Posts Tagged ‘Education Reform’

John Dewey Self-Rule School

September 6, 2012


Thirty-five Youngsters Being Instructed Under Self-Rule Plan; Students Make Own Laws, Inflict All Penalties

A school where there are no “don’ts,” where the teacher is not “boss” and where the child solves his own problems with the aid of his small companions, is the innovation in education which has just been launched in Berkeley.

Mrs. Paul Eliel, well-known graduate of the University of California, is responsible for the deviation from the set paths of education. Through her interest and with the aid of a group of Berkeleyans has been started in the college city, at 2731 Bancroft way, the John Dewey school, “a co-operative effort in progressive education.”

Mothers as well as children are pupils at the school and weekly classes are held for parents to “educate” them in modern child-raising.

Although the first “project” school established in the bay region and the second one in the state, the John Dewey school gains its inspiration from the famous Lincoln school, operated in conjunction with Columbia university in New York; from a similarly well known “progressive” school of its kind in Dayton and from less than a dozen such institutions which have pioneered the way in new educational practice in the nation.


As much as possible classes are held outdoors at the John Dewey school. The rooms, however, are bright with cheerful paint, the walls hung with illustrations of fairy stories and with little low green tables and chairs scattered about.

There is not a nail anywhere to hold the furniture to the floor. Neither are there any “no whispering” laws at the schools by a dictatorial teacher.

Neatness and consideration of the feelings of others are part of the school curriculum.

Never are children punished by the teacher. There is an unwritten code of ethics among the 35 pupils in which punishment is meted out by the children themselves.

“One of the children used bad language on the school grounds the other day,” explains Mrs. Eliel. “A conference of the children was called in which the teacher played the role of onlooker and the youngsters discussed the seriousness of the offense and voted what should be done in the matter. They finally decided that the guilty party should sit in a chair for 15 minutes. The wonderful thing about the system is that the offender never seeks to escape punishment as so often is the case when the teacher in the chastiser.”


Citizen-making is the real object of the “project” or “progressive” school, declares Mrs. Eliel, who placed her children in such an institution while she was studying for a master’s degree at Columbia and became so enthused with the plan that following her return to Berkeley she interested friends in establishing the John Dewey school.

“Two important factors in developing useful citizens are the ability to reach independent judgments and to reason clearly” explains Mrs. Eliel, who has the role of executive secretary of the school, the duties of which position she fills without compensation.

“These cannot be gained through the enforcing of discipline by one in authority nor from the solving by the teacher but must come to the child through the learning of self-control and through effective experience. By fostering situations that will comfort the children in everyday life in later years and that will demand thoughtful reactions, the school believes that these powers can be developed.


“When a grown person is given a problem to solve is he placed in a seat nailed to the floor and told to get busy on it without moving from his place or talking out loud to anyone near him? No, of course not. That is why we have no nailed-down seats in our classrooms, why our pupils are free to move about and to seek information and counsel where they will. It is by discussing problems with other children that they reach their conclusions.

“Furthermore in a class of 35 children, interests are not all alike. Consequently we do not say that all must do one thing. The child is allowed to develop the problem that especially interests him and from that problem we guide him to other things. We are teaching children to be independent thinkers and reasoners, to solve each problem as it comes up. Naturally it is the thing in which the person is most vitally interested on which he works the hardest.


“It is equally true with children. If we can stimulate that interest and reach out from it to other things, have we not accomplished much for the child and at the same time given him a joy in his work? There are no truants at our school; the children are all anxious to come to classes and loath to leave. That they are learning the necessary fundamentals of life is evident, also.”

Dolls, paint boxes, work-benches, blocks and other playthings are among the “text books” used at the school. That there are other real text books, too, is evidenced by the fact that the “Three R’s” are not neglected in any way. So far kindergarten, first and second grades comprise the school but a further development is anticipated. Interest in the movement has been taken by leading educators of the bay region and the work is being closely watched by school experts.

Sponsors of the school include Mrs. Warren Gregory, Dr. Jessica B. Perxotto, Mrs. Louis Bartlett, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Lamson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stetson, Jr., Miss Ralph Merritt, Mrs. W.W. Douglas, Mrs. F.C. Turner, Mrs. Maurice Lombardi, Mrs. Frederick Athern, Mrs. Harold L. Leupp, Mrs. H.F. Jackson, Dr. V.E. Dickson.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Sep 18, 1921

[Excerpt] Google Book Link

 Perhaps his greatest joy is his “doll” who calls herself grown-up now. She has dolls of her own and out in Berkeley, Calif., has come into existence this year, a school for the dolls of Harriet J. Eliel and a “group”. It is called the John Dewey School. That is surely some name to live up to. Berkeley is a hot bed for progressive education, judging by the numbers who join from that city.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Apr 8, 1925

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OAC on Harriet Eliel:

Harriet Judd Eliel was born in 1890 in Evanston, Illinois. She attended the University of California, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Health and Social Welfare in 1913. After the birth of her second son in 1916, she completed her Master of Arts degree in Education, also at the University of California. Between 1921 and 1924, she established and directed the experimental John Dewey School in Berkeley, California, which her sons attended.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Aug 25, 1925

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Wikipedia on William John Cooper:

William John Cooper (November 24, 1882 – September 19, 1935) was an American educator who served as US Commissioner of Education from February 1929 to July 1933. According to the New York Times: “His fundamental theory of education, which he often repeated, was that the ultimate goal of teaching should be, not how to make a living, but how to live. Nevertheless, he believed that the system of education in this country should break away from the older traditions of Europe and seek to express the cultural developments of the New World. In one of his last public addresses Dr. Cooper urged a complete reorganization of the education system in this country to bring the schools into closer harmony with modern conditions.”

Would you like your children to be exposed to such blatant Commy propaganda?

September 5, 2012

Image from LiveJournal – photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Washington Reports

By Fulton Lewis, Jr.

(Copyright, 1953, King Features Syndicate, Inc.)

WASHINGTON — A Tennessee state legislature committee investigation of school textbooks has been used by opponents as a dry run for their tactics in trying to halt a nationwide probe of subversive influences in public schools.

The Tennessee legislature set up a committee last month to examine school books. Nashville was the site of the first hearing. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is to be target No. 2.

Despite claims by committee members at the outset that they were making no accusations and were merely interested in hearing witnesses on both sides of the question, the usual outcries of “smear” and “book burning” arose at once. As always, school officials and officers of the National Education Association behaved as though the investigation were a personal insult.

ONE OF THE MOST vocal critics of the Tennessee investigation is Harold R. Benjamin, chairman of the Division of Social Foundations, at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. He hurried to Washington, after appearing in Nashville, to inform the American Council on Education that “local school boards, and college trustees, not the legislature, are responsible for determining school policy.”

He described the Tennessee probe as an example of “two-bit politicians” mocking those in Moscow who tell “good Communists what to follow.”

While Professor Benjamin was babbling on in Washington, three more teachers were suspended by the superintendent of schools in New York City for refusing to answer questions about their Communist affiliations.

Bella Dodd, until recently a high functionary and heroine of the Communist party, testified before a U.S. Senate investigating committee that there are approximately 3,000 more teachers just like the three fired in New York who are still conducting classes in our public schools. The “two-bit” politicians in the United States Senate took due note of this, and investigations by committees of both the House and Senate have been scheduled. This is what is driving educational gadflies to distraction, as did the Nashville hearing.

SOMEWHERE ALONG the line large numbers of school officials and instructors acquired the idea that their business is nobody else’s business. They publicly denounce any check-ups on their activity, and generally resort to abuse when it is even hinted that some parents might object to what their children are being taught.

The trouble is, as noted in this space long ago, that some textbooks were written by those agog over the Soviet revolution and as is the case with most authors, they couldn’t keep their own enthusiasm from running away with historical facts. The point our professors miss, by and large, is that history during the past two decades was made by those promoting immediate social revolution in the U.S.A., and, whether they like to hear it or not, the textbooks reflect that enthusiasm.

