The Smithsonian Institution's educational mandate has served as the basis for the Institution's growth and development from its inception. This continuing process has led to the development of a center of learning with educational concerns and accomplishments that are broader than those usually connoted by the term "museum."
A textbook author's defense of his American history text
It is the authors perception that the concern with theory research has faltered. In the past, he has offered three or four standard answers to that question: 1. The concern for theory based research became a movement and ran out of steam; 2. The nature of the research professorship in educational administration; 3. The nature of the research professor in educational administration; 4. The encounter of the movement with the 1960s.
It is the opinion of this author that much of the active interest and progress in evaluation in the last seven years was generated, either directly or indirectly, by the seemingly simplistic Congressional evaluation requirements of Title I. Hopefully, the progress of Title I federal program evaluation and development of an evaluation profession will continue to proceed on a mutually supportive basis.
The case for free will, with references to Skinner and Sartre.
The author suggests a rereading of educational articles written by progressive'' reformers in the 1920's and 30's, to profit from earlier experiences.
With the decline of public confidence in our schools has come a plethora of devastating critiques. Serious discussion of alternatives such as voucher plans, free schools, and de-schooling has grown enormously. A decade of promise in which billions of dollars were expended for education has born limited fruit for Americans. Too many schools have failed, not only to assist children in their learning of basic skills, but also to provide a vision of a humane and sensitive life.
The author contends that the bland, insipid content of first-grade readers not only complicates the process of "learning to read," but may, in fact, later contribute to an adolescent's anxiety.
Although National Assessment is now well under way, seemingly all opposition has melted, and the bandwagon effect of getting "on board" is evident, it may, nonetheless, still be appropriate for the uncommitted to consider the contributions this project may make to educational evaluation and its shortcomings.
The National Committee for Support of the Public Schools is a committee of citizens concerned enough about public education to work for its support in communities throughout the United States. The Fourth Annual Conference of the NCSPS, held in April 1966, assembled a number of representative speakers to discuss the theme, "Education and So¬cial Change." We have selected for presentation here some of the discussion which took place during the two day meeting, especially at the session on "Teaching in America" and the one dealing with "The Problem of National Standards."
In the present study the criterion of adaptability is applied to class size for the first time. An answer is sought to the following question: As conditions and needs change, can teachers of small classes adapt teaching procedures to meet new needs more readily than can teachers of large classes?
Studies of current social and economic problems have shown the need for greater consideration of the way in which pupils are grouped in school. By a consideration of selected aspects of social and economic issues, it can be readily shown that problems of pupil grouping emerge out of current social problems. From the numerous aspects there have been selected for discussion here problems of a democratic society, of government, of industry, of human biology, and of delinquency.
A review of the literature on pupil classification from the time of Boykin's study to the present time reveals (1) a wide breach between the expressed need for reform and the actual conditions, (2) a great persistence of traditional practices, and (3) a strong tendency for old practices, with their recognized limitations, to carry on side by side with new and progressive practices. As late as 1930, when Otto made a nation-wide canvass of administrative and organizational practices in the elementary schools in small cities, there was but little evidence that pupil classification had kept pace with other changes.
The problem at issue may be expressed as follows: Has the organization of schools in the United States proceeded in the direction of more homogeneous grouping of school children for purposes of instruction, or has the opposite been the case? And, in either event, in what ways have changes in American society contributed to the educational development in question?
Important philosophical questions arise in connection with at least three points in the current considerations of grouping. These points are: (1) the scientific determination of the bases of grouping, (2) the theory of the social process underlying the practices of grouping, and (3) the beliefs about the kind of society we should have, as implied in the purposes of grouping. In fewer words, grouping becomes a problem for philosophy in the assumptions of its science, of its social psychology, and of its social program.
John Dewey's famous declaration that "school is life and not just preparation for life" has so appealed to the imaginations of educational leaders as an epitomized statement of their strivings that it has become one of the best known and most widely accepted principles of educational philosophy. With increasing realization of the ever-widening gap between formal education and the world of actual and potential experience beyond the confines of the school building, educators have sought new methods and materials to supersede traditional educational procedures.
