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The Arm of the School Which Extends into the Home: The Visiting Teacher Movement, 1906 to 1940


by Anne Meis Knupfer — 1999

This article traces the development of the visiting teacher movement, from 1906 to 1940, with particular attention paid to the disjuncture between professional discourse and actual practices. Three main points are argued. First, early visiting teacher work drew from multiple sources, including social settlements, juvenile courts, private phi-lanthropies, and women’s clubs. The discussion of the origins of visiting teachers in multiple urban settings attested to the diversity of their work in communities and in schools. Second, most visiting teachers?work remained essentially unchanged, despite their later participation in child guidance clinics. Even though visiting teachers worked in conjunction with psychiatrists and psychologists, their practices still relied upon tra-ditional approaches used in the first part of the century. Third, the medical and psychi-atric discourses surrounding visiting teacher work in the 1920s and 1930s assumed a powerful life of its own. In a most curious manner, these languages formed a critique of teachers?social relations with students and of their classroom practices generally. Subse-quently, many teacher education programs initiated mental hygiene and psychology courses for their student teachers. The article concludes with lessons educators and pol-icy makers might take from the visiting teacher movement, especially those related to the current school-linked social services model.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 100 Number 3, 1999, p. 627-655
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10325, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 11:28:35 AM

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About the Author
  • Anne Meis Knupfer
    Purdue University
    E-mail Author
    Anne Meis Knupfer is assistant professor in Educational Studies at Purdue University. She is author of Toward a Tendered Humanity and A Nobler Womanhood: African American Women’s Clubs in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago (New York University Press, 1996) and is currently completing a book on delinquent girls in early twentieth-century Chicago.
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