In Nashville, critics of the investigation came right out and stated that school officials have an “independence” which is not to be tampered with under any pretext. In other words, if you submit your children to public education you surrender control over what is stuffed into their heads. Well, maybe so in some places, but not in America. In fact, those “liberals” who demand total “independence” in teaching ought to look over their shoulders at Soviet Russia, which is one country where parents really have no control over what is taught.

I HAVE YET TO find anyone burning textbooks in their country. The voluble critics of school investigations ought to put up or shut up.

Let me give you an example of what some of us parents are concerned about in public school instruction. The National Education Association, along with the John Dewey Society, The American Education Fellowship and Unesco, has prepared a series of handbooks which are in use in some schools. The series is entitled “Paths to Better Schools.”

Special lectures are used in conjunction with the series, which is devoted largely to making one-worlders out of our children. A recent list of speakers included the name of Dr. Harlow Shapely, the Communist front joiner of note. Among the recommended literature for our offspring unfortunate enough to encounter this project in school are books by Howard Fast, an admitted Communist writer; Owen Lattimore, indicted for alleged perjury and accused by a Senate committee of being a “conscious, articulate” propagandist for Russia; as well as Gene Weltfish, whose place in history will be noted by the fact that he agreed with Moscow’s charge that American troops are using germ warfare against Communists in Korea.

Would you like your children to be exposed to such blatant Commy propaganda?

The Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) Feb 6, 1953

Reform in Education – The Quincy Method

September 10, 2010

Since it is back-to-school time, here is an education-related post:


Some of the leading eastern papers are now discussing what is termed the Quincy experiment. This experiment was a complete revolution in the system of teaching in the common schools of Quincy, Massachusetts.

The State of Massachusetts has long enjoyed an enviable reputation for the excellence of its public schools. Massachusetts is a very progressive State, perhaps because it has more radical thinkers to the square mile than any other section of the nation. So that it is not altogether surprising that the public school trustees of Quincy, instead of remaining satisfied with the system in use because it was admitted to be good, made a searching examination into it to determine its actual value.

They became convinced that the education the children were receiving was superficial, that it was their memory not their reasoning power that was being developed. They concluded that the whole theory of instruction was wrong, that the children were being taught pretty much as parrots are. And, it should be remembered, the system of teaching in Quincy was the same that is pursued in what are called the best common schools throughout the country.

The school trustees of Quincy determined to try a complete change of system. They substituted practice for precept in the schools. They secured as superintendent an enthusiastic young German instructor of radical views. He secured a staff of teachers whom he imbued with his own idea of instruction, and the Quincy experiment began.

The reform began in the primary schools. Instead of learning to read by studying the alphabet the children were made familiar with short words written on the blackboard. They were taught to understand the meaning of combinations of words almost insensibly.

The number of studies in the grammar schools was cut down from seven to three — reading, writing and arithmetic. In the place of the old method of committing lessons from books to memory, the pupils were taught by incessant practice in the school hours. They were obliged to write a great deal in school – not mechanically from copies, but from their heads. Thus by constant practice they rapidly acquired the art of composition and could write almost as easily as they could speak.

Spelling and grammar were naturally acquired by the correction of errors.

The old course of text books was almost entirely abandoned. Fresh and entertaining articles in Schribner’s and other current periodicals were substituted for the time-honored Reader. The new regime did not, however, include the teaching of drawing, which has been advocated by our esteemed contemporary on the Comstock. The idea was to reduce the number of studies rather than extend them; to teach a few branches of knowledge thoroughly, rather than give pupils a superficial smattering of many.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr., lives in Quincy, and is well known to the reading public, by his able articles in the Atlantic. He is a thinker and a close student of social questions. He describes the results of the new system as most gratifying. The new plan, Mr. Adams says, is “a complete negative of the whole present common school system, founded on a faith in the infinite capacity of children to know at an early age a little of everything.”

