Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements

William C. Bagley and the Founding of Essentialism: An Untold Story in American Educational History


by J. Wesley Null — 2007

Background/Context:

Most people who study the history and philosophy of education have heard of essentialism, but few people know the story behind how, when, and why the movement came to exist. This paper tells this story for the first time.

Purpose/Conclusions:

This essay has three purposes. First, it provides an introduction to the life and career of William Chandler Bagley, a prominent professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, from 1917 until his retirement in 1939. Following an introduction to Bagley’s life, this work describes the founding of essentialism by drawing upon numerous primary and secondary sources to place this movement within the social and historical context in which it developed. The author pays careful attention to the story of how and why the founding of essentialism took place on the same day that John Dewey delivered his “Experience and Education” lecture at the 12th biennial convocation of Kappa Delta Pi. The paper then argues that what came to be known as essentialism represents a forgotten tradition in American educational history, one that is much richer than contemporary calls for “standards and accountability,” which grew out of the economically driven “A Nation at Risk” report of 1983. To conclude, the essay calls for more substantive attention to liberal education, purpose, moral philosophy, and curriculum for teaching teachers, all of which were at the heart of essentialist educational thought, but are now forgotten in an age obsessed with economic efficiency. The author calls upon contemporary leaders in American education to reconsider essentialism as a powerful philosophy that has great potential for the future of the teaching profession.

Research Design:

This paper is written from the perspective of history and is based upon the long-established methodology from the field of historiography.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase William C. Bagley and the Founding of Essentialism: An Untold Story in American Educational History
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 4, 2007, p. 1013-1055
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12868, Date Accessed: 8/20/2017 4:09:17 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • J. Wesley Null
    Baylor University
    E-mail Author
    J. WESLEY NULL is a teacher educator, historian of education, and Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Honors College at Baylor University. At Baylor, he teaches curriculum theory and foundations of education. He also teaches teacher education courses each semester at Waco High School. He is the author of A Disciplined Progressive Educator: The Life and Career of William Chandler Bagley (Peter Lang, 2003) and co-editor (with Diane Ravitch) of Forgotten Heroes of American Education: The Great Tradition of Teaching Teachers (IAP, 2006).
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS