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A Century of Margaret Mead


by Ray McDermott 2001

Born in 1901, influential by 1928, engaged by public issues for the next fifty years, and a continuing focus of admiration and complaint since her death in 1978, Margaret Mead is a display board for the twentieth century. This paper analyzes Mead's contributions and contradictions in her ethnographies and in her work on learning. Her first published papers critiqued intelligence tests for Italian children in the U.S., and she insisted always that the children of the world could learn a startling range of skills without suffering the pains of contemporary schooling. Mead had little good to say about American education, but she liked to think that we could get it right, and that school could turn out to be a sturdy foundation for trying on American culture.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 103 Number 5, 2001, p. 843-867
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10783, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 4:10:33 AM

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About the Author
  • Ray McDermott
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    Dr. McDermott takes a broad interest in the analysis of human communication, the organization of school success and failure, and the history and use of various literacies around the world. His work includes studies of inner-city public schools, after-school computer clubs, middle-school mathematics reform classrooms, and the function of information technologies in different cultures.
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