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William Heard Kilpatrick: Master Teacher

by Ernest O. Melby - 1952

A talk introducing William H. Kilpatrick at his eightieth birthday celebration at the Hotel Commodore in New York City on November 17, 1951.

Tonight we assemble in the first instance to honor one of America's greatest teachers, Dr. William Heard Kilpatrick. But our coming together has an even broader significance. We are meeting at a time when freedom is at­tacked both at home and abroad. Abroad, aggressive totalitarian Com­munism threatens to engulf the oppressed masses of the world. At home, infringe­ments on our civil liberties and attacks on our free public education are hazards to the effective survival of our freedom and to the system of public education which this freedom has nurtured. As we extend our good wishes to Dr. Kilpatrick, we also take new faith and courage for the task of developing and perpetuating the values for which Dr. Kilpatrick has labored so successfully during his long and distinguished career. It is the hope of those who have arranged for this gathering that through it we will re-dedicate ourselves to the challenge of giving a larger meaning to our freedom and greater strength to the kind of edu­cation with which Dr. Kilpatrick's name is associated throughout the world.


Not many men can so live that all of humanity will have happier and better lives as a result of their living. Dr. Kil­patrick has, indeed, lived such a life. There is probably no child in America whose educational experience has not been altered in desirable directions as a result of his teachings. Even those teach­ers who refuse to accept his philosophy in theory have in spite of their philosoph­ical opposition altered their behavior in relation to children. By and large, Amer­ican children are treated with more con­sideration, more kindliness, and more understanding than would have been the case had it not been for Dr. Kilpatrick's work. Probably no school in America remains unaffected by his philosophy.


But it is not only through his teach­ing that Dr. Kilpatrick has exerted his striking influence. His life as a citizen in the community, as a leader in many voluntary organizations, and above all his exemplification of his outlook in his own life—all have furthered the values for which he stands. His life has been domi­nated by the idea of the sacredness of all human beings regardless of race, creed, or color. He has exemplified the method of intelligence as applied to hu­man affairs. He has helped teachers and civic leaders to see the power of faith in all men in human relations. In his total life he has accepted the principle of human brotherhood and made it basic to all that he has done. It can, indeed, be said that he took his own admonition seriously, when he repeatedly told us that we learn what we live and we live what we learn. By living his own outlook on life Dr. Kilpatrick became more than a skillful or even ingenious teacher. He be­came a great teacher with a vast following and world-wide influence. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you William Heard Kil­patrick, master teacher of our generation.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 53 Number 5, 1952, p. 263-263
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 5012, Date Accessed: 10/26/2021 5:31:19 PM

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