Thursday, March 24, 2011

Social Efficiency Part IV

Here are some excerpts and my two cents regarding " Social Efficiency Reexamined: The Dewey-Snedden Controversy" by Walter H. Drost

“W. W. Charters and Franklin Bobbitt both

sought to discover just what those skills [social efficiency] were so that the curriculum

might convey them most efficiently; they too were advocates of social

efficiency. But David Snedden carried the principle further. Snedden,

who spent much of his influential career first as Massachusetts's Commissioner

of Education and then as a professor of educational sociology at

Teachers College, Columbia University, urged that the schools project

the probable social and occupational destination of each student and prescribe a curriculum to fit him efficiently to his place. Among the

various adherents of schooling for social efficiency, Snedden was the most

prolific writer.”

As we keep encountering, social efficiency sought to prepare students for their place in society- nothing more. What is disconcerting is that Snedden among others, was in an influential place in regards to education’s history and making. He was not just some “nut case” but a bonafide educational leader just like Cubberley, Terman etc. His teaching at Columbia’s Teacher College certainly was tainted by his perspectives, which affected the practices of the best and brightest teachers. His ideas had to affect his policies as the Commisioner of Education…as stated below;

“In an attempt to overcome the rift between the vocational schools and the schools of general education, a new consolidated Board of Education was created. The new

state board brought in a young adjunct professor of educational administration

from Columbia University, David Snedden, as its first Commissioner

of Education .Most of all he was impressed by the new science

of sociology which promised through manipulation and control to improve

human lives, particularly those of the poor.”

Call me crazy, but as an empathetic person, manipulating and controlling the poor is simply wrong and makes we quite livid. End of story.

“It was there, in the classroom of Professor Edward A. Ross, that Snedden first

encountered the doctrines of social control. [Edward Ross was a eugenicist]

At the Stanford graduation of1900-in his first major address, entitled "Education for the Rank and File"-Snedden urged that the common man be educated for a life of

practical efficiency through an entirely different program of courses from

that of the elite. He urged that training in the trades and business was a

legitimate function of public education and necessary for the broad efficiency

of the individual. Social control, he argued, should replace individual

choice and prevent the "immense wastage" resulting from individual

trial and error.

Again, I am rendered nearly speechless…the audacity! Snedden promotes tracking and the Prussian idea of a school for the masses and a separate one for the elite. If these ideas infiltrated his teaching which they may have, then countless students of his, soon to enter the workforce, perpetuated his ideas like little drones, creating a system of haves and have nots, set-up for an achievement gap. And to say social control should replace individual choice, how un-American, an educator should not promote such despotism.

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