Monday, March 14, 2011

Education Leaders Unmasked: Elwood Cubberley part 1

Ellwood Cubberley (1868-1941) was a superintendent, professor at Stanford and Columbia, an author, editor, educator, “pioneer” in the educational administration field, and a man who saw education as an instrument of social engineering. Wikipedia states, “Some academicians have used Cubberley's methodology as a cautionary tale and termed his approach anachronistic and evangelistic, and some of his administration stances have been attacked as sexist and autocratic.” And I’d have to agree.

Here’s why… in his book, Changing Conceptions of Education in America he wrote, "southern and eastern Europeans have served to dilute tremendously our national stock, and to corrupt our civil life.. . . Everywhere these people tend to settle in groups or settlements, and to set up here their national manners, customs, and observances. Our task is to break up these groups or settlements, to assimilate and amalgamate these people as a part of our American race and to implant in their children. . . the Anglo-Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government. . ." Sounds a little racist/ethnocentric to me, as seemed to be the trend of educational “pioneers” of his time.

He saw that there was no “science” behind educational administration and a lack of training so he sought to bring both to the field of education. This seems to echo Prussian education and the progressive want to input “science” (often bogus statistics) into the practice of psychology and education.

As a student he enrolled in a course with professor David Starr Jordan, a prominent eugenicist. Cubberley was so in awe of Starr’s evolution course that he later made it a mandatory course for education students at Stanford.

In 1896, Cubberley was Superintendent of San Diego schools, where he implemented his belief that administration (that being Cubberley) should have autonomy over the school board, and that administration should not be decided by the boar but rather by administration (himself).

In 1899 he was appointed a professorship at Stanford as well as the position of the Head of the Education department. Starr gifted Cubberley a permanent position as long as he could make education respectable, or else it be abolished, of which he must have been successful because in 1917, after many years teaching, he was granted the position of the very first Dean of a new school within Stanford, the school of education.

Between 1899 and 1917, Cubberley took leave of Stanford to attend Teachers College, Columbia University to obtain an MA and PhD in school administration. While at Columbia, he found great interest in the educational tide of the time, that being the “science” behind education. In 1909 he wrote an essay, Changing Conceptions of Education in which it states many things which I will post in my next, quite lengthy, post, along with my editorial rebuttal.

Cubberley sought to shape schools in the “Teutonic” style, believing (as you will read in my next post) in racial superiority of Northern Europeans over other Europeans.

(A quick side note, Cubberley was editor of Houghton Mifflin's Riverside Textbooks in Education. (If you’ve read some of my posts I do have a bias against Houghton Mifflin, I admit to it. So having a racist man, who believed in social engineering, edit textbooks does not surprise me.) Riverside Publishing is all gugn-ho about common core standards, and the ARRA. Oh and Houghton Mifflin/Riverside was publisher of the first Stanford-Binet tests by who other than Lewis Terman, and has published any other standardized tests. Their president, Richard Swartz, was president of ETS, the company publishing most standardized exams. )
Read more:

And read my next post about Changing Conceptions of Education in America

1 comment:

  1. "If you’ve read some of my posts I do have a bias against Houghton Mifflin, I admit to it. So having a racist man, who believed in social engineering, edit textbooks does not surprise me"

    No surprise here either, textbooks are the bane of education, IMHO, mind killers. Ugh.

    Good post, BTW, looks like we've got some common interests. Gretchen at Missouri Education Watchdog suggested I come over and have a look around, glad she did.

    I'm doing some posts now on how our system of education came to be as it has, and the current one touches on a bit of Cubberley's notions, one that sums him up well, is his,
    “Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
    , which he of course saw as a good thing.

    I first came across him a several years ago at, reading his history of education; at first enjoying it, but then slowly realizing how pleasantly he'd make the most horrifying of comments. I think that was my first real introduction to the Proregressives ideas... shudder.

    "So I hope to be a voice of reason in our clouted tyranny of education."

    That's a worthy goal, and so good to see coming from the inside, keep at it!