On (Not) Defining Education
Reflections on Historical Life and What Educates Therein
by Robbie McClintock
A paper delivered at the Lawrence A. Cremin Seminar, Teachers College, Columbia University, October 16, 2007 and posted on the web as an essay in StudyPlace, October 2007. A shortened version was published in Hervé Varenne and Edmund W. Gordon, eds., Theoretical Perspectives on Comprehensive Education: The Way Forward (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009, pp. 27-60).
Length: 34,400 words
Charles A. Beard, "The Quest for Academic Power." The Journal of Higher Education. 3.9 (1932): 464.
It is easier to ascertain the price of cotton in Alabama from 1850 to 1852 or to measure the length of frogs' legs in Ireland than to find out what education is and might be; but despite our desire to escape the problem, the issue presses itself upon us with increasing insistence. Charles A. Beard (1932)
1. A Prolegomenon
In history and education, Lawrence Cremin mentored and taught me. His persona charmed me, the reach of his ready recall awed me, his embodiment of prudent judgment joined to a demanding vision won my allegiance. Over the years, I felt humbled, a bit shamed, by his extraordinary ability to get his work done—so many books well crafted, so many students well taught, so many initiatives well directed. I came into his circle at the age of 21 with an educational purpose of my own, which closely converged with his. He helped me thread my way into academic life and promoted my prospects. During the rest of his life, and my years since his death, I have remained within his circle, content to probe its boundaries at points of special interest. But eventually, move on, one must.
Lawrence A. Cremin, "Educative Institutions," Pocket Knowledge Beta, (accessed September 5, 2007)
Throughout his career, Cremin worked to nurture and strengthen the common school and the common weal by broadening and deepening the controlling meaning of education. Historically, as nation-states have been building systems of universal education, the meaning of education for most persons has come to signify the work of those institutions, especially the work of their most universal component, the system of elementary and secondary schools. This meaning leads to a portentous reification, to overlooking the real recipient of education: education ceases to be an experience of persons, and becomes a characteristic of cohorts, statistical groups whose tested attributes augur success or failure. All of this is the rank superstition of our putatively enlightened age. Écrasez l'infâme! Cremin tried to counter the superstition by addressing the definition of education head on: "education is the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, attitudes, skills, values, or sensibilities, and any learning that results from the effort, direct or indirect, intended or unintended."
This definition was implicit in his history of progressive schooling and explicit in most of the many books that followed, three large and several small. Peers responded on both sides of the conjunction of history with education. From the side of history, they awarded him both the Bancroft and the Pulitzer, and from that of education, they appointed him to the presidencies of Teachers College and the Spencer Foundation, influential roles he fulfilled with distinction. But his ascendancy with living peers has not translated well into lasting change. On one side, his books went quickly out of print, and historians have reverted back to dealing with education overwhelmingly as the work of schools, while on another, some institutional arrangements that he put in place persist nominally, although they now serve purposes contrary to his own, and others have been dismantled, their parts strewn, languishing in uncertain use. One may rightly say that we, who followed, fumbled. But to recover, we must look wide and deep at what went wrong.
An early diagnosis has some truth, but it serves poorly as a ground for attempting to recover critical leverage on the historical problems of thinking about education as a more comprehensive experience than the part of it consisting in instruction through the schools. According to this diagnosis, Cremin rose in a fortuitous period of expansion in schools of education, which were pressing to meet teacher shortages while raising educational standards, and he tooled his powers to assert a more bracing vision on a senescent profession by converging the opportunities of expansion with those of the normal transfer of positions from elders to the young. But fortuna granted fickle favor. As he gained sufficient influence to exercise this strategy in the 1970s, the demographics of expansion became those of contraction, and the expected multiplier effect became a divider, seriously reducing his options for influence on becoming president of Teachers College in 1974. To worsen matters, intellectually to his left, as he won public attention, Samuel Bowles and Herb Gintis, Michael Katz, Joel Spring, and others fashioned a mode of revisionist criticism different from his own, asserting a negative version of the old celebration of education as universal schooling. This change in the prevailing historical interest siphoned off potential recruits who might have carried on in developing further histories informed by his very broad assumptions about the nature of the task. Such changes left Cremin caught, both within the profession and the society at large, between a prevailing culture and its counter, both locked in argument over whether the historical and social consequences of education, understood as school instruction, were positive or negative. Cremin had to carry on with neither the intention nor the substance to contribute much to that altercation. In this view, his later writings, doggedly produced, reflect the tenuousness of his position: the shorter books provided an Olympian perspective in place of a call to action, and the three tomes of American Education, ground out over a quarter century according to a fixed plan that had become a duty, not a work, stupefy readers with far too much detail.
Sol Cohen, "Lawrence A. Cremin, Lives and Transformations," in Challenging Orthodoxies: Toward a New Cultural History of Education (New York: P. Lang, 1999) pp. 273–299.
This critique, most articulately expressed by Sol Cohen, another of Cremin's students, regretfully holds Cremin's vision of education and his sense of what a historian could do with that definition, to have been a delusion of hubris. As he attempted a vain task under distracting conditions, Cremin made himself a critic of the profession with which he ought to have more narrowly identified and an author of a work beyond the scope of possibility, an approximation of which no one would really want to read. Cohen's tone towards Cremin is obnoxiously condescending, posthumously hectoring "Larry" for making life decisions that Cohen believes to have been misguided. Voiced after Cremin's death, these are immaterial, for they should have been raised in such a fashion to Cremin at a point in his life when the decisions were still open. But Cohen voices his critique of Cremin's definition of education to living readers, successfully raising for them the question whether writing educational history should proceed from a broad or narrow conception of its subject. Cohen, along with many peers contributing to the voluminous literature on educational historiography, have objected that Cremin's definition encompasses too much, leading in consequence to historical incoherence, evident in the literary muddiness of American Education, and to a productive paralysis, evident in the lugubrious pace with which Cremin completed his opus. This criticism is important for it explains on the one hand real weaknesses in Cremin's American Education while it counsels us, in its net effect, as educators and as scholars to get about the business of schooling without much attention to all that is peripheral to it. This is a counsel of renunciation and we who held a different vision need to find a more vital diagnosis, one that we can offer, as we age, to those with the strength of youth to act upon the complacencies of these times.
Cohen and and his colleagues center their critique of Cremin's work on the unfortunate effects of his definition of education, which they believe will diffuse historians' attention to an impossibly inclusive configuration of educative agencies, transforming educational history into a jabber of cultural history. Occasionally, they suggest, work written according to an all inclusive idea of education may have some topical interest, but in the end it is unilluminating, touching on everything in general and not coming to grips with anything in particular. They adduce his work itself as evidence of these dangers, suggesting that Cremin's definition led him to include far too much in American Education, three big tomes packed with mounting detail, deficient in narrative coherence and engaging tension. Presently the consensus of contemporary history and of educational historians stands with Cohen: neither puts education as Cremin defined it front and center. In the historical present, both the public and practitioners deal with education as if it is a synonym for schooling to the point, even, of calling a growing movement to educate children outside of schools "home schooling," as if one cannot imagine anything that educates without somehow equating it to schooling.
Recent examples include: James W Fraser, The School in the United States: A Documentary History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001); John L Rury, Education and Social Change: Themes in the History of American Schooling, 2nd edition, (Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2005); Jonathan Zimmerman, Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002); Jennifer L Hochschild and Nathan Scovronick, The American Dream and the Public Schools (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); David B Tyack, Seeking Common Ground: Public Schools in a Diverse Society (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003); Patricia Albjerg Graham, Schooling America: How the Public Schools Meet the Nation's Changing Needs (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); William J Reese, America's Public Schools: From the Common School to "No Child Left Behind" (Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005); and Dorothy Shipps, School Reform, Corporate Style: Chicago, 1880-2000 (Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas, 2006).
The quantity and quality of work now published in the History of Education Quarterly is a vast improvement on what the History of Education Journal published in the 1950s, yet its parent, the History of Education Society, is not allied well with either the American Historical Association or the American Educational Research Association. More than ever, activity by historians of education appears to be an isolated eddy in the current of historical action.
As for educational history, the bulk of work, and the best of works, now concentrate on the history of schooling, and while a few historians of education still hold positions of influence in schools of education, the field has not acquired a strong presence in mainstream history departments and the subject has fallen into desuetude in schools of education. There are a few topics in the history of schooling that may bear fresh treatment, but the area has long since ceased to be under worked. And these days, the royal road to educational knowledge calls for the complete depersonalization of educational experience through double-blind experiment with the resulting pedagogical prescriptions to be confirmed or questioned according to the outcomes evident through massive testing programs in which millions of pupils are merely incidental means for assessing the schools. With the lived educational experience of particular children so completely in pedagogical abeyance, let us hypothesize that far from including too much, Cremin at least included a vast panorama of real human activity, but for some reason or other, something of great importance was still missing.
2. What did Cremin leave out?
Lawrence A Cremin, "Review of Education in the Forming of American Society by Bernard Bailyn," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 47, no. 4 (March 1961): 678-679.
In 1960, the Harvard historian, Bernard Bailyn, sensitized scholars to the importance of defining education effectively in efforts to show the role of education in American history. Publication of his critique, Education in the Forming of American Society, caused a stir among educational historians. Cremin was quick to review it, very favorably, in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. He commended Bailyn's call to deal with education "as an aspect of American history writ large," not as a parochial, internal history for a self-conscious profession. He quoted Bailyn's broad understanding of education—"not only as formal pedagogy but rather as the entire process by which culture transmits itself across generations"—and he noted how it extended the educational historian's attention far beyond the development of schools and schooling. Cremin concluded with the hope that Bailyn's hypotheses would "set in motion the kind of informed historical scholarship that to date has been all too rare in the field of American education."
Lawrence A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1957 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961) p. 176.
Bailyn issued a challenge; Cremin followed through in response. In 1961, he published The Transformation of the School, a professional breakthrough for Cremin, just as Bailyn's essay was reaching its readers. In The Transformation, Cremin showed little interest in questions of how the historian should define education, but he wrote a full, masterful narrative, clearly to the norms of mainstream history, for an inclusive audience interested in progressive education as an aspect of American history. With this book Cremin demonstrated how historians could deal with education when they overcame the split between the professional schools and the historical profession, and he even managed to note, at a key juncture in his narrative, that "the unfortunate consequences of the split . . . are brilliantly discussed by Bernard Bailyn in Education in the Forming of American Society. At 36 Cremin triumphed, with a full academic career still ahead of him. The Transformation of the School won the Bancroft Prize, awarded annually to recognize "books of enduring worth and impeccable scholarship that make a major contribution to understanding the American past." As a youth from City College, rising through the ranks in a school of education, Cremin had established his scholarly reputation and showed that work in the history of education could meet the highest academic standards.
What comes next? That is the inevitable question on finishing a work and looking ahead to the rest of life. Cremin had a powerful pedagogical presence in the classroom. As a lecturer he was clear, engaging, endowed with a gift to make history meaningful to a large and diverse audience. His big course, History of Education in the United States, drew numerous auditors Monday evenings, every autumn. In 1964, opportunity arose for someone to write a work on the topic of his big course with sponsorship by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the nation's Bi-Centennial observances, which were beginning to loom in official minds. Having taught, and taught well, the full scope of the narrative many times, Cremin expected to finish the work in three volumes by 1976, a miscalculation. Thus it came about that from the mid-1960s until shortly before his death in 1990, writing a comprehensive history of American education dominated Cremin's scholarly labors. And through it, developing and illustrating a historically sound definition of education was a key component of his effort.
The Wonderful World of Ellwood Patterson Cubberley; an Essay on the Historiography of American Education (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1965) and The Genius of American Education (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1965).
To define and to illustrate: that was Cremin's agenda. Two short books laid the ground work for it: The Wonderful World of Ellwood Patterson Cubberley (1965) explained the problems of definition, and The Genius of American Education (1965) sketched the key themes illustrative of education, broadly defined, in American history. Work on the first volume of American Education proceeded quickly, resulting in its publication in 1970. In his "Preface," Cremin briefly explained the background to his formal definition of education and enunciated the initial version of it:
Lawrence Arthur Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607–1783 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), p. xiii.
Throughout the work, I shall view education as the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit or evoke knowledge, attitudes, values, skills, and sensibilities, a process that is more limited than what the anthropologist would term enculturation or the sociologist socialization, though obviously inclusive of some of the same elements. Education, defined thus, clearly produces outcomes in the lives of individuals, many of them discernible, though other phenomena, varying from politics to commerce to technology to earthquakes, may prove more influential at particular times and in particular instances.
In nearly 600 pages, the book described with a panorama of particulars the colonial educational experience delimited by this definition. Cremin detailed the cultural heritage brought to the British colonies and the educational configuration of it in household, church, school, college, and community; he then surveyed the appearance in this configuration of characteristic American qualities of denominationalism, utilitarianism, and republicanism; and finally he summed the first volume up by depicting the institutions, configurations, and characteristics of the first great era of American education, that of provincial education.
In disagreement with Sol Cohen, I do not think that Cremin's assuming the presidency of Teachers College in 1974 significantly distracted him from his scholarship. Cremin was extraordinarily gifted in managing his time and energy well and had been an active administrator throughout his career. He reserved substantial time for his scholarship before and after taking on the presidency and his scholarly output during that period of his career was substantial. If it took him longer to complete American Education than he originally thought, it was because the task was more difficult than he originally estimated. Within the Teachers College community, not a few felt that his effectiveness as president may have suffered because Cremin was so good at maintaining his primary commitment to his scholarship.
See Traditions of American Education (New York: Basic Books, 1977) especially pp. 131–163, and Public Education (New York: Basic Books, 1976) especially pp. 27–53. Cf. "Notes Toward a Theory of Education" and "Further Notes Toward a Theory of Education," which Cremin presented within the Institute for Philosophy and Politics of Education, both in Notes on Education, no. 1 (June 1973): 4–6, and no. 4 (March 1974): 1–6.
Attention by Cremin to his definition of education and to the historical elucidation of it continued apace. At the University of Wisconsin, Cremin delivered The Merle Curti Lectures for 1976, giving three concise overviews of what each volume of his large work would cover, and he added "A Note on Problematics and Sources" to the published version of the lectures. This 30-page note, combined with his Dewey Lecture for 1975, especially the second section, "Toward an Ecology of Education," constituted an important reflection on his definition of education, leading to a rewording that amplified it somewhat. As a result of these considerations, in the subsequent two volumes of American Education (1980 and 1988), Cremin added a third key verb to his definition of education—"acquire," along with the original "transmit or evoke,"—and he enlarged the summational part concluding each volume, originally comprising three chapters on "Institutions," "Configurations," and "Characteristics," to include one more, "Lives."
All together the trilogy presents a great kaleidescope of pedagogical activity with thousands of people and groups twisting over time in endlessly different configurations producing a churn of distinctive results. In three lectures at Harvard in 1989, Cremin presented as a coda to American Education the themes that stood out, in his judgment, from the whole of his survey:
Lawrence Arthur Cremin, Popular Education and Its Discontents (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), pp. vii–viii.
First, popularization, the tendency to make education widely available in forms that are increasingly accessible to diverse peoples; second, multitudinousness, the proliferation and multiplication of institutions to provide that wide availability and that increasing accessibility; and third, politicization, the effort to solve certain social problems indirectly through education instead of directly through politics.
Almost as if he knew they would be his final words, these lectures, published as Popular Education, convey the implications of his life work for the practice of education. Here he made the case for the value of defining education the way he did: first, it allowed educators to situate schooling in a more realistic pedagogical context; second, it enabled public leaders to appreciate the full scope of concerns that needed to be brought within the purview of educational policy; and lastly, it indicated the scholarly imperative to inform the pervasive, public urge to politicize educational issues with more knowledge, sound and comprehensive, about the human implications of educational action in all its forms. These are big implications to a work fully achieved.
To those of us who knew the man, it has been astonishing how quickly after his death his work has lost influence. Its burden continues to become all the more timely as schools operate as if in a pedagogical vacuum. Cremin argued against the stupidity of concentrating public attention exclusively on formal educators while paying little attention to informal educators, despite their growing educational influence. Yet the makers of public policy now bear more imperiously on formal educators, while they blithely ignore the educational role of informal educators as the custodians and owners of these, uncaring and indiscriminate, pursue more and more power and wealth. Cremin argued that education was something happening pervasively in the lived experience of each and every person. Yet the establishment of educational researchers swells steadily with scholars pretending, ever more exclusively, to achieve universal findings valid for all, independent of time, place, and condition. Something is missing to weaken the effects of very timely work.
Michael B. Katz criticized the effects of this peculiar chronology in his judicious contribution to the "Forum" on the third volume of American Education in the History of Education Quarterly (Vol. 29, No. 3, Fall 1989), pp. 426–431. In addition, Katz usefully calls attention to Cremin's reluctance to engage in analytic explanation.
For instance, a not uncommon instance, the longish paragraph beginning on page 217 and ending on 219 of the third volume of American Education mentions 32 different individuals or groups, not counting the names of cities, states, and four publications. Proper names comprise over 20% of the words in the paragraph and over four times the number of verbs or verb constructions such as gerunds.
For those of us who knew the man, Cremin's personal presence was so prepossessing that we projected it into our reading of his work, which would otherwise appear flat and hard to follow. In comparison to The Transformation of the School, Cremin's trilogy lacked narrative flow, especially within each volume. Historical exposition gains vigor from a strong sense of chronological direction but the text of each volume unfortunately cycled repetitively through its chronology, undercutting the overall sense of coherent movement through time. Cremin would recount how each component of key educational configurations developed through the whole period in question and then he would flip back to the beginning again, explaining the development of the next component, and the next: it was exhaustive, but too exhausting for many readers. Additionally, as his narrative cycled forwards and backwards in time, Cremin further burdened his readers by confronting them with a profusion of proper names, strings of organizations and individuals, with the role each played just briefly mentioned. So showered with detail, a reader will easily loose the point, and many in his audience have undoubtedly put his work aside, partially read at best. But these stylistic matters simply indicate that American Education is difficult work—many difficult works exert a powerful and lasting influence on an interested public. Something more problematic than complexities of detail and chronology may have detracted from the power of Cremin's major work to win, hold, and shape a following of active influence.
Consider the key terms in Cremin's definition of education: "deliberate," "systematic," "sustained," "transmit," "evoke," "acquire," "knowledge," "values," "attitudes," "skills," "sensibilities," "learning," "effort," "direct," "indirect," "intended," and "unintended." None of these are univocal. Whether, when, where, how, and why an interpreter might apply each of these terms to characterize a specific human action requires the interpreter to make a nuanced judgment, about which different interpreters might undoubtedly disagree. To become operative, Cremin's definition required complex criteria controlling its application to historical experience. These criteria remain hidden in his work. Of course, a scholar cannot make explicit in the formal statement of a carefully crafted definition all the criteria of judgment that he might use in applying it. But surely, in the course of its voluminous use, readers can expect that those criteria will become increasingly clear to them. Yet with Cremin's work they do not.
See, for instance, American Education, vol. 1, pp. 315–7, and vol. 3, pp. 2–6.
Some 2,000 pages, rich in detail, convey little sense of Cremin's deliberations as he applied his definition within his vast scope of awareness. He describes much; he explains little. Why, given all the inclusions, did he exclude some things? We do not learn, for instance, how something, which he might have excluded because it was deliberate and sustained but not systematic (social criticism?), or because it was systematic and sustained but not deliberate (technological innovation?), differed in his view from something like the influence of mass media, which he seems to have held to have been sufficiently deliberate, systematic, and sustained to merit extended treatment as an important twentieth-century educative agent. Cremin chose to minimize notes that might have illuminated such judgments, and his bibliographies, mentioning nearly everything that he possibly could mention as remotely relevant to anything he included, discussed little of the literature in depth and does not illuminate the why and the wherefore of his judgments at all. Cremin worked to inventory a diverse pantheon of educators, not to explain the distinctive particularities of how they functioned. Thus, radically different efforts to evoke distinctive sensibilities appeared through his descriptions as if they were remarkably similar: for instance, Jonathan Edwards, in a seventeenth-century religious context, and Harvey Cox, in the twentieth, both step forth, bright young men getting a good education, then acquiring some experience, and then succeeding by speaking with conviction and insight to the needs of their parishioners. In both cases, and in many others, Cremin gave readers an epitome of the messages delivered, glossing over the difficult, jarring particulars of each with a reassuring "of course" or "inevitably," but little hard analysis of just how and why each message worked in its unique way to educate those who responded to it.
Cremin pointed to a multitude of educational instances that fell within his definition of education, describing briefly what each did, but not explaining how each did what it did. He was remarkably disengaged with respect to prominent efforts to explicate in depth a "deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, attitudes, skills, values, or sensibilities, and any learning that results from the effort, direct or indirect, intended or unintended." For instance, in the first volume of American Education, Cremin mentioned Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in describing Benjamin Franklin's life and character, but neither Cremin's text nor the associated bibliographical references recognize that an informed reader might see Weber's reflection as a remarkably full attempt to analyze how education, understood in a fashion similar to Cremin's definition, actually might work out, in the inner life of several generations of recipients, in historical consequences remarkably different from those who did the educating originally intended. Cremin acknowledged a severely watered-down version of Weber's argument and merely noted that it had caused considerable controversy among scholars, neither taking nor explaining a position of his own about it. Here is Cremin's discussion of Weber's reflection:
American Education, I:411.
Whether Franklin's education was ultimately the source or the outcome of his enterprise must always remain problematical: at the least they were inextricably intertwined. He may well have been, as Max Weber and others have portrayed him, the living embodiment of a secularized Puritanism, demonstrating in his life the explosive power of calling, though one can, of course find Catholics who were no less vigorous in their enterprise and Congregationalists who seemed called to nothing but lassitude. However one resolves the time-honored controversy—and the interplay of men and traditions in the eighteenth century would seem to make any final resolution improbable—there can be no denying that a spirit of aggressive enterprise was widely manifest in provincial America and that it supported and was in turn strengthened by a variety of educational arrangements, both formal and informal. In the process, men rose from rags to riches.
Weber wanted to explain a profound pedagogical irony: how could a culture of deep religious conviction, strongly averse to material pretense, engaging vigorously in the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit and evoke profound angst over the prospect of eternal damnation, produce in the span of several generations such leading examples of a spirit of aggressive enterprise, like Franklin, raising men from rags to riches? Such explanation does not seem to have been an important goal for Cremin.
See Cremin, American Education, III: 196-7, 201, and 673. Cf. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, , 1996, Introduction (pp. lxxvii–xci), Part 1 (pp. 3-80), Chapter 45 (pp. 997–1024), and Appendix 3 (pp. 1065–1070).
Gunnar Myrdal's extensive analysis of An American Dilemma provides another prominent example of Cremin's reluctance to engage in the causal analysis of educational processes as he identified them. Cremin mentioned Myrdal's extensive work in introducing the educational activities of the NAACP in his third volume and returned to it in summing up the characteristics of metropolitan education at the end of the volume. Cremin accentuated Myrdal's recognition of national idealism, the "American creed," an amalgam of values derived from the Enlightenment, with roots in Christianity and English law, that Americans shared with many other peoples, while identifying with it more strongly and more vocally than others. Myrdal perceived this creed "of progress, liberty, equality, and humanitarianism" to function as a real social force in American public life, the point with which Cremin most fully resonated. For Myrdal this creed interacted in a complex reciprocal tension with baser motivations, no less real, "where personal and local interests; economic, social, and sexual jealousies; considerations of community prestige and conformity; group prejudice against particular persons or types of people; and all sorts of miscellanous wants, impulses, and habits dominate outlook." For Myrdal, these two sides of the American character were interacting according to what Myrdal called "the principle of cumulation." In it, all sorts of different developments, potentially positive and potentially negative, would interact in patterns of reinforcement in which the cycle could persist, with the adverse status of African-Americans unchanged, or degenerate into a vicious circle of further degradation, or ascend in a virtuous circle of achieved equality and integration. For Myrdal, the dynamic operated, embedded in American historical life, its outcome contingent on political choice and public effort. Cremin acknowledged the tension, but de-emphasized the degree to which Myrdal held the outcome to be contingent on sound social engineering informed by a thorough analysis of the many different causal factors at work. By leaving out a key qualification in Myrdal's text, Cremin quoted him as if the American dilemma were simply a matter of serious cultural lag, whereas Myrdal was actually asserting that the dilemma consisted in the still contingent struggle between the best and the worst in American character, which the American people had to resolve, overcoming deep-seated weaknesses pervasively embedded in all the structures of American life and character. That was the moral urgency motivating the full and many-sided causal analysis that Myrdal's work comprised, an anxious urgency that Cremin's optimism too easily obscured.
Characteristically, in American Education Cremin described, but did not explain. He depicted numerous educators acting in complex configurations occasioning a complexity of results. He rarely sought to explain their actions or deeply interpret their meaning. At the end of Traditions of American Education, Cremin concluded his "Note on Problematics and Sources," declaring the importance of "a clear, consistent, and precise theory of education." This declaration merits close attention. Alluding to the authority of the philosopher, John Herman Randall, Cremin observed that "any history is always the history of something in particular, and the explanatory categories the historian uses in writing about that something in particular are almost invariably drawn from other domains—from politics or philosophy or economics, or from ordinary common sense." Cremin then, perhaps unwittingly, declared that the source of truth and meaning in any account of historical experience would derive from sources external to the historical, lived experiences that people suffer and enjoy.
As soon as the historian attempts to go beyond mere chronicle, as soon as he seeks not only to arrange events in the order in which they occurred, as soon as he tries to view events in their multifarious relations, he must perforce reach beyond the events themselves to some set of laws, principles, or generalizations that will help make sense of them. And those laws, principles, or generalizations almost always come from outside the discipline of history.
He then closed the paragraph, noting something parenthetically about John Dewey and then ended both the discussion and the book with a short paragraph, indicating that his position was only "one set of possibilities among many." (p. 163) Subsequent to this in later writings, Cremin merely alluded once to this passage, without expanding it or indicating what he derived in particular from any of the sources he had there acknowledged (see History of Education Quarterly (Vo. 29, No. 3, Autumn 1989, p. 436). Throughout all of his work, Cremin discussed Dewey repeatedly and at length, although not significantly as an influence on his own ideas. Nowhere in his corpus of writings, other than the quoted passage, did Cremin mention Benedict, Linton, Murphy, Parsons, Merton, Bentley, or Truman. His specific mentions of George Herbert Mead were confined to a couple passing observations in Metropolitan Education and he twice mentions Allport, once in the bibliography of Metropolitan Education, citing a 1935 book Allport co-authored on the effects of radio broadcasting, and once in Public Education (pp. 38–9), where Cremin did give through his reference to Allport's work on life histories in anthropology some actual insight into his own ideas about educational life histories. Overall Cremin communicated a take-it or leave-it attitude to other scholars, evident in his unwillingness to discuss the grounds for his theoretical and historical judgments. The absence of such discussion deprived Cremin's work of one its greatest potential sources of interest for serious readers.
Here is a basic problem in the philosophy of history. Is the meaning of lived experience something immanent in the experience that the interpreter has to draw out of it, making explicit what is immanent? Or is the meaning something external to the historical experience that the historian finds elsewhere and applies to it? In general, Cremin was very reticent about such questions, but here he seemed to adopt the second view, for he again invoked the authority of Randall and averred: "apart from some intelligent conception of education itself, there can be no truly intelligent conception of the history of education." This conviction puts a significant constraint on what is possible in the history of education, namely the correct and fruitful understanding of education cannot emerge from the study of historical experience, but must be brought to the historical experience from other sources of formal knowledge. In this view, the history of education will illustrate an understanding of education generated through modes of reflection and inquiry other than the historical. Cremin went out of his way to avoid debating both alternative explanations pertinent to events he interpreted and his reasoning for and against the many judgments that went into his work. Was this avoidance sound? Does historical scholarship secure its proper place in the study of education by deriving ideas about education from other sources and applying them to past educational experience? These questions are important and difficult, and to pursue them, we need to turn again to the educational historiography of Bernard Bailyn, for Cremin's answers to them were not at all unique, but ones widely shared among the academic historians from whom Cremin sought to win some recognition.
3. Did Bailyn deliver?
Mid December, 1954, Clarence Faust (1901–1975), president of the Fund for the Advancement of Education hosted some American historians and educators in New York. Faust was a specialist on Jonathan Edwards and prior to coming to the Fund in 1951, he had been a successful university administrator, having served as Dean of the College at Chicago and then Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford. The Fund for the Advancement of Education really served as an arm of the Ford Foundation, and in a few years it would become Ford's Education Division, with Faust as the vice-president in charge. Through the 1950s, the Fund used substantial resources to help schools, colleges, and universities cope with shortages of teachers during the rapid post-War expansion, it led efforts to develop educational television, and it facilitated desegregation following Brown v. the Board of Education. The December meeting was a bit different, however. Faust, and O. Meredith Wilson (1910–1998), who had been secretary of the Fund and had just started as president of the University of Oregon, had invited an influential group to spend two days discussing how to strengthen scholarship on the role of education in shaping American history.
Faust drew a significant group together. Paul H. Buck (1899–1978), whose Road to Reunion, 1865–1900 had won the Pulitzer in 1937, chaired the meetings. A gifted administrator, he had been Dean of the Harvard University faculty of arts and sciences from 1942 to 1953 as well as Provost of the University from 1946 to 1953, stepping down from these posts when James B. Conant left the Harvard presidency. The group included several pillars of the American historical profession. Arthur M. Schlesinger (1888–1965) would be a key leader in the work of the group. He had established social history as an important field through a prolific and influential career as a powerful professor at Harvard and leader in the historical profession. The group included the two most prominent historians of American thought, Mere Curti (1897–1996), from Wisconsin, and Ralph H. Gabriel (1890–1987) from Yale. A few days after the meeting, Curti would deliver his presidential address on "Intellectuals and Other People" to the American Historical Association. The fourth senior historian was Edward Chase Kirkland (1894–1975), for many years a widely recognized historian at Bowdoin, who had just finished a year as president of the American Economic History Association. The curriculum theorist, Ralph W. Tyler (1902–1994) was also a senior member of the group, then just starting as the founding director of the Palo Alto Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, having previously been Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.
Richard Hofstadter, Academic Freedom in the Age of the College (New York: Columbia University Press, , 1961) and Walter P. Metzger, Academic Freedom in the Age of the University (New York: Columbia University Press, , 1961).
Four more scholars, a generation younger, yet highly accomplished, completed the group. Francis Keppel (1916–1990) had become Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1948 and had already successfully solicited substantial funds from Faust to recruit strong liberal arts graduates into the teaching profession through a reinvigorated MAT program. An up and coming instructor, whom Keppel had recruited to strengthen the history of education at Harvard, Bernard Bailyn (1922– ), also participated. Bailyn was then revising his dissertation, a highly successful one sponsored by Oscar Handlin, into his first book, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century. The other two were from Columbia, Richard Hofstadter (1916–1970) and Walter P. Metzger (1922– ). Both were already well-published, Hofstadter especially so, with Social Darwinism in American Thought, the American Political Tradition, and The Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States (co-authored with C. De Witt Hardy). At the time of the meeting, Hofstadter and Metzger were together finishing up their timely history of academic freedom in American higher education.
Paul Buck described the meeting briefly in his preface to a pamphlet the Fund published in 1957, The Role of Education in American History, which solicited proposals from American historians in response to the group's concerns and announced the availability of funding for fellowships and research grants, publication subsidies, and support of conferences and summer seminars. As Buck explained, the group spoke to their peers as leaders among academic historians and called on the profession to change the writing of American history by examining how educational processes could serve as causal factors indicating and explaining the salient characteristics of American experience. They began with a broad understanding of education, for their purpose "was to discuss the need of studying the role of education, not in its institutional forms alone, but in terms of all the influences that have helped shape the mind and character of the rising generation."
Paul H. Buck et al., "The Role of Education in American History," (New York: The Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1957) Preface, pp. 1–2.
A deficiency in the work of the history profession, not schools of education, motivated the group, which "was unanimous in its conviction that, relative to its importance in the development of American society, the history of education in this country, both in the schoolroom and outside, has been shamefully neglected by American historians." Historians paid too little attention to the effects of education in its many forms, on the main developments characterizing American history. Buck then added a further declaration, which, on stopping to consider it, stands in tension with the first and raises perplexing questions. Speaking on behalf of a group immensely sophisticated about history and about education, he stated that "it was also our firm belief that the imperfect knowledge of this history has affected adversely the planning of curricula, the formulation of policy, and the administration of education agencies in the present crisis of American education." Here was an unusual claim, namely that the failure by professional historians to account to the general public for the role of education in American experience adversely affected the quality and effects of American education.
Storr, Richard J. The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.
Buck et al., "The Role of Education. . . .", pp. 10–15.
A smaller committee, drawn from the group that Faust had convened, drafted the 1957 pamphlet with the help of a new member, Richard J. Storr (1915- ). Storr had been one of Arthur M. Schlesinger's students and had recently published his dissertation as The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America. This smaller group—Buck (chair), Faust, Hofstadter, Schlesinger, and Storr (secretary)—became the Committee on the Role of Education in American History, making decisions on the uses of monies provided by the Fund for the Advancement of Education to support work by historians on the role of education in American history. Over the next ten years, this Committee managed these funds with careful attention to the purposes they spelled out in the pamphlet. They identified eight "great movements in American history" in which they believed "the role of educational forces" had been significant. A quick look at the eight movements the Committee singled out makes their commitment to American history in its entirety clearly evident.
- The building of new communities on the frontier. The Committee wanted historians to give a fuller account of what happened "as pioneering ended and the life of the town and countryside matured."
- The transformation of the immigrant into an American. The Committee invited a thorough, deep account of the process of Americanization in its many forms. "If the American is partially a work of conscious art, we must discover how the artist whose medium is mind and character and whose tool is teaching has accomplished his purpose."
- The fulfillment of the promise of American life. The Committee perceived that "the concrete meaning of America as a land of opportunity" depended on whether educational forces effectively promoted equality or furthered existing inequalities.
- The growth of distinctively American political institutions. The Committee recognized that republicanism and democracy were historically contingent and whether they would develop and endure depended in large part on what knowledge, skills, and values Americans and their leaders acquired. Here was a pedagogical problem of historical dimension: "The nature of true democracy and of right education is subject to controversy; but the mutual dependence of the two is an article of common faith."
- The transformation of American society. The Committee noted that numerous transformations in social institutions and attitudes had occurred in American experience, none more profound than the shift from a rural, agrarian society to an urban, industrial one. Reflecting the dominance of consensus history, they asserted that "the fact that a revolution has occurred in American society without apocalyptic violence cannot be explained until the role of [educational] efforts is carefully examined."
- The utilization of the immensely rich material resources of the nation. The Committee commended the "penetrating insight" of economic historians into the extraordinary material development characteristic of American history, while adding that "we have much to learn about the development of the human resources which make the intensive use of the endowment of nature possible."
- The adjustment of the foreign policy of the United States to its growing responsibilities as a world power. The Committee reflected a realism about the all-out power conflicts between states evoked by the traumas of the twentieth century and observed that successful studies of propaganda will not suffice as a basis of national leadership "unless they are related to the use of education to produce particular responses toward other nations and to the uses of American power."
- The growth of a distinctive American culture over a vast continental area. The Committee called attention "to the relevance of education to the spread and advancement of American culture." What have been the educational foundations of American cultural achievements, helping to explain both their strengths and their limitations?
Richard Storr, "The Role of Education in American History," Harvard Educational Review, 46.3 (1976), pp. 332–4.
Leading up to these topics, the Committee gave a short disquisition on the historical role of education. According to Storr, writing in 1976, Arthur Schlesinger had provided the key ideas the Committee advanced. At the 1954 meeting, Schlesinger had presented the inclusive conception of education essential to the whole effort and that conception continued to be the controlling idea of education throughout the Committee's work. "Any person living in the United States is shaped by a flood of influences or forces sweeping in upon him from nature, government, the farm, the factory, the region, family life, the periodical press, advertising, the churches, libraries, clubs, schools, etc."
Buck et al., "The Role of Education. . . .", p. 5.
There followed an artful solution to the problem of distinguishing educational history from intellectual and cultural history, a problem that comes into play whenever a historian adopts a conception of education as inclusive as this one the Committee adopted. "Education in the broadest sense" comprised all sorts of influences and forces. Within this assemblage, educational action was sometimes incidental and sometimes deliberate. And within the comprehensive process, deliberate education had a special role as a multiplier and modulator. The whole set of forces, intentional and accidental, put ideas into operation among a people, but the intentional part had a crucial reciprocal influence on all of it, shaping what ideas people could accidentally appropriate and how they might absord or tansform it. As a consequence, "the student of education seeks to find out how systematic instruction and information affect the reception of those ideas and so contribute to their efficacy." Thus the full historical effect of educational activity would aggregate both the incidental and the deliberate dissemination of ideas with the latter, deliberate educating, amplifying and modulating the action of the former, incidental educating. Cultural history would describe the various components of the culture; educational history would explain how people worked with these general components, finding themselves possessing the interests and skills to activate them or lacking the abilities to do so.
Buck et al., "The Role of Education. . . .", p. 6.
Members of the Committee were all skilled historians with an appreciation of the craft. They noted that the importance of documents would slant inquiry into the role of education towards institutions and activities that might generate a documentary record. Thus a locus of documentation would most likely be an institution, large or small, and it would be in tension with the enveloping society, of which it was a part, in the fashion of text and context. Reciprocal influence between society and the institution would be taking place. Consequently, the Committee observed, the historian could examine the tension between education and society from either of two directions, the effects of society on education or the influence of education on society. They noted that the effects of society on education have been studied far more fully than the effects of education on society and consequently indicated their disposition "to give particular encouragement to scholars who wish to examine education as a creative force in United States history."
Buck et al., "The Role of Education. . . .", p. 6.
At this point, the Committee noted a problem that would come to the fore in the decade of the 70s with the second wave of revisionism in educational history: are the determining effects exerted by society on education so powerful that education cannot act as an independent agent having effects from its side on the encompassing society. The Committee recognized, of course, that educational influences are largely socially determined and therefore work significantly to reproduce existing social realities. Yet educational forces had "a modicum of power to act on their own," enabling effects to build over time into "a shift of several degrees in [the social] course." For the Committee, historians needed to search out in nuanced ways the limited elements of educational agency that diverse historical subjects might exercise. Thus they called for work on educational leaders, different educational institutions and forces, teachers and other sources of instruction and guidance, curricula and less formal pedagogical programs, and policy processes including the routinizing of programs through bureaucracies. Many detailed inquiries needed to uncover the ways in which educational forces acted independently through individuals and institutions to the degree they could do so in the midst of powerful constraints.
Fund for the Advancement of Education (U.S.), Education and American History (New York: Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1965), p. 3-5.
Over the next ten years the Committee used its influence and funds to promote such inquiry. In 1958, representatives of a dozen or so history departments met at Princeton to discuss how they might advance the Committee's goals. A second conference, October 16-17, 1959, at Williamsburg, Virginia, seemed directed ostensibly to a limited group of specialists on colonial American history. Two years later, a third two-day conference took place at Berkeley, where Richard Hofstadter presented two essays on anti-intellectualism and education, which became part of his study of Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. A fourth meeting was held at the University of Minnesota to talk about education for immigrant groups. Finally, an extended invitational conference took place on Cape Cod at which historians presented papers on 19th-century education.
Bailyn, Bernard. Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study. New York: Norton, , 1972).
Bailyn, Forming, p.41.
Bailyn, Forming, p.14.
Of these meetings, the second two-day conference had the most evident effect. A select group of twenty colonial historians gathered for the third in an ongoing series on "Needs and Opportunities", sponsored by the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, to consider two papers presented by Bernard Bailyn about the historiography of colonial education. His first essay sketched a hypothetical history interpreting how less predictable, more expansive conditions on the colonies elicited changes in the English heritage. Frontier conditions stimulated newly settled colonists to turn away from the educational practices they had brought with them on crossing the Atlantic. Hence, the educational uses of family and household as the site of apprenticeship and the local community, particularly its church, were changed and weakened in order to build up more formal, officially supported educational institutions. The conjugal unit of the family persisted, but its extension over time and space became more tenuous; intergenerational authority weakened; and its sufficiency as the primary educative agent diminished. The same forces weakened apprenticeship structures and turned those that survived more exclusively towards a vocational quid pro quo between a labor hungry master and a skill hungry journeyman. The new land opened careers to talent and energy in ways that broke the old-world inheritance of vocations: Smith became a name, not an ascribed function. Yet the transfer of culture from one generation to another could not be taken for granted, especially in a world where the pressure of nature was imperious and the mark of culture on the environment contingent and tenuous. In response, education became "an act of will." The role of schools and colleges became amplified while support for them, and control over their goals and policies, came to depend on willed community action in the form of taxes or recurrent gifts, not the more passive earnings of endowed land, characteristic in England. The Revolution confirmed, but did not alter this essential transformation of the medieval heritage in education, "which was not unique to America, but like much else of the modern world, it appeared here first."
Bailyn, Forming, p.48.
Bailyn, Forming, p.49
At the end of his interpretative essay, Bailyn turned from his exploration of how conditions in the colonies transformed the educational presumptions brought from England to indicate, through a paragraph each, the two most important ways in which the transformation of education in America shaped "the development of American society," the ostensible subject of the book. First, it served as a powerful accelerator of social change, releasing "the restless energies and ambitions of groups and individuals," the very forces stimulated by the American environment to turn education in its willful, non-traditional directions in the first place. Second, the transformation "contributed much to the forming of national character." The new education broke the household cocoon, made authority acquired, not ascripted, and turned the individual towards self-reliance—the pedagogical grounds of "typical American individualism, optimism, and enterprise." Bailyn delivered these dicta as ungrounded assertions, thereby finessing the really difficult task of showing how pedagogical tendencies actually take hold in the character formation of individuals and then spread to a sufficient proportion of a people to mark their collective character. He identified the role of education, but he did not explain the pedagogical processes by which it wrought this role. And in his bibliographic essay, which was immensely rich in the discussion of historical particulars about educational agencies at work in the colonial origins and experience, Bailyn paid little attention to sources or literature pertaining to how educational actions operated as causal determinants of general historical developments.
Compare the way Bailyn looked first at the cultural heritage brought with them by the early colonists and then assessed the changes the conditions in the new land forced the colonists to make with the way Schlesinger framed the matter: "What, then, is the American from the historian's point of view . . . ? The answer, briefly expressed, is so simple as to be a truism. this 'new man' is the product of the interplay of his Old World heritage and New World conditions. Real understanding dawns only when the nature of these two factors is properly assessed." The American Historical Review (vol. 48, no. 2 January 1943), pp. 225–244, especialy pp. 227ff.
Yet the Committee on the Role of Education in American History had hoped to elicit answers to precisely those pedagogical processes pertaining to the way education actually shaped historical experience. They wanted clarification of how educational activities served as agencies determining American history, not how American historical experience served as agencies shaping educational activities. Taken by itself, Bailyn's discussion of educational agencies in colonial America would appear as a highly competent specialist work, one indicating many opportunities for research showing how conditions in a sparsely settled land shaped educational practices adapted originally to very different conditions of life. But one can imagine Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., harrumphing that Bailyn framed his hypothetical history exactly as he, Schlesinger, had done in "What Then Is the American, This New Man?", his 1942 Presidential Address to the American Historical Association What had Bailyn added? The Committee had made clear the importance of examining "education as a creative force in United States history," yet the substantive strength of Bailyn's essays was in showing the effects of social changes under novel circumstances on the educational arrangements brought to the colonies.
Bailyn, Forming, 8. My suggestion of a both possible disappointment or a possible surprise among Committee members is at this stage merely something I hypothesize and look forward to testing by interviewing Bailyn and delving into archival holdings for Faust, Buck, and Schlesinger. I draw the hypothesis because the published record seems very careful to direct the work of the Committee towards historians in academic departments of history, not those in schools of education. Although Francis Keppel and Bailyn participated in the original 1954 meeting, both seem to have dropped out of further proceedings between the original meeting and the presentation of Bailyn's essays four years later.
Possibly disappointed, the Committee members may equally have been a bit surprised. Despite its brevity, Education in the Forming of American Society included more than a review of the professional historians' treatment of colonial education—a devastating critique of the existing literature in the history of education as it had been developed and used in schools of education. Whatever the response at Williamsburg to this part of his presentation, it caught the attention of scholars in education. Bailyn opened his interpretative essay by observing that unlike the prior topics, colonial science and early relations with indigenous peoples, which were suffering from neglect, his topic, the early history of American education had become part of "the patristic literature of a powerful academic ecclesia" securely ensconced in schools of education since the 1890s. It was inbred, isolated, and anachronistic. Bailyn critiqued the histories of education written from the 1890s into the 1920s in the formative period for use in university-based schools of education, boosting compulsory mass schooling. As educational missionaries, the authors condescended to the past, seeing it as the present writ small, blinding themselves and their readers to the unexpected. Obsessed with the development of public school systems, their purposes caused thought to short-circuit; they could see in the past only primitive intimations of the present and as a result they could only chronicle continuities, unable to perceive, let alone explain interesting change. Bailyn's target was ripe and his anathema provided a short, dry book with a powerful, attention-getting hook. The effects on the history of education changed its writing and uses substantially, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse.
Cohen. "The History of the History of American Education (1976) in Cohen, Challenging Orthodoxies: Toward a New Cultural History of Education. (New York: Peter Lang, 1999) p. 23.
Doubtless Bailyn's unexpected critique elicited in ensuing years much serious scholarship in the history of education. But it did so by deflecting effort away from what the Committee on the Role of Education in American History had sought to support. Sol Cohen has developed the very interesting possibility that Bailyn's critique, as it became amplified by Cremin and others, really aimed to bring to a head a power struggle then current in schools of education, securing the influence of scholars there who wanted to regulate research in education by applying academic, disciplinary norms rather than those of professional, field-oriented practice. Such a purpose suited Keppel's purposes at Harvard. And Cremin's at Columbia (of the eight reviews of Bailyn's essay that JSTOR retrieves, four just happen to be by Cremin and his colleagues at TC). Certainly Bailyn's critique hastened the decline of the social foundations movement, large composite courses for all students in schools of education that had flourished from the 1930s into the 50s. Further, publication of Bailyn's essays, followed closely by Cremin's Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1956, consolidated the prestige of disciplinary based scholarship at Teachers College and other schools of education. Cohen correctly judged that while the call Bailyn and the Committee were issuing had some influence among professional historians, they "had more influence . . . among historians of education on faculties at teachers colleges and schools of education."
Victory in this power struggle, played out in the name of contrasting intellectual visions, carried within it the grounds for its own collapse. First, Bailyn's critique had very little effect in actually shifting the institutional base. It instead actually left the history of education and related social science inquiries into education still situated primarily in schools of education, where their institutional rationale remained to be justified through their functionality in the work of the professional school. Within schools of education, the enhanced academic prestige won by the new historians was largely cosmetic. But that was useful in the early 60s, for the perennial pressure on schools of education to raise academic standards had been particularly high in the aftermath of Sputnik and both enrollments and research funding were relatively flush, lowering the pressures on academic units in schools of education to justify their costs against income. In these circumstances, power came easily to those with academic prestige and it did not seem particularly important to plan strategies for keeping that power should the favorable circumstances change. Consequently, no one paid much attention to the second seed of future collapse, a more subtle one, namely that Bailyn's critique did little to change the role and function within the professional schools of education served by the knowledge that historians and other social scientists generated about education.
Bernard Bailyn, On the Teaching and Writing of History: Responses to a Series of Questions (Hanover, N.H: Montgomery Endowment, Dartmouth College, 1994).
Bailyn stigmatized the way historians in schools of education had played to their audience. In his view, history written by and for members of a profession other than the historical profession would be bad history. There was not much one could do about it other than have history written by and for members of the historical profession and he did not say much about why members of the educational profession should support such history when the pressures began to pinch. Here one might hoist Bailyn upon his own petard, for he displayed a singular lack of curiosity about why educators in schools of education at the turn of the 20th century had come to write the peculiar kind of history that he showed them to have written. Interviewing Bailyn in 1994, Edward Connery Lathem asked Bailyn whether he thought professionals could write good history about their profession and Bailyn hearkened back to Education in the Forming of American Society and suggested that the temptation to foreshorten history in a search for the antecedents of the present was nearly irresistible. Better leave it to academic historians interested in the past for its own sake.
Bernard Bailyn, On the Teaching and Writing. . . . pp. 88–9.
We come here to a crux of the matter. What is the relationship between historical inquiry and a sound causal interpretation of what educates? We have seen how Cremin felt a need to turn to other forms of inquiry in order to arrive at a clear theory of education and we have noted that he used that theory, in a rather opaque way, primarily to identify diverse examples of educative activity and to describe what they did. In a similar way, Bailyn seems to evidence similar proclivities. He identified a strong susceptibility among educators writing the history of their field to produce anachronistic inquiries into a past understood as the present writ small. But he seemed uninterested in why they did that and incurious whether they might have done otherwise. Revisiting the matter years later he suggested that such foibles are merely natural, for "they seem impelled," allowing only that a few, on becoming highly sensitized to the danger might "try to correct for it." Neither Cremin nor Bailyn, it would seem, would claim history, in particular the history of education, to be an independent source of positive knowledge about how education can and should take place. Their definitions of education generate descriptive agendas. Let us put the question that Bailyn left unasked: is there a historical explanation why the historians of education in schools of education wrote the sorts of foreshortened, anachronistic histories that they chose to write? To say simply that they were impelled to do it is a mystification, not an explanation. Might they have done otherwise and if so why did they do what they did?
4. Who was Schleiermacher?
Gunter R. Schmidt, a specialist in the foundations of education and religious education at the University of Hamburg, made this point in the beginning of "Friedrich Schleiermacher, a Classical Thinker on Education," Educational Theory, 22.4 (1972), 450-459. Unfortunately, Schmidt wrote with too little sense of how best to bring out Schleiermacher's relevance for educational thought in the United States to awaken real attention to him. Typically, for the founding of educational scholarship in the United States, a work such as The History of Pedagogy by Gabriel Compayré's (William Harold Payne, trans., D. C. Heath & Company, 1905) passed as good history of education. It had a useless two sentences on Schleiermacher and a page and a half on the German educational thought and practice in the decades before and after 1800.
Pick up a German Geschichte der Pädagogik and peruse the contents. The cast of characters will largely be familiar from most any History of Educational Thought, except for the chapter on Schleiermacher, prominent in the German histories and absent in the American. Chances are, unless interested in Protestant theology, an American educator will have no inkling who Friedrich Schleiermacher was. Interest in many educators who wrote in German, especially Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel, came to the American schools of education as these developed in the decades before and after 1900, largely by importing German pedagogical thought and practice. Schleiermacher did not make the crossing because Americans imported a particular historical variant of the available German repertoire, one in which Schleiermacher, and a few others as well, were persona non grata. The issue in contention had to do with the role of educational history in the proper study of education, an issue not irrelevant to the story that Bailyn told. And the issue that was in contention may still be relevant to the study of education, and to the study of much else of human import as well.
Surhkamp Verlag, one of the most prominent publishers in Germany bases its 10 volume paperback edition of Plato's work on Schleiermacher's translations, Platon Sämtliche Werke in zehn Bänden. Griechisch und deutsch. "The Art of Interpreting Plato," Julia A. Lamm's contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher (Jacqueline Mariña, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), is an excellent discussion.
In addition to The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher, see Wilhelm Dilthey's Leben Schleiermachers (vol. XIII in Dilthey's Gesammelte Schriften, Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner, 1957) and Kurt Nowak's Schleiermacher: Leben, Werk und Wirkung (Göttigen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2001). My reading of Schleiermacher is still very much a work in progress, and I explain how I now understand his work with as much clarity and vigor as I can muster, but it should be understood as a provisional interpretation, offered as a starting point for further inquiry by myself and others, not as a set of conclusions based on exhaustive study. For examples of its use in educational history, see Fritz März, Problemgeschichte der Pädagogik (2 vols., Bad Heilbrunn: Verlag Julius Kinkhardt, 1978, 1980), and Dietrich Benner, Die Pädagogik Herbarts: Eine problemgeschichtliche Einführung in die Systematik neuzeitlicher Pädagogik (2nd. ed., Weinheim: Juventa Verlag, 1993). An older survey provides a good example as well, Das Pädagogische Problem in der Geistesgeschichte der Neuzeit by Hermann Leser (2 vols., Munich: Druck und Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, 1925 & 1928), the second volume of which is very useful with respect to contributors to Neuhumanismus.
To describe Schleiermacher as a key founder of liberal Protestant theology is accurate but unsatisfactory, for that description leaves much out. He absorbed, integrated, and advanced the powerful thinking of his time, acting as a many-sided public intellectual, sometimes in official favor and sometimes not. He won a diverse audience as a writer and preacher who proved inwardly meaningful to many persons with diverse casts of mind. He secured important advances in the theory of interpretation and translation and applied his ideas about these in practice, not only on religious texts, but on the classics as well, translating almost all of Plato's dialogues into German versions that still stand as among the best. He collaborated in effecting major educational reforms in both secondary and higher education. For many years a prominent professor at the most innovative university of his time, he taught engaged students in tension with the likes of Fichte and Hegel across a repertoire of big subjects—the major branches of theology (philosophical, historical, and practical), dialectics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, ethics, pedagogy, and on. If his ideas did not make his time, they did move his time in a humane, constructive direction, helping people to find and nourish meaning in their lives.
On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers By Friedrich Schleiermacher (Richard Crouter, ed., New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
It may seem to some to be an oxymoron to call Schleiermacher a great humanistic theologian, but that oxymoron arises only when overly circumscribed views of the human and the divine fail to overlap. In a doctrinaire sense, Schleiermacher was neither a believer nor a skeptic; the starting point was not a matter of belief or non-belief, but a simple recognition—he found himself living a life that was somehow given, he knew not how or why, and it required him to act, to engage in a process of determining the doing of something that moves from the future, through the present, and into the past. I might next write any one of many words—perhaps with some hesitation, I think this and then that, but then the fingers start to move in the active present, and then, looking now at what I did, the determinate words are there, fixed by the active present for past time from the indeterminate future. Schleiermacher thought all people sensed their life in such a way. We recognize ourslves dependent on making all sorts of irrevocable determinations in the midst of an encompassing unknown. He understood that this recognition was the source and substance of all experience and most importantly of religious experience in the historical reality of life, and the source and substance of any organized religion would be the historical actuality of the lived experience that resulted as people determined their lives, coping with their unique circumstances while sensing their contingency as a living element supporting itself in the given world. In this way, from his initial success in 1799 with On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers, Schleiermacher offered a wide channel for thinking seriously about lived experience in which neither doctrinaire belief nor adamant denial, those imaginary poles grasped at by all those who need certain knowledge, would take precedence over sound understanding as the basis for lived fulfillment.
Das Leben Jesu was a nascent genra that Schleiermacher greatly advanced in his lectures, at which David Friedrich Strauss was a close auditor.
See Friedrich Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings (Andrew Bowie, ed., New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer by Richard E. Palmer (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969) is a widely read secondary source setting Schleiermacher in his philosophical context.
Historical life, sustained by groups and experienced by individuals, preoccupied Schleiermacher. In living a historical life, the basic challenge was interpretive, hermeneutical, to find oneself having to make sense within an immense and powerful otherness, having in endless ways to determine the indeterminate and to suffer the consequences. Each person faced the vital imperative inherent in the condition of finding oneself alive in a complex world: develop some understanding with which to act, to endure, perhaps to flourish. This imperative was not an external ought, but an immanent necessity. As interpretation was essential in writing history and in reading texts, it was even more omnipresent and inescapable in living life. Within philosophy, Schleiermacher gave hermeneutics, the theory of interpretation, greater importance relative to epistemology, the theory of knowledge. In theology, revealed doctrine did not define a church; a church, understood as a historical, social interaction of living persons, revealed its doctrines through the meanings its members manifested in the historical experiencing of their lives. These lives incarnated their interpretation of their religiosity, of their feeling of contingency within the mysterious givenness of their lives and the world in which they live them. A historical theology emerged into history through the cumulative experience of the members of an historical church. This vital situation was circular, as it must be, for interpretation works on and through reciprocal interactions, which were what the given life consisted in: to live is to cope continuously with all the circumstantial reactions to every action that one takes. Fulfillment and decline come, not through direct progressions, but through spirals of interaction that prove virtuous or vicious in their cumulative effects.
This primacy of historical life and the concomitant centrality of interpretation in it led to a distinctive understanding of educational relationships between persons, who constituted in their sphere of shared life a commonality of differences, each the source of an increment of pedagogical potential. Schleiermacher found that what educated came from within the living person through their continuous acts of interpretation by means of which the person contended with others, who were like but different, and in doing so disclosed and brought his or her potentialities into actuality. Through formative interaction with specific circumstances, a person could actualize himself only through a bounded set of possibilities suited to those circumstances, but the actualizing was immanent, from within, for the drive and impetus to make sense of those possibilities came not from those circumstances, but from within each living person. Among other things, Schleiermacher was a great translator of Plato because he brought to fruition in himself a deep and profound interpretation of the difficult, important understandings of life and education embedded in Plato's thought and work.
In a vocabulary suited to thinking about lived experience, substituting gerunds for abstract nouns leads to greater clarity, for meaning inheres in the acting. Thus, educating happened in experiences lived by active, thinking persons engaging in forming themselves by pursuing fulfillment, by developing skills, and by construing intentions within all the key domains of life—familial, social, political, and intellectual. What educated was participating in a common, shared life that arose as persons of different ages, capacities, and characteristics interacted across all their differences. Engaging in all the constituent elements of life was what educated, a process by which each differentiates and incarnates his or her unique personhood. Educating would take place pervasively through all the main components of the common life—family, language, community, civic association, the state, religion, thought and knowledge. Additionally, educating occurred through participating in specialized instructional arrangements, which served special purposes within the encompassing educative sphere: what these arrangements could and should offer and how they could best offer it depended significantly on the circumstances with which each participant coped and how each understood what he could and should make of himself.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, Texte Zur Pädagogik: Kommentierte Studienausgabe Band 2: Grundzüge der Erziehungskunst (Vorlesungen 1826), Michael Winkler and Jens Brachmann, eds. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), passim, quotation from p. 292. The text of these lectures is a full, 400 page work on the art of education first published in 1849 from notes by Schleiermacher and his students of his lectures on pedagogy given in 1826.
For Schleiermacher, each person lived a pedagogical drama by striving towards a human fulfillment through an interpretative interaction between Fertigkeit, realized skill, capacity, accomplishment, and Gesinnung, motivating disposition, intention, sentiment, conviction. One had some skill and acted with it according to some motivation and the experienced results gave clues about what might follow, with it all orienting itself by a longing for a fulfillment that was always a real feeling, however variable and subject to reinterpretation its object would always be. Educating was an ongoing, ubiquitous hermeneutic activity, continuously interpreting oneself and the world, through which persons living in a given world formed their capacities to anticipate and act within it. A protean intention would lead to a tentative forming of a skill and the new skill would enable intention to differentiate and concretize in a drama of pedagogical contingencies. Geist or spirit—living intelligence and thought—must pervade all instruction: beware method lest it become mechanical, for "the mechanical is death." In scant outline, these were the educational views that the founders of the study of education in the United States did not incorporate into the repertoire of educational ideas they derived from their European heritage.
Let us pause for a moment to orient ourselves within our own inquiry. We began by recognizing the importance and timeliness to the way Lawrence Cremin used a broad, inclusive definition of education to structure his extensive inquiries into the history of American education. Conceiving of educative experience comprehensively would more effectively contextualize educative work through formal arrangements such as schools, channeling more effort to the improvement of informal educational arrangements in our culture and encouraging work within formal structures to proceed with a stronger sense of purpose and a greater capacity to take the differing circumstances of different individuals into appropriate educative consideration. We observed that Cremin's broad definition of education, however sound, has had little effect on the historical practice of education in American life over the past fifty or so years and that it has largely been abandoned by current historians of education. We took a first step in trying to resuscitate it by suggesting that the broad definition of education that Cremin used might not have been, as critics have alleged, the source of the evident deficiencies that they perceived in Cremin's writings. Instead, we suggested that those deficiencies arose because Cremin evidenced a strong disposition to confine his scholarship to historical description, not exposing the reasoned grounds for his historical judgments or joining in debate about the soundness of them. This reticence, we suggested, made his work far less interesting and compelling that it might have been and we attributed the reticence, not to a quirk of Cremin, but to norms characterizing the historical profession during the late 20th century. Bernard Bailyn, the other great exponent of the broad definition of education, also manifested this reticence, which was evident in his critique of the educational history written in schools of education early in the 20th century. As a result of that reticence, Bailyn had been content merely to identify and describe the deficiencies in the work, not to interpret how and why the work had come to be deficient beyond saying that it was in the nature of that kind of historian to write that kind of history, a classic virtus dormativa.
In search of a better explanation, we compared American histories of educational thought with those written in Germany, the place from which the founders of American educational scholarship, so denigrated by Bailyn, were drawing their inspiration. We noticed a difference: from the early 20th-century on, American educational historians have said virtually nothing about Schleiermacher, whereas German educational historians have said, and still say, a lot. We have taken a superficial look at what Schleiermacher had to say in general and more specifically about education. We now need to carry our inquiry to its conclusion by asking three questions. First, was Schleiermacher representative of anything of substance and importance and does it have potential intrinsic interest to those of us concerned with education? Second, how and why did it happen that Schleiermacher's work, and the movement of thought and experience that it might represent, did not get incorporated into the American study of education and does that have anything to do with the sort of histories that American educators wrote? And third, what agenda of scholarship might lead to our recovering the possibilities the work of Schleiermacher and his peers might bring to us and would the benefits of recovering it be commensurate with the scale of effort it would entail? With these questions, let us resume our inquiry, having sampled Schleiermacher, still uncertain what his life and work might represent.
5. How does humanity educate itself?
Theodor Ballauff and Klaus Schaller give a thorough survey of major contributions in the 3rd and 4th parts of Pädagogik: Eine Geschichte der Bildung und Erziehung -- Band II: vom 16. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert (Munich: Verlag Karl Alber1970, esp., pp.338–567). For good interpretations of the pedagogical development of Neuhumanismus, see die Geschichte der Pädagogik: Von der Aufklärung bis zur Gegenwart by Herwig Blankertz (Wetzlar: Büchse der Pandora, 1982) and Theorie und Geschichte der Reformpädagogik, Teil 1: Die pädagogische Bewegung von der Aufklärung bis zum Neuhumanismus by Dietrich Benner and Herwart Kemper (Weinheim: Beltz Verlag, 2003). Neuhumanismus makes sense within what is sometimes called Problemgeschichte in German. It groups work and activity that shared a common starting point, a perceived problem that motivated diverse people to address it with both similar and divergent results. We might translate the endeavor into English by saying that one is writing about a 'historical problematic', or perhaps even better a 'historic problematic'—both are better than the self-defeating 'problematic history' but neither is entirely satisfactory.
Schleiermacher explained his understanding of education with minimal reference to the thought of others, but his views were representative of a movement, often identified in German as Neuhumanismus, a humanism that was new relative to that of the Renaissance. For those of us interested in education, the term Neuhumanismus serves a useful purpose, for it permits attending to a movement of thought and experience in a way that draws attention to a sphere of human activity that would otherwise disperse across several of our more familiar retrospective groupings such as the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Neuhumanismus centers on the advanced German humanism of Schleiermacher's time, ideas and activities schooled in Kant's critiques of reason, inspired by the revolution in France, awakened by Napoleon to an awareness at once national and cosmopolitan, enthused by a romantic sense of the past, and supported by bourgeois civic involvements.
For Schleiermacher's activities with the founding and implementation of the University of Berlin and for the effects of his pedagogical ideas, see Nowak, Schleiermacher, pp. 215–223 and 500–507.
Pressed by many commitments and demands, preoccupied by other writing projects, Schleiermacher left his main educational works unpublished among his papers. But he was not without pedagogical influence in his time. He had a concrete role in the Prussian educational reforms early in the 19th century, working with Wilhelm von Humboldt and others, and he became one of the most prominent examples of the new professorial ideal associated with the University of Berlin, conscientiously exercising his Lehrfreiheit, a freedom to teach, through which he set forth in course after course his considered views of many subjects to those who wished to attend to them. Such teaching, in combination with that of peers such as Hegel, had significant influence on the the professionalization of education through the work of Adolf Diesterweg and others. And like the whole thrust of his thought, Schleiermacher's posthumously published ideas about education provided a representative summation of the pedagogical ideas that he and his contemporaries had been forming.
Here we can make only a cursory inventory of Neuhumanismus, which drew on important ingredients from across enlightened Europe and emerged powerfully in the late 18th century. These ideas flourished as writers, primarily German Protestants, advanced a critical pedagogy in the Kantian sense, asking how the self-determination of mankind was possible. Currents of advanced thought coursing through Europe, particularly Hume's skeptical arguments about causality, awakened not only Kant from dogmatic slumber, but others as well, undercutting the assurance that mankind generally and oneself specifically enjoyed a secure place in a providential chain of being. 18th-century German rationalism had held that human reason, for some by itself and for others with the aid of divine revelation, attained certain knowledge that redemption and salvation in a transcendent eternity was a real prospect, open to each, regardless of his or her present station in life. This assurance came into general doubt: even those, like Kant's colleague, Johann Georg Hamann, who decided to believe nonetheless, were forced to entertain deep uncertainties about the powers of human reason. Such an awakening was taking place all over Europe and to some degree it came a bit late to German areas, but when it came there the conditions were both somewhat peculiar and ripe. A reading public, a salaried economic base and little prospect for political influence channeled its awakening awareness into directions more cultural and pedagogical than political or entrepreneurial. It did so at a time when a quickening of communications invigorated life in towns and the many small cities dotting the German lands and a stronger trade in books, journals, and pamphlets, diverse tools for cultural and pedagogical action, were emerging as significant means for realizing human aspiration. The upshot was a bright fluorescence of intellectual and cultural striving that took as a point of departure the recognition that to be human entailed living as a self-directing, indeterminate actor in a big, recalcitrant world. Finding ourselves in this situation, can we understand what makes it possible for us to do what we seem able to do? And with that critical self-awareness, can we soundly select from among all the possibilities which ones are the ones that we should rightly pursue?
Thinkers, poets, writers, critics, teachers, preachers, scholars: all faced up to problems of human freedom, no longer assured of a benevolent deity, providentially succoring and guiding them. The movement of thought, which we can call Neuhumanismus drew together one of those unusual concentrations of concern and capacity that occasionally arise in history and to sample their achievements well we need to adopt a careful perspective. In college and beyond, students like ourselves almost always experience the work of past thinkers as a name with some tags attached, and if we inquire further, we usually encounter a summative discussion of a thinker's life and work, as if it had sprung forth all at once, a completed corpus of thought for study in and for itself. When we think about influence on or by such a finished figure, our retrospection creates the impression of ideas transmitted from one historical bucket to the next, Fichte getting Kant whole, and Hegel Fichte whole, and with others standing by as mere onlookers, performing, if at all, the role of a chorus. In such a view, influence and originality seem only to flow forward in time from source to destination, much like typical school instruction in which teachers teach and students learn. The actualities of people thinking together under the conditions of their lived experience are very different, however.
Each person crafts and projects a mix of originalities and appropriations within an encompassing field of shared, active thinking, extended in scope and duration, where ideas and concerns of confused paternity circulate in complicated interactions, actual and potential. We technologists are learning to see such interactions as being endowed with "affordances," potentialities for insight and action for those who will use them. Within a living, historical locus of concern, participants use the affordances they find in and about them to labor at works, large and small, struggling to say what they have to say within the murmur of many voices, uncertain, uncaring about the mix of novelty and repetition in it, as long as it bears with some fit and effect within the flow of interaction into which it projects. When the affordances derived from their concerns are unusually powerful and their work coheres with extensive communicative interactions among them, a movement of thought can become unusually extensive in scope and strong in power. Schleiermacher lived and worked as a late representative of such a field of effective intellectual interaction, one of the great ones, an important one for thinking about what educates.