The new system has been in use three years. Under it the pupils have made greater progress, and take an interest in their studies. The school trustees of Quincy are delighted with the success of their experiment. The tax-payers have reason to be, for the cost of keeping up the schools has been reduced from $19.25 for each scholar per year to $15.68.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Oct 25, 1879


The “Quincy Method” of instruction which was some time ago described in this column, is attracting widespread attention. It is the system of teaching now in use in the public schools of Quincy, Mass. The same method has long been followed in Germany, in which country most of the reforms in education have originated.

The Quincy method is a radical reform in the whole system of teaching in the common schools. Instead of loading the memory of pupils with a mass of abstract rules and principles, it aims to develop their perceptive and creative faculties, and reasoning powers. The system pursued can best be explained by illustration. Take, for instance, the subject of grammar. The Quincy trustees, in examining the merits of the old system, found that while most of the pupils could parse glibly and were well acquainted with the rules of syntax, the majority of them could not express themselves well and correctly in a simple letter or other form of composition. And so with other studies.

The new method aims to teach children to do things correctly, rather than to fill their minds with rules for analyzing what is done. In composition its object is to enable the pupil to write a perfect sentence, instead of teaching him to analyze and correctly parse an example.

A mother in the kitchen does not show the daughter how to make good bread by giving her a loaf and telling her to analyze it. She gives her materials, shows her how and in what proportions to mix them together, and after repeated trials the girl at length learns how to make bread. She might spend her whole life in analyzing loaves of bread in order to learn their constituent elements, and yet never be able to make a good one. In that way she might become a skilful analyist, but not a good bread maker.

In all the practical teaching of life the same method is pursued as in the forgoing illustration. The Quincy plan is nothing more than the application of the same principle in the school room.

There is no subject of more vital importance than this one of education. If the methods pursued in the common schools of this State are not what they should be, they ought to be amended. The Quincy experiment has proved a success. After several years trial of the new system, it has been found that the pupils are better educated under it than under the old. The cost to the tax payers has also been lessened.

School trustees throughout the country would do well to enquire into this matter of reform in the common schools. Copies of the reports of the Quincy school trustees could doubtless be obtained on application. They contain a full account of the system of teaching now used at Quincy and an explanation of the methods pursued.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Dec 16, 1879

A Thorough Success.

The “Quincy System” had been given a trial in one of the Boston primary schools, and thorough success was the result. A writer in the Herald, of Boston, says that in a few months the little ones, many of whom did not know their letters, have learned to read and write correctly, not only in printed text-books but in script. They also do sums in simple arithmetic with remarkable facility.

In a class of sixty, all of them under seven years of age, there were at least forty whose chirography was better than that of the average graduate of our grammar and high schools.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Jan 30, 1880

Such whiners in this next article, ha ha! ** See last sentence.

The Quincy School System.

Under the head “Quincy and San Francisco,” the Pacific School Journal gives the following, with the exception of the item regarding Nevada:

“The Quincy Method is being put into practice by some of the Nevada teachers.” “One of its fundamental doctrines is, that the best teachers should be placed in the lowest primary grades.” “It would seem then, that to secure the best results, the primary teacher should be wide awake, eve enthusiastic, of great tact,  good judgment, versed in child-nature, large-hearted, kindly in word and act, ladylike in deportment, unwearied in well-doing and devoted, heart, soul, mind and strength to her work.” “Our teachers are ready for Quincy, but as long as sixty or eighty children are packed together to be taught by one solitary, unaided energy, so long will there be no Quincy System.”

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 12, 1880

Francis W. Parker (Image from



From the Chicago Tribune, July 2.

Col. F.W. Parker, late Superintendent of the Primary Schools of  Boston, has entered upon his duties as Principal of the Cook County Normal School, at Englewood.