Two questions immediately arise when one attempts to establish bases for ability grouping. The first and most fundamental is: Shall there be any grouping for learning purposes? The second is: What is the aim or purpose of ability grouping? The first question will require but little attention in this chapter. We shall assume that some form of grouping is accepted. Few of the most ardent opponents of ability grouping in the past have argued for no grouping; for the most part they have argued for heterogeneous rather than the so-called 'homogeneous' grouping.
The evaluation of any educational practice must ultimately be made in terms of some system of values. One practice cannot be compared with another except as a means of achieving a value that is explicitly stated or assumed. To answer the question implied in the heading of this chapter adequately, then, necessitates the statement of the philosophy, or the educational values, used as a basis of judgment.
In this chapter three instructional groups, the bright, the average, and the slow, will be discussed with respect to (1) their characteristic learning qualities, with particular application to methods of teaching, (2) the aims and objectives of their education, (3) teacher qualifications and training, and (4) the differentiation of curricula and subject matter.
Only a few of the fundamental books in curriculum-making discuss the subject of individual differences extensively. Franklin Bobbitt pointed out that recognition of individual differences was fundamental in curriculum-making. The limited abilities of the backward have to be determined and a low standard of achievement in these limited abilities has to be required. The activities of the several ability groups must differ and they must be set forth in separate curricula. Contrary to the usual practice, Bobbitt suggested that we must begin with the curriculum for the most advanced group; for the average group we must limit and modify the experiences of the gifted group; and for the subaverage group, the curriculum of the average group must be reduced and modified.
Until recently junior and senior high schools made no distinction between the terms 'homogeneous' groupings and 'ability' groupings. They were used to mean any type of classification of students for the promotion of better learning in traditional subjects. Within the past three years a differentiated meaning between these terms has become current. ' Homogeneous grouping ' is now being used to refer more to the grouping of pupils according to their interests, purposes, needs, or objectives, whereas ' ability grouping ' refers more to the placement of pupils in sections in required subjects for the purpose of promoting better teaching.
Consciously or unconsciously the conduct of an educational enterprise is guided by the active philosophy of the administrator. When pupils are associated into learning groups, the bases for determining and administering the groups are fixed by the major purposes of the grouping. If it is true that in practice the chief purpose of ability grouping has been to eliminate individual differences and have all pupils within given segregated groups learn a common body of subject matter uniformly well, then ability grouping is indeed discredited. Even if the efforts to arrive at such an end were futile, the attainment of the much more important objectives of self-direction, flexibility of behavior, and integration of personality would be seriously impaired.
The practical secondary-school administrator faces the problem of grouping for effective pupil development in situations at once real and specific. He need not be told that in a program of universal secondary education the tutorial method has only minor applications; that he cannot provide a Rousseau for each Emile; that in the main, individual learning must take place in a group setting; that, even if the group setting were not necessary, it would still be desirable.
Billett presented a clear picture of ability grouping in the high schools of the United States in 1932. The pictures presented in this chapter supplement or add to his story and bring it down to date, particularly from the standpoint of the elementary school.
The Detroit experiment in individualization was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of several different instructional organizations that varied in the degree and type of their adjustment to individual differences.
There have already been several critical reviews of the literature on ability grouping that have evaluated results. Those by Turney, Rankin, and Billett are very comprehensive. A searching analysis and critical review has also been made by Wyndham. A general review of results would therefore be a duplication of what has already been done. The purpose of this section is rather to attempt to discover the reasons for, or the conditions under which, conflicting results have been obtained.
This summary of the contributions of this Yearbook should be read in the light of the conditions under which the Yearbook was prepared. The Committee had about six months to prepare the manuscript. It recognized that the experimental literature had yielded no conclusions that were universally accepted. Lack of time obviously precluded the planning and carrying on of further experimental work. The alternative plan followed was that of evaluating pupil grouping from various points of view; in other words, the Committee sought to take the problem of pupil grouping out of any one field and to look at it from all pertinent angles. This procedure naturally led to several difficulties. A statement of some of these difficulties is thus an essential part of this summary.
This introduction to the symposium on the project method held at Teachers College on March 18 and 19, 1921, reviews the four major types of projects.
A discussion of three dangers of relying on the project method: reducing the revival value and transfer value of what is learned, an exclusive emphasis on the instrumental values of knowledge, and a de-emphasis of non-purposive learning.