J. G. Herder, Letter 32, Briefe zu Beföderung der Humanität (1793) in Herders Sämmtliche Werke, Bernhard Suphan, ed., Vol. 17, p. 153.
Glance over the appended table of names, dates, and tags: it crudely displays the overlap of interaction of a sampling of participants in this discussion of what educates called Neuhumanism. Let us allow ourselves a historical hypothesis here, for after all we are still discussing Bailyn's hypothetical history: like its great predecessor in Classical Athens, where an unusual concentration of good thinkers joined to worry the question whether virtue, arete, human excellence could be taught, here an unusual grouping of good minds gathered over several generations to argue out what would best educate, recognizing, as J. G. Herder put it, that "each can contribute to the betterment of humanity only what he himself makes of what he can and should become." Singly and together, what can and should human persons make of themselves? Here was a shared search for the educative capacities that were immanent in human persons, singly and collectively. Here was the living source of critical philosophy and its follow through in critical idealism (Kant, Fichte, etc.), of the poetic and artistic celebrations of self-constituting selves (Goethe, Schiller, etc.), of fast-spreading historical inquiry into the many-sided human capacity for creative self-differentiation (Lessing, Herder, etc.), of the deep probing about how the human uses of language in their different varieties and forms generate cultural traditions flourishing across time and space (Hamann, Wilhelm von Humboldt, etc.), of the phenomenological reflection on the unfolding of human possibility through the self-creation of Geist, that is, spirited thinking by persons alive in a world (Hegel). Let us try to grasp this concern in its full complexity as best we can in order to weigh what may have been at stake by leaving it behind as American educators constructed a pedagogical past for use in schools of education.
We advance this conviction here as a working hypothesis for serious consideration. This essay is not suitable, however, for laying out the full grounds for characterizing the work grouped as Neuhumanismus as work that cohered intelligibly because it arose from a shared pedagogical concerns. It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss this hypothesis in a conditioned reflex of academic condescension towards educational endeavor without taking into account bits of evidence in its favor. For instance, both Hegel and Herder served for significant, productive periods in their maturity in school administration, Hegel as rector of a good gymnasium and Herder as superintendent of schools for the Duchy of Weimar. etc.
One might object that in a larger sense the work grouped as Neuhumanismus has not been left behind at all, for students of literature, poetry, drama, history, philosophy, linguistics, religion, and even education are likely to study works by a few of those listed and in the cases of literature and philosophy, by many of them. Remarkably few on the list are thoroughly obscure; remarkably many are highly preeminent. One can too easily break this grouping apart under separate headings of philosophy, poetry, the novel, history, criticism, politics, pedagogy, and on. That may be fine for different purposes. But for our purposes, for educational purposes, that would arbitrarily break apart what holds together. The ideas gathered together as Neuhumanismus concern constitutive educational experience, the formative self-determination of human possibilities. All this work cohered around the historical actuality of a comprehensive, ubiquitous educational experience self-activated through philosophy, poetry, the novel, history, criticism, politics, pedagogy, and all of social life. Our hypothesis here is simply that the challenge of fulfilling oneself through human self-formation within one's historical life was not only a frequent topic within all this work, but was the generative principle giving rise to and running through it all, the experience out of which its creators brought their work into being and the context of concern from which its most important meanings flow. Can humans, living historical lives, dependent on themselves and human peers, achieve a meaningful fulfillment? This question puts the challenge of modernity. And it put it as a challenge ultimately both historical and pedagogical in character.
While the parts of what Schleiermacher represents have a presence in various components of American cultural life, that presence is dispersed and decentered. All of it together was an important movement of thought and concern about the immanence throughout historical life of all that educates and about the historical imperative of human self-determination. What can I make of what I can and should become? What can we make of what we can and should become? Breaking it all apart had direct costs for incorporating the pedagogical past into the American schools of education. The few components that were appropriated were taken out of context. For instance, American and British educational scholars produced a spate of books about great educators, and among them they wrote about Kant as a great thinker who addressed education, attending primarily to Über Pädagogik. By narrowing Kant's educational significance to that text, a commentary narrowed the understanding of the whole movement, for a major strand developed out of Kant's whole practice of critical philosophizing, asking how different forms of reason were possible in order to determine how persons could and should try to reason about their world and their potentialities for action in it.
The history of the progressive education movement in the United States is ripe, I suspect, for a treatment setting it fully in a trans-Atlantic context of educational reform, akin to the what Daniel T. Rodgers has done for social politics in Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998). James T. Kloppenberg has laid the intellectual foundations for that in Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). Reformpädagogik, the German equivalent to progressive education up to the end of the Weimar period, drew heavily from Neuhumanismus as Benner and Kemper show in their Theorie und Geschichte der Reformpädagogik. There was surely more from this tradition than Cremin shows at work in his brief discussion of what Francis W. Parker drew from Pestalozzi and Froebel in The Transformation of the School, p. 134.
Within the Anglo-American context there is a distinct tendency to segment educational concerns with respect to the general culture, higher education, and schooling, which disaggregates the way we think about the educational implications and influences associated with transcendentalism, for instance. In contrast, the educational concerns of Neuhumanismus were deeply embedded in well-known work across a range of genres. Emerson and other transcendentalists ooze with the educational concerns of Neuhumanismus and a biography such as Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson, Jr., discusses Emerson in interaction with numerous figures from our list—Eichhorn, Fichte, Goethe, Hegel, Herder, Kant, Novalis, Pestalozzi, Richter, Schelling, Schlegel, Schleiermacher, and Wolf.
Likewise, scholars constructing the American variant of educational history avidly imported Pestalozzi, but his work cannot stand in isolation as an adequate representative of the movement of which he was a part. Broken from the context of Neuhumanismus, Pestalozzi too easily became another Swiss curiosity, like Edelweiss at home in rarefied places, tinged with a nostalgia for a village pedagogy best suited to a world we have lost. Additionally, they attended to the work of Rousseau, but its educational implications had been most fully examined in the context of Neuhumanismus, and without that context, his pedagogy seemed awkward to implement on first impression. Uncertain what to make of it in practice, they attended to Rousseau's person, which invited a din of ad hominem attack by straight-laced Victorians ever on guard against seduction by a dissolute soul. Finally, much in American transcendentalism and in the British movement of thought from Wordsworth through Coleridge and Carlyle to Newman and Arnold would have gained both sense and import had it been seen in interaction with the writers of German Neuhumanismus. By glossing over the German background of transcendentalist ideas, American educators diminished the richness of our own traditions.
In these ways, American educators incurred costs in leaving Schleiermacher and his contemporaries behind. Unfortunately by the late nineteenth century when the development of American educational scholarship got seriously underway, it had become easy to misconstrue the work of Neuhumanismus, mainly for two reasons. To concentrate on historical life, and to become preoccupied with the task of the new humanist, contributing to humanity what one makes of what one can and should become, requires a minimal sense of affluence and security, a willingness to put economic and political worries in the background while concentrating on creative choices. A sense that one could not assume a sustaining order immediately at hand, from which to manage the unexpected, and a feeling that the future was open, replete with positive possibilities, relative to which one had not yet fully achieved or exhausted one's potential efficacy, were important characteristics shared by persons like Kant, Lessing, Wieland, Herder, Pestalozzi, Goethe, Fichte, von Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and on. Generalizations about such dispositions always turn on marginal differences and ecological shifts in which small changes in external circumstances trigger a displacement of dominant types. Events conspired to convert the eighteenth-century experience of nationality as a cultural and educational experience into nineteenth-century experience of it as a matter of large-scale political mobilization. Those primarily concerned with historical life as the ground and locus of human existence very literally shifted their attention, ceasing to perceive the essential process in it to be the phenomenological self-creation of the creative spirit and asserting that the key to what human beings can and should make of themselves lay in the historical interworking of labor and capital.
6. Who will educate educators?
What gives a professional the warrant to act on another's behalf? This question, which naturally adheres to any pretense to expertise, became more difficult as dogmatic certainty broke down in the late 18th century. Claims to an inherent authority, derived from the natural, divinely sanctioned order of things, diminished in their power to prepossess deference. It was a virtuous question in the sense that asking it and having to answer it probably made elites associated with many functions more responsible and responsive in their ministration to human needs. Across many professions the education of prospective members sharpened up, the recruitment of talent broadened, slowly but perceptibly, and attentive cultivation of the stock of skill and knowledge that gave it expertise deepened and improved. With this situation, there arose the opportunity for significant disagreement, internal to each profession and elite, about the source of the authority with which its members could best develop their functions and assert their control over who could and could not perform them.
F. A. Wolf, the classical philologist, had a prominent role in this process, along with Niemeyer, Schwarz, and Herbart, and it is interesting that in doing so the origin of the archetypal discipline of the modern university, classical philology, was tied closely to the origin of the anti-discipline of the modern university, education. Wolf founded modern philology and he did so partly from his own profound interest in the Homeric problem, as he defined it, and partly from the recognition that schoolteachers primarily instructed their students in Latin and Greek. Sound philological skills, combined with a deeper understanding of educational purposes and principles, would make for the significant qualitative improvement of gymnasial education. The Philological Seminar, the first of its kind, which Wolf initiated and developed at the University of Halle, became the institutional backbone of Classical philology. It was simultaneously one of the first full programs developed for the preparation of teachers in collaboration with Niemeyer's work through the Francke Stiftung. Such seminars initiated university instruction based on research and practical training. This would replace the semester of lectures on pedagogy delivered by professors of philosophy or theology that previously had served to give students a modest preparation for teaching school while awaiting a call to preach or profess. Wolf knew the score, for he had grown up in a household headed by an ill-prepared schoolmaster for whom the call had never come. Better make teaching a profession in its own right, a development that succeeded well in nineteenth-century Germany, founded in significant part on Wolf's philological seminar. For an up-to-date overview, see Georgios Fatouros, "Wolf, Friedrich August Christian Wilhelm," Biographische-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, vol. xiii, (Verlag Traugott Bautz:1998), pp. 1501–4. online [accessed 17 September 2007]. For an elegant, full appreciation of Wolf, see the anonymous review of "Friedrich August Wolf in seinem Verhältnisse zum Schulwesen and zur Pädagogik dargestellt von Prof. Dr. J. F. J. Arnoldt," The North British Review (1865), 245–299 Google Books (pp. 286–340) [accessed 17 September 2007]. This is an extraordinarily well-written and well-informed essay, which makes one want to know who its author was. The North British Review was one of the leading British reviews in the mid-19th century. One possibility is the biographer, David Mather Masson, who, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, wrote many anonymous articles for The North British Review and other journals.
In late 18th-century Germany, such attention began to spread to the recruitment and preparation of teachers who would staff increasingly organized systems of schools. This is not the place to recount these developments. In the largest sense they are everywhere still unfolding and encompass many matters worthy of consideration. Within the larger, ongoing movement, we need to narrow our attention to the milieu from which the founders of educational scholarship in the United States drew much of their inspiration, namely the professionalizing of education in 19th-century Germany. That itself is an immensely complicated story, and within it, we can concentrate here only on the emergence of developments that deeply affected the way American educational scholars dealt with the historical aspects of education. Many contributors to the movement of thought we have been calling Neuhumanismus, among them Basedow, Kant, Herder, Salzmann, Trapp, Campe, Villaume, Pestalozzi, Niemeyer, Wolf, Fichte, Niethammer, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Hegel, and Schleiermacher, participated in the early efforts towards developing the educational profession. Suffice it to say that by the early 19th century, they and their peers had amassed an extensive stock of well-described educational principles and practices with increasing attention to how to systematize it for effective presentation to prospective educators. To be sure, writers would frequently work with it ad hoc, according to their personal convictions, justifying their version of the whole by dogmatic appeal to external authority, be it theological, political, or conventional—a perennial practice, still vigorous, of which Raumer's work is a good example.
To sharper minds, however, it was (and is) evident that prestige, power, and positive effect would better accrue to those who could show convincingly that their organization of the field was fully consistent with rationally persuasive principles. The essence of our story is simply this: from the give and take of intensive activity associated with Neuhumanismus, two essentially different ways of organizing acquired know-how and principles emerged, with both having distinctive strengths and values, and over time these have spiraled around each other, somewhat like a double helix, but with a tendency at times to conflict. Let us concentrate here on identifying the modes of organization in these movements of thought in order to understand their interaction with each other and then to see what specifically happened as scholars founded the study of education in the United States, drawing important resources from their European peers and predecessors. To avoid unnecessary complications, let us pick a starting point and follow only the main developments that ensued relevant to the founding of American educational scholarship.
See Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, "The Plural Worlds of Educational Research," History of Education Quarterly, 29.2 (1989), 185-214, and Lagemann, An Elusive Science: The Troubling History of Education Research (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), esp. Chapter 2, pp. 41–70.
At the end of the 1790s, August Hermann Niemeyer (1754–1828) published his Principles of Education and Instruction in 3 volumes and starting in 1802, Friedrich Heinrich Christian Schwarz (1766–1837) followed with the first volume of Erziehungslehre, completing it with publication of the 4th volume in 1813. In 1806, a third educational theorist, Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841) published a slimmer, but equally important work, Allgemeine Pädagogik. These works formed the intellectual foundations for the study of education in German universities. In doing so, they set out two rather distinct paths for educational inquiry, one proceeding primarily through reflection on lived educational experience, (an historical-anthropological paradigm) and the other by deducing principles from the goals of education (an ethical-psychological paradigm). Here were the roots of the two potential paths for American educational research that our colleague, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, has shown John Dewey and Edward L. Thorndike to have set forth, the one diffusely and the other with clear effect. These two ways of thinking about education came to the United States in a condition of significant imbalance, which accounts substantially for why the history of education and related modes of inquiry have had a rather ancillary role in American educational scholarship.
See "Leben und Werk: Friedrich Heinrich Christian Schwarz" by Hans-Hermann Groothoff [?] in F. H. C. Schwarz, Lehrbuch der Erziehungs- und Unterrichtslehre (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1968), pp. 373–394, p. 374 for the quotation. Theodor Ballauff and Klaus Schaller present Schwarz's pedagogical work in the context of his times well in Vol. 2 of their Pädagogik pp. 552–563 and Niemeyer, pp. 530–535.
Early in the 19th century, the work of Niemeyer and Schwarz had great prestige. Adolph Diesterweg, the influential Prussian educator, called Schwarz and Niemeyer, "the Nestors of German pedagogy," and of the two, Diesterweg thought Niemeyer the more practical, but Schwarz the more important one, "deeper, many-sided." Both were scholars of genuine stature, fully the peers of more famed figures from their era such as Kant, Herder, Fichte, Hegel, or Schleiermacher. It is important in approaching their work to do so with some self-awareness, suspending the tendency in present-day academia to denigrate a preoccupation with education as a peripheral, second-rate intellectual commitment. The topic of education, of what people could and should make of themselves, stood at the center of serious cultural work. First-rate intellects addressed it, not by the mere historical accident, which arose frequently enough as one or another of them happened to serve as a tutor or a school teacher while struggling through his studies. Education was an important topic that no serious writer could wholly avoid and Niemeyer and Schwarz were the most respected writers to concentrate fully on it.
Niemeyer was a theologian and educational reformer, who spent most of his career at the University of Halle. His great uncle, August Hermann Francke, had founded in Halle an influential orphan asylum and associated schools early in the 18th century, which exerted considerable influence on educational practice and grew into a large, well-endowed complex. Niemeyer grew up in highly cultured surroundings and was at home throughout his life in the intellectual elite of the German world. Trained in theology and philology, he started publishing, at 21, an influential, multi-volumed theological study, Charakteristik der Bibel, the fifth volume of which appeared in 1782, the whole thereafter going through several later editions. At 23 he was appointed to teach theology and at 30 became ordinarius, a full professor, at the University of Halle, then one of the more progressive universities. Niemeyer was a leader among his academic colleagues, a strong voice against Napoleonic expansion, and as a result he was remanded to Paris in 1807 as a kind of intellectual hostage when the French occupiers closed the University of Halle. He became rector of it in 1808 on its reopening, serving in that role until 1816. In 1784 he had started a life-long administrative career in the Francke Stiftung, of which he proved to be a most effective leader.
See Niemeyer's "Überblick der allgemeinen Geschichte der Erziehung und des Unterrichts" in his Grundsätze der Erziehung und des Unterrichts (2nd ed., vol 3. Langensalza: Hermann Bener & Söhne, 1884) pp. 311–434, quotation, p. 357. In addition, in 1813, he published a compilation of sources on Greek and Roman educational theory, Originalstellen grieschischer und romischer Klassiker uber die Theorie der Erziehung und des Unterrichts.
In 1796, Niemeyer published his Grundsätze der Erziehung und des Unterrichts, which became a very popular book on education, valued for its warm humanity and the wealth of educational experience it communicated. Starting with the third edition in 1799, Niemeyer appended to it an overview of educational history, concentrating on the 18th century. To Niemeyer, his historical work was simply a start towards "a complete history of what, from earliest times up to our own, has been thought theoretically and done practically with respect to education and instruction, of the men who have had the most significant influence, of the institutions which have been dedicated to this end, of the literary works which have been written to this purpose. . . . The materials for the whole lie dispersed in the most heterogeneous writings." Niemeyer suggested that educators would find his outline informative and that presenting it might occasion further investigation and treatment of the subject.
