought— specialists in human relationships and democratic living (social and political scientists), in child nature and guidance (psychologists, general supervisors), in health (physi­ cians, psychiatrists, nurses), in the several areas of knowledge and the arts (subject specialists).

They would need the assis--

tence of specialists in accounting, building design, and mainten­ ance.

They would need the assistance of members of the community

not directly connected with the school system— workers in the other occupations which furnish goods or services to the commtinity.


£ Democratic Admlnlstratlve Organization If the community is of such a size that more than one school is needed to provide for the children*s educational ex­ periences, the administrative and organizational problems be­ come more complex, since more buildings and more people are involved.

But again, the purpose and nature of the educational

program within the several classrooms determine the puipose and nature of the administration of the school system as a whole. In the school system which is based largely upon the undemocratic curriculum, the teachers tell the children what they should do and how they should do it; the principals tell the teachers what they should do and how they should do it; and the superintendent tells the principals what they should do and how they should do it.

The entire administrative structure and

machinery is devised to facilitate ease and efficiency in passing the word along from the top to the bottom— from the superintendent to the child.* On the other hand, the school system which is composed of classroom units concerned with the development of democratic curricula would require, it is the belief of the writer, a different sort of structure and machinery.

In the classroom,

the teacher, parents, and children with the assistance of the principal, educational specialists, and members of the community at large, would determine the educational experiences suitable •for the children.

Within the school, the principal, teachers,

*This may seem to be an exaggerated picture, but the writer knows of schools and systems which operate essentially in this fashion.


representatives of parents and possibly the older children, with the assistance of educational specialists and representa­ tives from the community at large would formulate educational policies with reference to the needs of the school as a whole. Within the entire school system, representatives of teachers, parents, and adults in the community at large, to­ gether with educational specialists and the superintendent, would formulate the educational policies of the entire communi­ ty..

If this body should be too large for effective functioning,

they would select a smaller body from their own number to be the ultimate policy determining body for the entire school system. In this kind of administrative organization the superin­ tendent would have the opportunity really to become the educa­ tional leader which the American Association of School Adminis­ trators. describes.

The superintendent would be the true

educational leader not only of his fellow school workers, but of the lay public as well. A democratic administration, as envisioned here, would provide the machinery whereby the educational needs of the children and youth, in relation to the needs of the community, would determine the educational program of the schools.


would encourage and provide opportunity for all concerned with educational problems to share in the making of decisions and the solving of problems.

It would enable the organized school

system to work with other community agencies as an integral part of the total effort of the community to further democratic living.

By Involving large numbers of parents and other laymen,


as well as all educational workers and children, in the pro­ cesses of policy making and administration, a democratic ad­ ministration would give the community as a whole some basis upon which to determine how much of its total wealth should be devoted to school support. A democratic administration would provide machinery whereby representatives could be selected by and be responsible to those who are represented.

The parents from each classroom

would elect their representatives and the adults from the school district would elect their representatives to the school council which would be composed of all of these representatives and all of the teachers and the principal of the school.


among the members of each school council representatives would be elected to form the community-wide council— teachers would be chosen by teachers, parents by parents, laymen by laymen. The city-wide school council would then elect from among its own membership, if this body be large, the board of education. The board of education thus would consist of parents and other laymen, teachers and other school workers, and the superintendent. The main function of such a board would be to establish the educational policy of the community.

By the very nature of

this method of selecting the board members, it would be assured that each member be an active participant not only in the life of one of the schools but also in at least one of the classrooms. Each board member would, therefore, be close to the problem of educating children and youth.

Not only that, each board member

would of necessity meet regularly with those who selected him


and, therefore, would be given frequent opportunity to account for his stewardship.

Moreover, in this type of organization,

ideas, suggestions, proposals, decisions could easily be trans­ mitted from classroom to board and from board to classroom. A democratic administration would provide machinery whereby administrators, consultants, supervisors, and all leaders would be selected and removed from office by the pro­ fessional workers and laymen whom they serve.

As Hopkins'1'

puts it: The democratic conception holds that differences in function are necessary to operate an organization effectively. Some functions carry a leadership re­ lationship to certain groups of individuals. In a democracy, however, leadership is not permanent. Leaders rise and fall in terms of their ability to help those whom they serve meet their needs more satisfactorily.• No person can ever meet this test continuously over a period of years. One person serves in this capacity for a time only. He is re­ placed by another when new needs arise in the group in which a new leader can give better guidance. Thus in democratic administration a person may serve as a principal so long as he can give leader­ ship to the unit groupsCclassrooms 3 in the opera­ tion of his school. When such leadership ceases, he should obtain some other assignment in the school system where his interests and talents can be capitalized. In like manner, all persons who represent resource leaders attached to Ja central office Cconsultants, specialists, supervisors!! should remain in these- positions as long as they can serve the leadership function. When they can no longer guide the operating units of the schools, they should find some other service and new leaders should arise to take their places. The principal would be chosen by the teachers, parents, and laymen of the local school council.

The supervisors,

1. L. Thomas Hopkins, Interaction: The Democratic Process, p. 420.


educational consultants, specialists would be chosen,through appropriate machinery, by the teachers, principals, parents, and laymen of the schools served by them.

The superintendent

would be appointed by the community-wide school council or, acting for them, by the board of education.

The superintendent

and other leaders would thus be chosen by both teachers and the lay public. A democratic administration would furnish machinery' whereby those who are to execute policies would legislate them as well.

There would be no separation of staff into a

legislative and an executive.

Every participant in the school

organization would be both legislator and executive.

This is

just another way of saying that everyone from the child to the board of education member would participate in establishing educational policy and have a function to perform in putting the policy into operation. Such democratic administration as conceived here is based upon the belief that every person, young and old, can learn to assume the responsibility of participating with others in solving their individual and collective problems.

It is

based upon the principle that the people are sovereign and must make accounting to no one except themselves.

It respects

the individual personalities of all people— children, parents, teachers, administrators, office workers, maintenance workers, community workers.

It is based upon the belief that the pro­

cesses by which decisions are made are as Important as the decisions themselves— that the more democratic the process, the more intelligent in the long run is the decision.


The Present Administrative Organization The pattern of public school administration which is prevalent in the United States today is described by Douglass thus :1 Whether his title be principal or superintendent, the head of the schools is the chief executive officer of the board of education. To him will be delegated the authority he requires to carry out the policies of the board. If the school is small, the superintendent or principal will be called upon to handle the various administrative problems himself; if it is large, it will be neces­ sary for him to delegate much of the work to his assistant or subordinate officers, giving final approval or disapproval to their work and accept­ ing the responsibility for his decisions . . . . Schools exist primarily to provide instruction and training for boys and girls. The superintend­ ent is therefore charged with the responsibility of formulating a curriculum and of improving as much as possible the quality of instruction. Since these are both dependent upon the qualifications of teachers, the superintendent may be expected to ask, and to receive at the hands of the board, the responsibility for selecting the members of the teaching, supervisory, and administrative staffs. It is often argued that this type of administrative organization is democratic, first of all, because the board of education is either elected directly by the people of the community or is appointed by the elected political head of thecommunity.


it is added, in a democracy,

there must be people who are in positions of responsibility and authority, otherwise anarchy would exist. These arguments may be countered with certain questions. Is the machinery by which board members at present are chosen 1. Aubrey A. Douglass, The American School S.vstem. pp. 084085.


of such a nature that they must keep their constituents in­ formed as to their official acts, that they must discuss with them fundamental issues of policy, that they must learn their wishes and will, that they can be removed if they do not act in their interests?

Is the machinery by which board members

are chosen of such a nature that all economic and social classes gain representation proportionate to their numbers in the community?

In short, is the machinery such that it enables

the community as a whole to select board members who will act in the interests of the population at large? all of these questions seems to be: No.

The answer to

At the present time

the machinery by which school board members are usually selected makes it very difficult or even impossible to achieve all of these ends. Board members usually have no direct contacts with every section of the community; generally, they represent the in­ terests of the few "better elements" only.

In fact, it is

advocated by educational thinkers that board members should be the "highest type" of citizen. In every community steps should be taken year in and year out to assure that the highest type of citizens become -Candidates for, and are elected to, school board membership. Civic organizations and individual citizens of the community should urge persons of the highest type to become candidates for the school board and should support their candidacies by every proper means. Since great persons are usually modest, the best qualified persons will hesitate to become candidates without this urging.1 1. Ward G. Reeder, The Fundamentals of Public School Adminis­ tration, pp. 81-82.


