Friday, February 18, 2011

a founder of current education, revered by many feared by me

William Torrey Harris quotes

(Washington DC Commissioner of Education, one of “Committee of Ten” (see below at end), helped found the first public kindergarten (with help from Susan Blow), as he was then superintendent of St Louis public schools. )

Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role.
– William T. Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889

"Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual."

"The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places ... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world."

Committee of Ten by the late 1800’s, it became apparent that there was a need for educational standardization[1].

Across the nation, and within communities, there were competing academic philosophies to resolve. One philosophy favored rote memorization, whereas another favored critical thinking. Along another dimension, one philosophy considered American high schools solely as institutions that would from the start (, sometimes based on race or ethnic background,) divide students into college-bound and working-trades groups, whereas another philosophy attempted to provide standardized courses for all students. Somewhat similarly, another philosophy promoted classic Latin/Greek studies, whereas other philosophies stressed practical studies.


To resolve these issues, the National Education Association formed The 1892 Committee of Ten. Committee members were chosen from educators across the United States, primarily from colleges and universities. The committee was chaired by Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard University. Twelve years of education were recommended, with eight years of elementary education followed by four years of high school. All students would be taught, regardless of their further education plans or careers.

No comments:

Post a Comment