Niemeyer, Grundsätze, p. 433.
Education cultivated the moral and functional autonomy of the real person living in real conditions, and to do that well one had to work at each part of the process effectively, ever alert to the relation of particulars to the whole endeavor. Hence Niemeyer concentrated on the principles of education, for by comprehending these, one would have the capacity to comprehend better how particular aspects of education related to the whole. For instance, in his historical section on the 18th century, the most fully developed section, he first spoke about the general principles of pedagogy being developed in school contexts and then turned to the way four different types of schools—those of religious orders, of German Humanists, of the Philanthropists, and finally of what he called the eclectic schools, popping up here and there. Although he did not develop his historical overview very fully, the way he approached topics in it suggests that he viewed the history of education as an opportunity to search out the principles of education as they operated in the real contexts of human experience and to learn how better to use such principles to understand the inter-working of pedagogical particulars in the whole of people's educations. Thus he ended his historical overview with a sustained reflection on the larger human meaning of good educational practices. "Head and heart, understanding and feeling in harmony—these constitute human fulfillment, happiness, and dignity." These were the goals with each student shaping sound school practices. Niemeyer had practical intentions, specifically addressing parents, tutors, and teachers but he did not aim to provide them with a set of readily applicable methods. Rather he wanted to cultivate their capacity to think "as educators." Hence, he introduced extensive annotations throughout his Grundsätze, giving readers access to regnant scholarship in classical and biblical philology, as well as cultural history. He wanted to engage readers in a process of inquiry, not to communicate a conclusive set of findings and methods.
See especially Niemeyer, Grundsätze, vol. 3, pp. 429–430.
Niemeyer based this undertaking on an important conception of the relation between history and education. Education took place in concrete situations in which an extremely complicated repertoire of developing personal capacities for both good and bad interacted with the manifold particulars of the surrounding cultural environment, which particulars were likewise an all-too-human mix of the constructive and the destructive. To be helpful in this process, the educator needed experience and insight, which one built up from three sources, first, from pedagogical introspection concerning one's own educational situation as it had unfolded in one's experience, second, from pedagogical reflection on the historical experience of the educational process that had been accumulated, observing how individuals and groups had, faced with diverse cultural configurations, succeeded and failed to make these conduce to their human development, and third, from pedagogical consideration of whatever other thinkers one could find who had thought deeply about educational experience, their own and that of others. Thus history was an essential source of knowledge for the educator. Basic pedagogical principles existed, but they could not be understood in the abstract, for they were principles that existed and functioned only in the full texture of historical life.
A few years later, Friedrich Heinrich Christian Schwarz started to fulfill Niemeyer's hope that the "Uberblick" might engender further efforts, for Schwarz wrote the first full and coherent history of education in German. Like Niemeyer, Schwarz was both theologian and educational reformer, the first Protestant theologian at the University of Heidelberg and he founded there a successful seminar for teachers. He acquired extensive experience as a pastor, teacher, and professor; he possessed learning, both deep and broad; he had a mind at once clear, deeply religious, open, suffused with a simple optimism about human potentiality. In 1804 Schwarz became a theology professor at the University of Heidelberg, where for many years he ran the pädagogische Seminar, which for the first ten years or so met jointly with the philology seminar. In 1808 he spent some time visiting and working with Pestalozzi, whose pedagogy he greatly respected, albeit with some reservation for its excessive reliance on method. Schwarz was a person not entirely free of the Biedermeier sentiments so strong in Raumer, but one whose religious beliefs were fully integrated into his commitment to thoughtful inquiry and intellect. He died in 1837, after having, from 1834, served briefly as the successor to Schleiermacher at the University of Berlin. Schwarz left behind a variety of theological writings and the most respected treatises on education at the time, works of very substantial scholarship.
For this and the following two paragraphs, see F. H. C. Schwarz, Erziehungslehre (3 vols. Leipzig: Georg Joachim Göschen, 1829), vol. 1, pp. 4–41. See also, Theodor Ballauff and Klaus Schaller, Pädagogik, esp. pp. 559.
Schwarz fully stated his pedagogical views in Erziehungslehre, originally published between 1802 and 1813, and then in a somewhat reworked 1829 edition. This version began with an 1100 page volume on the Geschichte der Erziehung, which Schwarz intended as foundation for the whole work. By current standards, the historical substance of his coverage was quite thin, for he had few predecessors upon whose work he could build. But he was seeking to make history an effective way to ground and nurture pedagogical thinking. He tried to touch on everything—India, China, the ancient world, medieval and modern Europe. He sought to find and understand differences, to explore how practice linked with purpose, and to set the reader thinking by showing how different educators differed from and with each other. Schwarz thought that a sound theory of education should be based on a historical foundation, on the cumulative educational experience of mankind, in which the "Geschichte der Erziehungsidee," the idea of education, was essential. The history was not to be the history of educational ideas in their multiplicity, but of one idea, the idea of education. The human capacity to educate had unfolded in history as people had acted, generation after generation, in manifold concrete situations, guided by the idea of education. What the achievements and possibilities wrought with reference to this idea might eventually be were never immediately manifest to anyone.
Possibilities inhering in the idea of education would endlessly unfold. To bring an optimal repertory of these possibilities to bear in educational effort, to define the problems of education and to extend and improve the work of education, people needed to engage the idea of education historically, to reflect on the sum of activity that had been guided by it. People could learn to think "as educators" by thinking about past educational experience, not to find in it repeatable methods, but to develop the insight and skill to interpret educational possibilities in complicated, concrete situations of life. The history of education did more, for Schwarz, than illustrate sound and unsound methods; it did more than inspire educators with professional pride. The history of education empowered people to think and act educationally; it enabled people to grasp the range of educational possibilities that had been given life and to realize that any further possibilities to be achieved would be done as further extensions of educational history. Schwarz tried to touch on all the different times and peoples, refraining from from saying that this was good and that was bad, instead giving something of a conceptual framework for thinking about forms of historical experience in education, social reproduction, emerging efforts to understand the child as a potentially autonomous being, and more fully developed conceptions of education that did not simply end in freedom, but worked with it throughout the educational experience of each person. For Schwarz, educating took place in history and was to be studied through history and one had to be careful not to impose ideas external to the history in trying to understand it.
Like Niemeyer, Schwarz thought that history was the source of knowledge from which the educator could gain real insight into his endeavor. Men did not discover or derive the idea of education from reflection or speculation, from acquired knowledge or science. The idea of education was implicit, inherent in the human condition. The possible concretizations of the idea of education have come into being, not through thought alone, but through human experience, through thoughtful action. Pedagogical surprise will always be possible, and the full potentiality of the idea of education will come only when the history of man's self-creation has reached a completion in eternity. We are ever on the way, creating ourselves anew, and the end cannot be known, only past achievements can at best be understood, to be drawn on creatively in our own task of self-creation. It was insufficient to turn to the history of education simply to draw inspiration for a predetermined course:
F. H. C. Schwarz, Erziehungslehre, vol 1, p. 7.
In its scope and depth, education is a task whose completion lies in infinity. It began with humanity and can only reach a level of perfection when mind and spirit reach complete fulfillment. Man can raise the idea of education only to the height to which he is educated, or better, only to the height to which his education enables him, through the full depth of his being, to indicate what a further elevation of humanity over himself would require. For that, a history of education serves two uses. First, at any time it precisely indicates the level at which humanity stands. Second, it shows, not simply that history teaches about the past, but also, submitting everything to reflection, that it yields new insight into present educational activity. Here the case inescapably arises: history can directly become an expositor of truth and a teacher of formative education.
See Schwarz, Erziehungslehre, vol. 2, pp. 3-9
See Schwarz, Erziehungslehre, vol. 3, pp. 259-310
Schwarz gave a significant start to historical pedagogy, an effort to form a sound theory of education by means of thorough inquiry into the history of education and careful reflection on the results of this inquiry. Such a history of education was more than an ancillary specialty within the broader, university level study of education; reflective inquiry into the historical experience of Bildung, education, and instruction provided the grounding for the academic study of education. Through education, human persons, living under specific historical conditions, acquired the particular resources of body and mind requisite for self-determination through the course of life. To facilitate that process in the lived experience of other persons, educators needed to develop skill in perceiving human potentialities across wide diversities, the sum of which constituted the character of the human community, and to understand how different conditions affecting different persons could make the outcome of well-practiced procedures in some cases predictable and in some cases not. Educating was an art, a skill, which thoughtful cultivation could develop, even though it could not be reduced to a set of methods applicable with predictable results. With such views, Niemeyer and Schwarz wrote long texts on education and instruction. In these, they took into account numerous particulars within a practical framework. For education, Schwarz used the developmental course, physical and intellectual, and the numerous exceptions to it occurring among a collection of individuals, as the framework, and the educator needed to learn to work with the autonomous child, to facilitate his or her movement along it. For instruction, Schwarz used the broad scope and sequence of curricular studies appropriate in different types of schools and educational situations, not to propound favored methods for use in all its parts, but to discuss the types of interaction between instruction and education that would arise along the way. Schwarz, who could craft a tight phrase, expressed the concept of education, "Die Erziehung is die sich entwickelnde Menschheit", "Education is humanity, self-developing." He then went on for a page or so, unpacking the phrase, and then turned for several pages to indicating the role conditions played and the difficulty of understanding how the particularity of those would interact with the particularity of each person's potentials. In his third volume, Schwarz concentrated on the concept of instruction, indicating that instruction was good insofar as it worked towards the goals of education in the sense indicated in the previous volume. His idea of instruction aimed, not to cause learning as it might show up in the scores generated by cohorts of students, but as it might be appropriated by each student, person by person. His concluding part on Paedeutics, showed how instruction had simultaneously to be pedagogical and serve the individual child well, political and serve a people, a folk, as a collectivity well, and cosmopolitan and serve humanity as a whole well.
Herbart and Herbartianism: an Educational Ghost Story by Harold B. Dunkel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970) is a far better introduction to Herbart and his work than the many American and English books written in the end of the 19th century or the beginning to the 20th by Herbartians. Curiously, owing to the vagaries of copyright law, many of the latter are being reprinted or are available for free on the web, while Dunkel's book is out of print.
A few years after the first edition of Erziehungslehre began to appear, Johann Friedrich Herbart, published his Allgemeine Pädagogik, a very different book. Herbart stood in contrast to Niemeyer and Schwarz. He was born in 1776, and had a precocious childhood and a good gymnasial education, which ld to the University of Jena where he became for a time an enthusiastic student of Fichte. Herbart soon turned away from Fichte's idealism and strong use of transcendental freedom by granting real objects a determining role in the shaping of reason than was usual in post-Kantian philosophy, developing modern realism thereby. At 20, Herbart became tutor in a Swiss family, an experience at which he was highly successful and from which his educational ideas developed, expressed in initial educational publications at the turn of the century. In 1802 he completed his doctorate in philosophy and started university teaching, and began in earnest his prolific career publishing a steady series of works in education, philosophy, and psychology. As a practitioner in education, Herbart thought Homer's Odyssey was a work of great usefulness. As a think, he had a liking for concision and rigor of a mathematical sort. Herbart was a successful German professor, called in 1809 to assume the chair Kant had held at Königsberg. There, he increasingly concentrated on developing his psychological ideas through philosophical reflection, not the sorts of experimentation to become popular later in the century. At Königsberg, Herbart also developed a pedagogical seminar, which was important, but not as well-known as those of Niemeyer and Schwarz.
Jean Paul [Richter], Levana: Or, The Doctrine of Education (London: G. Bell, 1891).
Allgemeine Pädagogik is short, whereas the works of Niemeyer and Schwarz were long. Herbart's text reflected his literary style—hard-edged, conveying a sense that he was right and the views of others were generally not worth discussing, whereas those of Niemeyer and Schwarz were copious and generous in their references to the work of others. In his "Preface" to the second edition of Levana, Jean Paul Richter displayed his charming style in acknowledging Herbart's book as one of four that he had recently read: "In the Allgemeine Pädagogik of Herbart the beautiful language beguiling with brilliancy and charms cannot, however, divert the wish that he had not used the title-privilege 'universal' so universally, and carried it throughout, so that the reader is obliged to fill in the too spacious forms with supplementary contents. In a philosopher, if he be a teacher, one finds often enough, to be sure, only the polar star which, it is true, serves well for a long voyage round the world, but not for a short one in the world. . . ." Richter touched on two matters that had eventual historical significance. First, Herbart left a lot to be filled in within the interstices of his principles. Somewhat unusually within the ambit of Neuhumanismus, Herbart's ideas were strongly teacher-centered, as distinct from child-centered. Most of Herbart's peers started with the assumption of an inalienable autonomy in each person from birth on, with education consisting then in efforts to anticipate the student's willed actions and reactions. Herbart held that will to be, not the condition of the teacher's work, but the key fruit of it. Herbart advanced these ideas leaving a lot of room for later interpreters to fill them out, which they eventually did, and since those who filled them out were less many-sided thinkers, they did so by elaborating Herbart's reflections into a far more systematized set of methods by which teachers could deliver a Herbartian program of instruction, often with more fidelity than understanding.
See Johann Friedrich Herbart, J. F. Herbart's kleinere philosophische Schriften und Abhandlungen (Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1843) pp. 744-775 for the text of the review. Cited hereafter as Herbart, "Review of Schwarz," Kleinere Schriften.
Herbart, "Review of Schwarz," Kleinere Schriften, pp. 745-6.
This review showed the Herbart of the Herbartians in operation and for our purposes here, to understand important characteristics of thinking about education structured into American educational scholarship, it is the Herbart of the Herbartians that has great importance. Present-day scholars in Germany, such as Dietrich Benner, working as practitioners of historical pedagogy, are showing that Herbart's educational ideas were actually more many-sided and complex than the Herbartian presentation of them. Herbartianism, however, not Herbart, stamped the enterprise of American educational scholarship. See Dietrich Benner, Die Pädagogik Herbarts: Eine problemgeschichtliche Einführung in die Systematik neuzeitlicher Pädagogik, 2nd. ed. (Weinheim: Juventa Verlag, 1986), and Dietrich Benner, ed., Johann Friedrich Herbart Systematische Pädagogik (2 vols., Weinheim: Deutscher Studien Verlag, 1997).
Richter's second point suggested that Herbart's influence might be slow in coming, which proved prescient. By formal criteria, Herbart pursued a successful career, but there was not much warmth or recognition attached to his success. His ideas seemed a bit idiosyncratic and his tone unfriendly. With respect to other educators, Herbart broke away from his aloofness in 1831 with a long review of the 2nd edition of Schwarz's Erziehungslehre. Herbart took it to task on methodological grounds, a critique that was not very influential at the time, but one that is instructive about the tensions affecting the ensuing development of historical pedagogy and the methodological grounding of the study of education in the United States. It is interesting that according to the brief biography for Schwarz in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, his mother followed the educational ideas of Locke and Rousseau so that, until he went to the gymnasium, he learned with a great deal of autonomy, whereas Herbart, after near death from an accident as an infant, had an intensively managed childhood and a great deal of early instruction. As educator, Schwarz assumed the autonomy of each person's will and sought to work with and through it, whereas Herbart believed that education was possible only by virtue of the person's Bildsamkeit, his plasticity, an assumption shared with Fichte, "an assumption without which no educator can tackle his work." With this "first postulate" firmly in mind, all pedagogues then ask a double question: "first, for what should the pupil be formed? second, through what means? Consequently, pedagogy calls for help on one side from ethics and on the other from psychology." Herbart began and ended his review by stating his conviction that education uses instruction to shape each new born human, helpless without a will, but plastic, receptive of forming influence, to become an autonomous person in the mold of his upbringing. The two systematic disciplines were helpful in constructing a sound pedagogy for this task: ethics, which gave guidance concerning educational ends, and psychology, which helped determine sound educative means. This in a nutshell was Herbartianism, voiced by the master in rather ill-tempered opposition to Schwarz.
Herbart, "Review of Schwarz," Kleinere Schriften, p. 748.
Herbart, "Review of Schwarz," Kleinere Schriften, p. 760.
Herbart recognized, very grudgingly at times, that Schwarz had something to contribute to both pedagogical ethics and psychology, but contended that the usefulness of these contributions was marred by the empirical density of Erziehungslehre, with its extensive historical inquiry that often "contributes neither to the resolution nor even to the illumination of present-day pedagogical questions." Herbart found that Schwarz not only spent precious time with irrelevant matters, but that Schwarz was often insufficiently critical where matters were relevant, that he did not explain past errors in the light of later findings clearly enough. It was not that Schwarz was uncritical of past pedagogical thinkers, but that he explained their failings historically, when, in Herbart's view, "the deficiencies of previous sepeculative knowledge largely bore the guilt. " For Schwarz, one turned to history to understand and interpret the manifold ways in which the human will, striving for autonomous self-definition, interacted with conditions created by the facticity of the world and the opacity of human actions impinging from without. For Herbart one turned to history for illustrations of what results when people act upon principles that the observer knows independently to be correct or incorrect.