He is a man of 45 years, in robust health, and mentally vigorous. His lifework has been that of a professional teacher, and he is an enthusiast on the subject of reform in the methods of education. Many years ago he became convinced of the radically faulty character of the system now in vogue, and to confirm his newly formed views spent three years in Europe, principally in Germany, studying with the view of becoming a competent instructor of would-be teachers. Upon his return to this country he applied the test of his new experience to the schools of Norfolk County, Mass. The results of this test were shown in the now famous “Walton Report.” In the light of its disclosures Mr. Charles Francis Adams, Jr., characterized the old-school system as “cram and smatter.”

Under Col. Parker’s new system the schools of Quincy were lifted out of the old rut, and they now lead all other schools of the State. From Quincy Col. Parker was called to the Superintendency of the schools of Boston. He accepted the call to Chicago soon after entering upon a second term of two years in Boston because he believes the West affords the best theatre for the development of his educational theories.

To the question, “What will he do with the Cook County Normal School?” the best answer  may be found in a brief exposition of his views on the subject of what constitutes the most efficient instruction. We find these views in an address lately delivered by him before the Lancaster County (Penn.) Teachers’ Institute.

Col. Parker’s reverence for antiquity has this extent, no more. He says: “There is a true conservatism which takes what the past has created and on it builds the future — it is a false and spurious conservatism that holds fast to whatever is old because it is old, and consequently fails to grow.” “The normal school plan,” he says, “is a progressive step in that by it the State recognizes a science of teaching.” He shows, however, that the normal school has been very inefficient, owing to the fact that the pupils generally come from the common schools with poor academic qualifications, thus necessitating much attention to the common branches to the almost entire exclusion of scientific training. In this way it falls out that “the pupil is not much more than prepared to receive the philosophy of education when he leaves the normal school to become a teacher.”

Col. Parker shows that the development of the science of teaching must necessarily be very slow, by the following remark: “Why? Because when an Edison or a Howe, by years of study, has perfected a mechanical invention, it is at once ready for everybody’s use. But with teaching it is different. The science must be discovered by each individual teacher who is to apply it, so that instead of one Howe or Edison we must have a host of great inventors.” When we reflect that there are about 300,000 teachers in the United States we may almost despair of science in education. But Col. Parker does not despair.

Now for some of Col. Parker’s illustrations of the defective character of the old methods of teaching. He starts with the fundamental proposition of Comenius:

“Things that have to be done should be learned by doing them.” In the mechanical world the principle is applied. We do not keep an apprentice studying the theory of shoe-making for the whole term and then send him out to make shoes — he learns to do things by doing them; but how is it in the schools? Why, we have been for 40 years inventing ways to have children learn to do one thing by doing something else. *  *  *

In teaching arithmetic we teach not the science of numbers,  but figures. I have given to pupils who have been nine years in school this example: ‘I have a cord of wood, sticks four feet long, to be cut into three lengths for a stove, for which I pay $2: if I want another cord cut into four lengths how much proportionately should I pay? And they with edifying unanimity answered $$2 66 2/8 — which is wrong, of course. If I pay $2 for two cuts, three cuts are worth $3, but the children didn’t think — they used figures.”

Of grammar he says: “Some man, unfortunately, tried to make an English grammar on the Latin plan, and ever since they have been making it more and more complicated, and we have gone on teaching English grammar, and pretend to teach the child to speak and write the English language correctly. We all know how it does it. Here again directors are paying millions to teach children to do one thing by doing something else. What shall we do about it? Why, apply our principle; let the children learn to talk by talking, and to write by writing, and to compose by composing — that is all. *  *  *

The outcome of your artificial methods is a class of young people who are beneath, not above, manual labor, and are chiefly anxious to find places where there is not much work. *  *  *  We have all seen the young man come from college clothed in all the panoply of words, and at the first spear-thrust of reality the armor falls away and leaves him naked before the world.”