To what type of persons, however, does the term "highest type" usually refer?

Must he of necessity be a banker, lawyer,

manufacturer, merchant, or may he be found also among the clerks, factory workers, day laborers?

Is such a citizen to be found

only In the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, National Associ­ ation

of Manufacturers, University Club or may he also be

among the millions of people who, outside of union affiliation, cannot always afford membership dues in clubs and associations? Is the "highest type" of citizen among the small minority with a college degree or may he be found as well among those whose formal education never went beyond the elementary or high-school level? Counts^ In his investigation of the social and vocational status of members of city boards of education discovered that they usually come from the upper social strata of society. Those people who claim that the present method of selecting board members is really democratic must admit (so it appears to the writer) that it does not insure proportional representa­ tion from all strata of society. The board of education by law is responsible for educa­ tional policy.

How can board members intelligently fulfill

this obligation to society if they seldom or never participate in the learning experiences of children and teachers?


do they get their ideas as to how children learn, as to what the needs and interests of the children are?

Under present

arrangements board members make decisions as to educational

1. George S. Counts, The Social Composition of Boards of Education.


policy relying largely upon their memory of their own past schooling, the ideas of interest groups in the community, and the recommendations of the superintendent.

In fact, it is

recognized that the policy-making body need not necessarily gain first-hand knowledge of educational problems, but rather rely entirely upon others for information and recommendations. It is said, for example, that boards of education should not enact legislation, should not make policies, without the recommendations of their professional experts, particularly the recom­ mendations of their chief executive officer; namely, the superintendent. No legislation should be enacted except on the basis of complete information, and, left to their own initiative and devices, boards of education find it diffi­ cult to secure this information. One of the chief functions of the superintendent of schools is to secure, to organize, and to present to the board such information as it may desire or need. In a well-administered school system not much, if any, legislation will be enacted by the board of education which has not been recommended by the superintendent.1 According to the present scheme, after the board makes or approves policies it delegates to the superintendent the responsibility of executing the policies.

The superintendent

then delegates duties and responsibilities to the members of his staff.

The child is thus responsible to the teacher, who

is responsible to the principal, who is responsible to the assistant superintendent, who, with all members of the staff, is responsible to the superintendent.

From the point of view

of democratic relationships, this question of responsibility is of major importance. 1. Reeder, 0j). clt.. p. 80.


One of the foundation stones of democracy, as well as of any other form of society, is responsibility. bility there would be chaos.

Without responsi­

The factor,however, which differ­

entiates responsibility in a democracy from responsibility in a fascist dictatorship, is— responsibility to whom. racy

In a democ­

the leader is responsible to the followers— under fascism,

the followers are responsible to the leader.

Perhaps that is

why it has been said of certain present public school admini­ strative arrangements, that if fascism triumphed in our country not many fundamental changes would have to be made in the way we administer some of our schools.

According to this viewpoint,

there seems to be already available in some systems machinery which insures that the followers (children, teachers, and other members of the staff)

be responsible to the leader (the super­

intendent); the machinery seems to exist which fosters dictator­ ship— a dictatorship from board and superintendent to principal to teacher to child. The general character of school administration was determined during the early years of the present century when educational leaders were influenced by the administrative organization of mass production industry.

The schools in the

cities were growing at a rapid rate, new buildings were con­ stantly being erected, the number of employees was everincreasing, millions of dollars were being expended. lem

The prob­

of running a school system seemed to be similar in many

1 ways to the problem of running an industry. 1. Hopkins, 0j>. cit., p. 401.

This is how Hopkins


compares the two organizations: Business


1. Stockholders 2. Board of directors with chaiman 3. President aschief executlve officer 4. Staff of vice-presidents, job-analysis experts, cost accountants, research workers, inspectors 5. Heads of departments 6 . Foremen 7. Workers 8 . Raw materials

1. The public as stockholders 2. Board of education with chairman 3. Superintendent of schools as chief executive officer 4. Staff of supervisors, currieulum directors, business managers, and other re­ search workers 5. Assistant superintendents and directors 6 . Principals 7. Teachers 8 . Pupils