Herbart, "Review of Schwarz," Kleinere Schriften, pp. 769–770.
Herbart and Schwarz basically disagreed over the function of educational history within the study of education. Both recognized education to be a practical endeavor that could never be reduced to a closed, internally consistent, abstract system. Both recognized that some kind of coherence in the complicated texture of educational experience should be sought. Herbart suggested, however that they disagreed over the intellectual source of that coherence. "Pedagogy is a practical science in which it is important that one recognize the continuity of its development so that no unnecessary mistrust of it works against it. The continuity that is important for pedagogy, however, is not so much the historical, but the psychological. For pedagogy, however, there is a different continuity that is still more important for it than any historical continuity, namely, the psychological." Herbart welcomed a useful history of education, but he criticized Schwarz's for excessive detail and scope, which would divert the attention of the practical educator from more important matters, and he suggested that Schwarz failed to make his history as practically useful as it might have been had he been more active in turning past practice into exempla of psychologically sound and unsound procedures. For Schwarz, education was a human activity that unfolded in history and had ultimately to be understood through history, without reference to suprahistorical constructs valid for all times and places; for Herbart, in contrast, ethics and psychology, properly pursued by speculative reason, could yield a suprahistorical pedagogical knowledge, which then could be applied to history to demonstrate its relevance and value for the present. Herbart's criticisms would have marked effects on German students of education and educational history, and through them on the founding of educational scholarship in the United States.
7. What was Barnard thinking?
These changes—the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the industrial revolution, the struggle to correlate the state with the nation—perturbed the optimistic foundations for self-reliant self-cultivation. Traditional households had a Janus-faced unity, serving internal and external functions simultaneously, both the site of outward activity—work, the interaction with public authority—and of internal support—day-to-day routines, bearing and rearing children, sociability. Increasingly, people were occupying two independent realms: an important external world for work and civic engagement in office, factory, and public spaces counterbalanced by an increasingly private home, a remnant after the economic and political functions of the household had been wrenched away into public space. From the early 1800s on, the European bourgeoisie imposed upon itself a more cautious, self-repressive sensibility, familiar in its Anglo-American variant as Victorianism and its German as Biedermeier.
German History: 1770–1866 by James J. Sheehan explains the term Biedermeier well (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 535–542). The quotation from Stern is from Idylls and Realities: Studies in Nineteenth-Century German Literature (London and Southhampton, 1971) p. 148. As we think about education as "deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke, or acquire knowledge, attitudes, skills, values, or sensibilities, and any learning that results from the effort, direct or indirect, intended or unintended," Ben Wilson's recent book, The Making of Victorian Values: Decency and Dissent in Britain: 1789–1837 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2007) is a very interesting history written for the general public.
Overall, this was an indoor world, which was often portrayed by contemporary artists in the evening, when the lamplight could be used to provide a warm, diffuse glow to people and things. The Biedermeier was a comfortable, cosy style, perhaps best captured in one of this characteristic terms, Gemütlichkeit, which J. P. Stern defines as a "curious and unique configuration of time-honoured habits, rich meals, ancient or at least old-fashioned furniture, solid broadcloth and solid moral maxims . . .".
Some of us of a certain age will have experienced in childhood the remnants of Biedermeier as we curled up in a thickly upholstered living-room chair after a long Thanksgiving dinner with a few family and friends to read reassuring stories in the Saturday Evening Post with all the appropriate sentiments visualized on its Norman Rockwell cover.
In 1843, Karl von Raumer published the first two parts of his Geschichte der Pädagogik, a typical Biedermeier book, and a few years later he followed it with Die Erziehung der Mädchen, which epitomized the Biedermeier ideas about womanhood. Let us consider it briefly for it gives a sense of the pedagogical reaction that had taken place, and exemplifies a style of educational history that would have influence in the United States. Raumer began his short treatise satirically criticizing efforts to educate girls to be fashionable, and then he turned to his own views, starting with a paean to marriage, emphasizing the responsibility of the father to take an active part in educating his daughters through the home. "Girls belong to their own families; family life is their school; their own father is the normal father, their own mother the normal mother; such is the ordinance of God. The older girls, in assisting their mothers in housekeeping, in teaching the younger children, &c., learn in the simplest and most natural way what they will subsequently need to know, as housewives; without being pedantically and coarsely instructed about their future duties as mothers. . . ." Raumer continued with advice about how to avoid defects in home life that would miseducate girls and he then turned to a key division, "Religious and moral culture," addressing many enumerated topics, number 17 among them being, "Relations of the sexes":
If girls ask, . . . how do little children come? they may be told, that the good God gives the little child to the mother, and that its guardian angel is in heaven, . . . but that they, the inquirers, need not know, and can not understand, how God gives the children. . . . The mother's duty in this particular is, to keep her daughter's thoughts so fully occupied with what is good and beautiful, that she will have no leisure for curiosity about such matters. A mother whose mental authority over her child is what it ought to be, will only need to say once, seriously, "It would not be well for you to know about it; you must avoid hearing it spoken of." . . . That girl is fortuante whose mind remains a genuinely childlike mind until she becomes married.
See Karl von Raumer, Education of Girls, in Henry Barnard, ed., True student life: Letters, essays, and thoughts on studies and conduct; addressed to young persons by men eminent in literature and affairs (Hartford: The American Journal of Education, 1873), pp. 295–367; quotations from pp. 307, 325, 335, and 335-6. Making of America (accessed 1 October 2007).
After a long section on the pedagogical value of holiday celebrations, Raumer arrived at the next substantial division, "Household occupations, higher culture," in which the latter was carefully modulated to complement the former. "A Christian and educated housewife, whose judicious and patiently efficient industry proclaims itself in but few words . . . ; whose virtues and talents render her home a more pleasant and peaceful spot to her husband than any other; who trains up her children in Christian simplicity and piety . . . ;—such a housewife should be the ideal result sought for by female education." And a bit below, "Culture, in young women, should never develop into learning; for then it ceases to be delicate feminine culture. A young woman can not and ought not to plunge with the obstinate and persevering strength of a man into scientific pursuits. . . . Only an entirely unwomanly young woman could try to become thoroughly learned, in a man's sense of the term; and she would try in vain, for she has not the mental faculties of man."
If a single theme runs through Raumer's counsel about the education of girls, it is the primacy of the father's role, combined with the duty of the mother to follow his lead, with both together creating educative surroundings filled with a carefully controlled version of the culture, replete with that which is best in it after its pernicious elements have been carefully edited out. Throughout, Raumer voices an imperative: daughters, throughout their educations, should encounter only edifying influences. Raumer was the paternalist throughout, selecting out everything that might be unsuitable. For instance, Goethe was clear a German classic to be included, but only his safer work, with the result that Goethe frequently says his lines on Raumer's pages, always sounding serene, sentimental, uplifting, and safe, but the Faustian side is unwelcome. As Raumer neared his conclusion, he wrote about recreations. After the little ones had gone to bed at 6:00 and those not yet fully grown up at 8:00, parents and older children would relax together, perhaps with family friends as well. "This is the time for conversation, music and reading. The father may read aloud the greatest masterpieces of Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare, &c.; and particularly such as the girls ought not to read for themselves, because they contain passages which should be omitted." The good father, ever vigilant and caring, will read the great masterpieces, and voice aloud what is left on passing over all that others ought not read for themselves. Here, in a nutshell, was Raumer's method operative in writing his history of pedagogy.
See Karl von Raumer, Geschichte der Pädagogik (Stuttgart: Verlag von Sam. Gottl. Liesching, Vol. 1, 2nd. ed., 1846; Vol. 2, 2nd ed., 1847; Vol. 3, 1847; and Vol. 4, 1854) These, along with later reprints, can be accessed through Google Books.
Raumer's History of Pedagogy strongly reflected these commitments. It grew to four volumes, the first two consisting of compact biographies of influential educators, starting with Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch, continuing through the Pantheon of major pedagogues, ending with Pestalozzi. In his third volume, he surveyed historical examples of good instruction in the major branches of the school curriculum as he evaluated practice exemplified in a selective history of schools and teaching. The fourth volume, which appeared some years later, was really a separate book on the History of German Universities. In it he looked at university development from the 14th into the 19th centuries, taking Halle, Göttingen, and Breslau as his main examples, followed by an overview of characteristic academic practices. The first two volumes read as a collection of separate essays. Great men lurch upon the stage, each in his individuality, and the coherence of the whole story derived, not from Raumer's capacity to explain the interconnections, but from the consistent pattern of evaluation that he applied to each figure with whom he dealt. Each oriented his work according to some pedagogical ideal, but what really interested Raumer was the resulting repertoire of practice for he held that even those pursuing dangerous ideals could hit upon worthwhile principles of practice. He summed up this repertoire in the third volume, and the work as a whole reflects an important change from the view of historical life held by Schleiermacher and his colleagues. To them historical life was the experiential ground for human creativity and the study of experience generated through it was an arena of inquiry into the open-ended question of what people could and should make of themselves. One wrote history in order to make sense of a contingent life and world and to construe what might be possible within it. In contrast, Raumer had a definite set of convictions, developed not from his study of history, but brought to his study of it.
See the entry in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol 27, pp. 403-414, for a full overview of Friedrich von Raumer's life by Franz Xaver von Wegele. For Karl von Raumer, see the entry, Ibid., pp. 420-423, by Wilhelm von Gümbel, and the more recent entry in the Biographisch-Bibliographischen Kirchenlexikons, Vol. VII, pp. 1405–1408, by Ulrich Schwab.
Karl von Raumer was a mineralogist by profession who in his youth become intensely interested in Pestalozzi. Thereafter, he achieved considerably more success as a writer on education than as a professor of natural history. He was a patriot who fought against Napoleon and as he matured his cast of mind, reflecting his time, became increasingly committed to a conservative, rather fundamentalist Lutheranism. Raumer's older brother, Friedrich, was a successful jurist and academic historian. He was a distinguished professor of political science at the University of Berlin from 1819 until he served as a conservative member of the Frankfurt Parliament in 1848. He wrote objective, well-documented political histories of law, statecraft, and politics in Europe since the 15th century and was the exponent of historical probity until Leopold von Ranke supplanted him in that role. Karl von Raumer's introduction to his History of Pedagogy is especially interesting when read with some knowledge of what his brother stood for. In it, Raumer explicitly acknowledged the principles of an scholarly historiography. Readers normally expected an objective presentation from a historian, he observed, especially a presentation "free from love and hate." Objective history required the historian to refrain from expressing his personal opinions about the actions he sought to explain. But reader be warned, Karl von Raumer would have none of that. "Free from love and hate am I not, nor will I be; I will by my best knowledge and scruple hate evil and adhere to the good, just as I call neither the sweet sour nor the sour sweet." Raumer's History of Pedagogy was full of explicit judgments of right and wrong handed down on past practitioners, judgments sometimes about pedagogical worth, more often about moral and theological rectitude, or the lack of such. Luther's doctrines provided the foundations of good practice; secularizing pedagogues such as Montaigne or Basedow merited wary recognition for the advances in practice they might have made; and Rousseau, close to the anti-Christ in Raumer's view, should be studied with the utmost caution.
Of the 100 aphorisms in Lessing's Education of the Human Race, one of the founding documents of Neuhumanismus, the 4th had gone as follows:
Para. 4 in "The Education of the Human Race" (1870) by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, in Lessing, Philosophical and Theological Writings (H. B. Nisbet, trans., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 218.
Education gives the individual nothing which he could not also acquire by himself; it merely gives him what he could acquire by himself, but more quickly and more easily. Thus revelation likewise gives the human race nothing which human reason, left to itself, could not also arrive at; it merely gave it, and gives it, the most important of these things sooner.
At the end of the third volume of his History of Pedagogy, Raumer summed up the first three volumes by harkening back to Lessing's work in a declaration that had a Lessing-like aphoristic ring:
Karl von Raumer, Geschichte der Pädagogik, Vol. 3, pp. 251-2.
God is the educator of the human race; from Him and for Him is man created; the beginning, progress, and perfection of humanity is God's work. Let the educator know: for his human work to endure, he must look to God's work, to the Godly "education of the human race."
In short, Raumer's work was a major example of the reaction against the concern for the self-determination of historical life. Molding humans in the image of god, made possible through divine revelation, replaced the human self-education, the making of themselves what they could and should become, prized in the new humanism. The paternal historian was reading the great masterpieces with due diligence, writing to suppress what others ought not read for themselves. He did it by concentrating narrowly on the specific instructional practices developed by the tradition of humanistic education that stretched from the Renaissance to the early 1800s, accumulating the practices and deciding whether to let the associated purposes shine through by judging those against his understanding of their theological orthodoxy. The chief test was the degree to which a pedagogue upheld the doctrine of original sin.
See "Progress of Educational Development" by Karl von Raumer, American Journal of Education, Vol. VIII, Hartford: F. C. Brownell, 1860, p. 216.
We have seen to what absurd conclusions Rousseau was pushed by this unchristian premise [that man is by nature good]; to what unnatural views, by his constant reference to nature; to what sophistries, by his attempt to show that all wickedness is first implanted in the child, originally as pure as an angel, by adult persons. Luther's sound and healthy pedagogy is precisely the opposite of Rousseau's. The comparison of the two must convince any one that the division of educators into Pelagian and anti-Pelagian is a fundamental one, and of the greatest practical importance.
Among the writers contributing to Neuhumanismus, few founded their expectations about human potentiality on the intervention of God's grace as the only means to avoid the doom of original sin. For the most part, following Rousseau, they were deeply Pelagian, taking as a starting point the hypothesis that insofar as humans are capable of the good, they are capable of it without the intervention of divine grace. Raumer's history was diametrically opposed to their efforts and ideas. In 1857, Henry Barnard started publishing translations of Raumer's four volumes on the history of pedagogy, and his treatise on the education of girls, in the American Journal of Education, a journal which stands, along with Horace Mann's Reports, as the foundation of educational scholarship in the United States. In German, Raumer's Geschichte had little influence, for it stood in a line of historical scholarship in which works before and after it were clearly less tendentious and more substantial. In English, Raumer's influence was great. Barnard published translations of historical materials, but nothing on the scale of what he published by Raumer. Within the American Journal of Education, the provenance of everything Barnard published was confused and jumbled, each volume a large pot purri of diverse materials from which readers might fish morsels to their taste.
Within the jumble of Barnard's journal, Raumer's work had enough form and substance for others to go back to it as a ground for further inquiry. For them, it would exemplify work hostile to important educational aspirations in the European heritage in two ways. On the substantive level, it conveyed outright hostility to views expressing strong optimism about human educability without intervention by a deus ex machina. And on a methodological level, it exemplified a way of using history, not as a source from which understanding of human options could be intelligibly developed, but as a copious collection of exempla with which truth, derived by other means, might better be exposited to those who were less mature and more naive. We have already encountered a variant of this methodological outlook in Cremin's interpretation of John Herman Randall's theory of history. The historian cannot find sound explanations for historical events immanent in the historical experience but must look to a body of theory derived from elsewhere, in Cremin's case, not from Luther, but "from George Herbert Mead and John Dewey in philosophy, Ruth Benedict and Ralph Linton in anthropology, Gordon Allport and Gardner Murphy in psychology, Talcott Parsons and Robert K. Merton in sociology, and Arthur F. Bentley and David B. Truman in political science, among others." The historian then describes the stuff of history as examples, in this case, of the interactionist conception of education that Cremin based upon this eclectic collection of ideas.
We can rest assured that this methodological practice did not come to Cremin direct from Raumer. But it is an understanding of good method that developed and spread through the 19th century by those who did not share Raumer's continuing faith in divine grace, but who did think it improbable that humans could educate themselves through an immanent understanding of their engagement with their surroundings. They wanted to find a way to generate valid direction from a source guaranteed by something external to human self-reflection.
8. Why did Zarathrustra speak?
9. What did Rein do?
Harold B. Dunkel, Herbart and Herbartianism; an Educational Ghost Story (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970) and Dunkel, Herbart & Education (New York: Random House, 1969).
As we have seen from Diesterweg's obituary, at his death in 1837, Schwarz had immense prestige and influence among German educators. A few years later, at his death, Herbart was not an unknown, but he was not someone recognized as a major influence on educational thought or practice. His prestige grew substantially through the century, however, while that of Schwarz and Niemeyer waned. Howard Dunkel has given a good account of the transformation of Herbart's thought into Herbartianism, explaining the broad outlines of its effect on American education scholarship. Little work in the history of education appeared in which there was a powerful effort to develop an understanding of educational purposes and practices immanent in past experience that reflective interpretation might draw out for current contemplation. Instead, many educational historians busily worked ammassing information about the educational past to be used primarily as exempla of practices deemed good or bad. Textbooks were written; source collections were published; and diverse specialized studies were conducted by various groups and individuals. All this activity fit well with the Herbartian idea that the history of education should be available as an instructional aid for systemmatic pedagogy, illustrating sound and unsound developments for prospective educators. Late in the century all these findings were brought back again into a mammoth synthesis under the direction of K.A. Schmid in Geschichte der Erziehung vom Anfang an bis auf unsere Zeit. With this work the encyclopedic culmination of the early German history of education was unmistakable, for Schmid's Geschichte really presented in chronological format, materials that Schmid was simultaneously developing for the ten volume Encyklopadie des gesammten Erziehungs- und Unterrichtswesens, which was published at the same time. Both parts of the enterprise, the Geschichte and the Encyklopadie reflected the conviction that what practical educators needed was not historical inquiry into education, but access to historical knowledge about education. A vast range of information was given, with little effort by the historians to engender interpretative reflection on it. No pedagogical hermeneutics was going on, generating new insight into the possibilities of education, for generating knowledge about education was thought to be the work of systematic pedagogy, not historical pedagogy.