Col. Parker is a disciple of Pestalozzi, who discovered that “things much come before words — thoughts must come from live things.” He applies this principle to geography: “How are these principles recognized by the text-books? We open a geography, and in the very first sentence we find a definition — a generalization, and so it goes on pages at a time. The child learns all this — learns the words, and works his jaws in repeating them, and they mean nothing whatever to him. Happily, Providence has ordained that he may forget them easily.” To illustrate this point, Col. Parker tells a story of his own experience. He says: “I went into school one day and put the question: ‘Children, did you ever see a peninsula?’ No, they have never seen one — seemed to think it unreasonable to ask them, as if one ought to be about 100 years old to see such a wonderful sight — and yet four-fifths of them were born on the beautiful peninsula on which the school-house stood.”

Another principle of the new method is that “The mind grows by its own activity, and in no other way.” On this point he says: “The best expression of mental activity is when the child says, ‘Don’t do that for me — let me do it.’ The more we pour in the weaker they become. What we want is to develop power; yet we do their work while they sit helpless. Would you train an athlete by lifting all his burdens for him and then send him forth to wind the race? Why do the same thing for the child’s mind?”

Attention is called to the fact: “We ride in the cars and have the electric light before our doors; we are progressive in that line of applied science, but we fail to perceive that the science of teaching applied would produce commensurate results.” He proceeds: “The things of which we are most ignorant, as regards the teaching in our schools, are the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear — in short, that which touches us most closely on every side. The true teacher, the one who is trying to learn to teach, uses these things; and so the thought of God in nature becomes the thought of the child — and the revelation of God in nature works out through the child a true civilization.”

The New York Times – Jul 5, 1883

“Study Problems Solved” appears to have been a series that ran in various papers in 1919.

A Good Way to Review

Francis W. Parker School

I had just seen an Indian woman make a splint basket. I was afraid I should forget the process, and I wanted to tell my friends the story. So I said to myself, “What are the important things to remember? Used black ash logs. Pounded log to loosen layers. Wove like a kindergarten mat. I don’t need to remember how long the logs were or how big around or several other things. How shall I make sure that I shall remember?”

I made a collection to show my friends. I got a leaf of black ash and pressed it. I went back and took photographs of the weaver at work. I got a sample of the splints and made a drawing of a cross-section of the log showing the layers of growth. I wove a paper mat to illustrate the method of weaving. I wrote a little story about the work. It will be a long time before I forget how a black ash basket is made, for in making my collection, I had memorized the facts.

A like plan, I believe, will help you some day when your teacher says, “Review this subject.” Think over what you have read and heard in class and pick out the most important points. Never mind about the others. You won’t need them and to try to keep them in your mind would be to crowd out more important points. And then don’t merely go over these facts like a parrot, but do something with them. If you are reviewing history put the important facts together into a story. Make a chart of the dates.

If your subject is geography draw a map of the section you are reviewing and put on it the points you want to remember. Play you are giving a steriopticon lecture on the subject and get your brother or sister to listen. Make a sketch or chart that will show the whole subject in a nutshell.

While you are doing these things, the old facts will be fixing themselves in your mind, and, besides, you will be making something new and interesting to show the class.

Sandusky Star Journal (Sandusky, Ohio) Jan 5, 1919

Title: A Textbook in the History of Modern Elementary Education: With Emphasis on School Practice in Relation to Social Conditions
Author: Samuel Chester Parker
Publisher: Ginn and Company, 1912

NOTE: Samuel Chester Parker does not appear to have been related to Francis W. Parker. Link to a JSTOR biography.


Main points of the chapter. —
1. Froebel (1782-1852) directly influenced by Pestalozzi, conducted experimental schools in Germany from 1816 to 1852. In this way, beginning 1837, he became the founder of the kindergarten.
10. Colonel F.W. Parker and Professor John Dewey have been most influential in applying principles similar to Froebel’s to the work of the elementary school. They have both emphasized (a) artistic and industrial activities as important forms of expression; (b) training in thought through expression, and training in expression through thought; (c) the importance of the real audience-situation as fundamental for training in expression.

Chapter starts on page 431. Most of the parts concerning Francis W. Parker start about page 470. Chapter ends on page 486.