Compare Schwarz, Erziehungslehre, vol. 1, p. xiii, to Wilhelm Rein, Pädagogik in systematischer Darstellung (3rd. ed., Langensalza: Hermann Beyer & Söhne, 1927) vol. 1, p. 70.
Late in the century, the last and most influential of the German Herbartians, Wilhelm Rein, gave a clear, pointed statement of the relation of historical and systematic pedagogy. Rein systematized the tradition of Herbartian pedagogy, edited the Encyklopadisches Hanbduch der Pädagogik and wrote a three-volume Padagogik in systematischer Darstellung among many other works. These were the fulfillment of nineteenth-century German educational science. Although not an historian of education, his conception of educational history took Herbart's complaints about the work of Schwarz to their logical conclusion, and his views had substantial influence on the structure of educational scholarship founded in the United States and England. In both his book and his plan for the encyclopedic handbook, Rein divided pedagogy into two parts, the systematic and the historical. The table displaying his conception is rather comical: all positive knowledge pertinent to education was organized under the heading of systematic pedagogy; historical pedagogy was an equivalent division which Rein left completely empty, for he held that however informative it may be, it yielded no positive knowledge. In explaining this conception in the Padagogik, Rein quoted, without acknowledging it, from the "Preface" to the second edition of Erziehungslehre, where Schwarz explained why he put the big volume of educational history at the start of the whole work: "I am putting the history of education first for the simple reason that we first must see what has happened up to now and how we have been brought to our present Bildung before we can know what we have to do in order to form and educate our children well." Rein introduced these words saying that they represent a still widely held opinion and followed them unequivocally: "We hold this sequence to be false."
For Rein exactly the opposite was true. To write history well, the historian had to master systematic, scientific pedagogy first, before looking at the past, for only then could the historian judge rightly what he found in the past, for only then would the historian have the knowledge needed to discriminate soundly between what was right and wrong in past practice. In language not unlike Cremin's, Rein declared that "one must first have acquired through speculation and experience a solid, all-around theory before the history of previous efforts can be studied with success." Without such a theory grounded in the systematic study of education and a rigorous ethics and psychology, the student will lack "the standard by which previous efforts can be judged." Without such a grounding, the student will be discouraged by the complexity of educational history and will fall into an "unprincipled eclecticism." It is different for those who seek to create for themselves an entirely grounded standpoint through ethics and psychology—"for them history will then really be able to be a veracious teacher." One could not imagine a much more authoritative rationale for the characteristic weaknesses in the early history of education written in English, both their historical weaknesses and their educational weaknesses. Late 19th-century German pedagogy assigned this role to the history of education and those who founded American schools of education adopted it for their work. Herbartian psychology could loose its credibility as the whole system of pedagogical study was coming across the Atlantic and into American universities, but that was inessential, for the overall structure of roles that different studies were to play in the whole system remained in force. The architecture of the overall effort was what took hold and as more scientifically rigorous psychological programs displaced the Herbartian psychology in it, the role of psychology and of history remained the same, psychology would be the source of knowledge about the means of education and history would be the illustrator of good and bad practice as determined by suprahistorical standards.
10. What truth has meaning?
Kloppenberg notes in Uncertain Victory (p. 29) that William James was unusual in even meeting Dilthey, who was not socially outgoing.
Let us take stock of our argument. We set out in search of Schleiermacher, curious about an alternative to Bailyn's belief that scholars in schools of education would necessarily write anachronistic, foreshortened history illustrating the current norms of their profession. We have found that in writing the kind of history American educators wrote, they were not spontaneously exhibiting a necessary professional reflex, but were rather conforming to a role and norm they held to be authoritative. We have seen that this Herbartian idea of how to use history had neither been the only alternative nor had it always been in force. In the educational practice of Neuhumanismus, the history of education performed a different, more productive function in educating educators. One might object, however, that the waxing of Herbartianism in the nineteenth century, and the waning of the Schwarzian alternative to it, shows that indeed the Herbartian role for educational history is in the end a necessary professional reflex. That conclusion faces one problem, however. Precisely at the time that the Herbartian model was crossing the Atlantic, German educators were resuscitating the historically grounded alternative to it, something again largely missed by American visitors to the German world of academe.
Wilhelm Dilthey, "Über die Möglichkeit einer Allgemeingültigen Pädadodischen Wissenschaft" in Dilthey, Gesammelte Schriften (Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner Verlagsgessschaft, 1962), vol. vi, pp. 56-82.
An excellent study of Diltehy's pedagogy and its resonance is Die Pädagogik Wilhelm Diltheys: Ihr wissenschaaftstheoretischer Ansatz in Diltheys Theories der Geisteswissenschaften by Ulrich Herrmann (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971).
In 1888, Wilhelm Dilthey published an important article "On the Possibility of a Universally Valid Pedagogical Science" in the Proceedings of the Prussian Academy of Science. Dilthey addressed the Herbartian program for the development of sound pedagogy directly. He noted, and accepted, the general practice of basing pedagogy on ethics and psychology, contesting instead the intellectual character of both fields: for Dilthey, all ethical purposes were historically conditioned, as was all psychological analysis. Although Herbart correctly began with the pupil's Bildsamkeit, his plasticity, for Dilthey this susceptibility to formative influence was not something that arose from the absence, at the origin, of any will. Bildsamkeit came instead from the teleological character of all life, which from its first origins differentiated life from inert matter. As an active, teleological being, the pupil, however inchoate, would act adaptively upon every external and internal stimulus, exercising an autonomous will in collaboration with which, under concrete circumstances, the educator had to work. In short, Dilthey reasserted the view, so predominant in Neuhumanismus, that all educating worked through the self-educating efforts of persons and groups to fulfill their capacities for self-determination within the constraints of their lived experiential conditions. In doing so, Dilthey made a powerful case for the importance of historical reflection in the development of pedagogical thinking on the part of would-be educators. His understanding of pedagogical knowledge had extensive influence in German educational scholarship and practice through the Weimar period, and it is regaining much strength after having been seriously weakened in the Hitler era.
Dilthey is a great, difficult source of reflection on the human awareness of life. For him, humans were many-sided; they were purposeful, thinking actors in the world. Observers had to take both the specificity and the complexity of life into full account. In living life, persons elaborated active mind, Geist, from and in their experience. Dilthey's significance for the human enterprise, especially for education, is still far from fully realized. If something grounds post-modernism, it is the Diltheyian recognition that both thought and action join in the living of life, infinitely varied yet irrevocably concrete. Like John Dewey, Dilthey charted a course between those who believe in the possibility of objective certainty and those resigned to a relativism without rigor. Both Dewey and Dilthey attended closely to concrete experience, to lived life. Dewey took experience as a given and showed what attending to it could mean for different forms of activity—for education, art, science, public life. He did not, however, have much to say about experience, as such, except that it was the starting point. Consequently, he presumed a generous collaboration by his readers, who needed to agree with him spontaneously that indeed the way to consider these topics was in the light of experience. In contrast, Dilthey spent more effort developing a phenomenology of lived life, interpreting through his conceptual grasp what humans concretely did in experiencing their experience. Dilthey actively appropriated experience, showing the necessity of taking it to be the ground for the whole edifice of human culture. Dilthey took on the more difficult task and consequently never had the popularity of Dewey, but Dilthey provided a stronger foundation upon which others could build. If American educators recover Neuhumanismus as part of their intellectual heritage, they will absorb Dilthey and what follows from his work as an extraordinary bonus. It brings no easily adoptable solutions, but it does provide a ground for the reinvigoration of educational thought and action.
Let us close our sampling of historical pedagogy and its scope, the tradition American educational scholars did not absorb, by quoting Dilthey at some length, and then Schwarz again more briefly. Then we can end with two considerations about what can and should result by incorporating Neuhumanismus into American educational efforts. Here, at some length, is how Dilthey concluded The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences, a late work from 1910:
Wilhelm Dilthey, Selected Works, Vol. III (Rudolf A. Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi, trans., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), pp. 310-311.
The historical consciousness of the finitude of every historical phenomenon and of every human or social state, and of the relativity of every kind of faith, is the final step toward the liberation of human beings. With historical consciousness human beings attain the sovereignty to enjoy every experience to the full, to surrender themselves to it completely and unencumbered, as if there were no system of philosophy or faith that could bind them. Life is freed from conceptual cognition, and spirit rises above all the cobwebs of dogmatic thought. When everything beautiful, everything holy, every sacrifice is re-experienced and interpreted, they open up perspectives that disclose a reality. And in the same way we accept what is evil, frightful, and ugly as having a place in the world, as containing some reality that must be justified in the world system and cannot be wished away. Over against relativity, the continuity of creative force asserts itself as the core historical fact. Lived experience, understanding, poetry, and history give rise to a view of life that is always there in and with them. Reflection merely raises it to analytical clarity and distinctness. The teleological consideration of the world and of life is recognized as a metaphysics that is based on a one-sided, partial, but not contingent view of life. The doctrine of an objective value of life is a metaphysics that surpasses what can be experienced. We do experience, however, a connectedness of life and of history in which every part has a meaning. Like the letters of a word, life and history have a sense. There are syntactical moments of life and history that are like particles or conjugations, and they have a meaning, which is sought by every kind of human being. Previously, life used to be conceived on the basis of the world. But the only route possible is to proceed from the interpretation of life to the world. And life is there only in lived experience, understanding, and historical comprehension. We do not transport any sense of the world into life. We are open to the possibility that sense and meaning arise first in human beings and their history. It arises, however, in historical rather than isolated human beings. For human beings are historical beings.
And here, in the same spirit, pervaded by a trust in life and the strivings that living persons share, is how F. H. C. Schwarz closed the long historical volume of his Erziehungslehre. He simply said that he would list the most important educational writers of the recent time. He started at the top, "Goethe, Herder, Schiller are educational theorists in the highest style," followed by Johannes von Müller, and Joachim Campe, and his colleague, Niemeyer, and Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, and then close to 70 others, among them Herbart, writers and scholars who had, in Schwarz's judgment, over the two decades between 1790 and 1810, created the most extraordinary literature on education ever written, leaving Schwarz with just one thing more to say:
Schwarz, Erziehungslehre, Vol. 1.2, pp. 510-513
"In life, only what comes out of it, goes into it."
Cremin, American Education, vol. 3, p. 39-57, quotation from p. 49. One could multiply many fold the instances in Cremin's work and the work of many others, in which education is described with little reflection voiced on what could or should be educative in it.
What conclusions might we draw from these considerations? First, the history of education has a larger, more difficult task to perform than the ones it and related social sciences currently serve. Now, it largely describes institutional practice in order to illustrate principles derived from outside historical experience. Few educational historians take an active role in bringing educational experience to the bar of historical judgment. Throughout American Education, Cremin exemplifies this unwillingness to speak simultaneously as historian and as educator. Take an instance early in the third volume where he describes the educational activity of several distinct religious traditions in modern American culture. He shows their pedagogical efforts changing over time. A reader might suspect that Cremin had ideas about which movements were better educators and which were worse and why. Did he think the educative stimulus imparted by Reinhold Niebuhr would lead more effectively to human fulfillment than the educative work of, say, the World's Christian Fundamentals Association? If so, he kept those ideas and his reasons for them to himself. He juxtaposed descriptive narratives of these developments with little analysis of the pedagogical strengths and weaknesses of each. He at least concluded his presentation of the WCFA and William Jennings Bryan with a question that he thought to be deeply implicit in the experience he narrated: "Who was better able to attest the truths to be taught in a popular education system, professional experts or representative parents and laypeople, and at what level of community—local, state, or national—were such truths to be determined?" Instead, a pedagogical historian would, no more than Cremin, wade in with an opinionated answer to this question. But he could and would use an historically grounded understanding of educational experience to explore whether the question has real pedagogical import and if so, how people might draw that import out in resolving it. And if he question lacked educational significance, the historian would help people finesse it so that they could concentrate their capacities instead on pedagogically more fruitful matters.
Niemeyer, Grundsätze, vol. 3, pp. 429-430. See above, p. 29
Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (New York: Knopf, 1963).
Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,  1983) and The New England Mind, from Colony to Province (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,  1983).
As historians of education we have deeply internalized the Herbartian view that both knowledge and value come from sources outside of the historical experience that we study. We describe education; we are too reluctant to take pedagogical responsibility by offering educational interpretations of the historical experience that others have had. To interpret experience educationally, the historian needs to mobilize the three sources of interpretative leverage that Niemeyer identified—pedagogical introspection into his own educational experience, pedagogical reflection on educational experience in the historical record, and study of what others have had to say based on both their own experience and the historical record. Can historians write illuminating, interesting history by mobilizing such interpretative resources? I would submit that Richard Hofstadter exemplified it better than most in his Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, as did Perry Miller in The New England Mind.
Michael Harrington's Other America receives credit for putting poverty on the national policy agenda early in the Kennedy administration, but who has done it since. What political leader will step forward to say that we must devise policy to enable specific children caught in the concrete situations observers such as Kozol document achieve their full human potential? See Michael Harrington, The Other America; Poverty in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1962). and Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, Harper Perennial ed (New York: HarperPerennial, 1992). In addition to the human difficulties Kozol has documented in his books, one of the disturbing elements in the historical situation is the degree to which he has had to repeat himself over and over again, throughout a long career.
Yes, examples of such educative interpretation written by serious historian-educators are too few. But the importance of bringing educational experience to the bar of historical judgment does not disappear simply by not addressing it. Like Molière's bourgeois gentilhomme, who was astonished to learn that he spoke prose, a deficient awareness of historical pedagogy in educational thought and practice does not mean that it is absent in what we think and do. Most educational controversies, and many educational reforms, get their energy and direction from historical arguments. The Herbartian assumptions that no meaning is immanent in historical experience and that historical inquiry can yield no pedagogical knowledge sidelines historians in these controversies. Critics like Jonathan Kozol, who voice strong positions interpreting the lived experience of specific children coping with real circumstances, have no intellectual standing in the controversies. If attended to at all, they are attended to as prophetic voices, speaking from the wilderness.
Relative to the specific lives that Katherine Boo has been documenting during the past few years in the New Yorker, the educational policies based on abstract diagnoses of the economic challenges from The Nation at Risk through Tough Choices or Tough Times seem mindlessly abstract. Somehow we need to recover a shared conviction that each and every child, no matter how adverse his or her circumstances, has a real potential of real, positive value such that each and all of us have a positive interest in providing the conditions requisite for his or her fulfillment.
When educational scholarship discounts historical knowledge and understanding, it leaves historical argumentation open to the most artful ideologues. The movement towards making the work of schools accountable to an explicit set of instructional standards and to steady improvement in test scores exemplifies the resulting collapse of historical intelligence. The movement amalgamates two historical expectations that people want schooling for all to further, the expectation that good schooling will enable the society to achieve its egalitarian ideals and the expectation that good schooling will extend the relative strength of the American economy as it undergoes the challenges of globalization. Neither historians of education, nor historically grounded social science, has clarified the pedagogical experience relevant to these aspirations. In the lived lives of real persons, what actual educational experience will enhance their specific capacities and dispositions to make a polity more or less egalitarian? Which will enable José and Sujata, and all other children, to each meet the economic challenges and possibilities that they face? These are very difficult questions the difficulty of which can only be made publicly evident as thoughtful scholars entertain them in reflecting on the lived educational experience of persons as they engage the concrete circumstances of their lives.
Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987). I think The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality by Julie A. Reuben (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996) exemplifies the work of a historian trying to come to grips with elements of historical pedagogy at work in the emergence of the modern university.
As we stand on the sideline and historical arguments about what is educative in the world ricochet about us with little clear attention to their substance, vacuities gain a purchase on policy and practice. Educational history cannot quickly intervene with definitive answers in these matters. When the most knowledgeable hold back and someone projects a poorly grounded historical argument into the public arena, public views too easily polarize, for and against, with little intellectual substance available to resolve the opposition, as happened in the recent canon wars. The point is not simply to join the fray, as many did. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom put forward answers to difficult questions about the educative importance of shared exposure to certain kinds of texts and about the moral and cultural effects of different styles of thinking. These questions have been at issue throughout deep changes in secondary and higher education over the past two hundred years or more. Historians of education have described these changes. In doing so, they did not, however, deeply explore the educational effects of the changes manifest in historical experience. Hence they had little to contribute in a prolonged controversy. Bloom's book advanced challenging ideas about the educative effects on the capacities and dispositions of young persons resulting from encounters in their lived experience with certain texts. Historical pedagogy should enable us to provide either more critical pressure on such assertions or more critical support. Over time, with greater attention to historical pedagogy, our recourse to it, both within the profession and within our culture at large, may become more intelligent and effective.
Let us embrace historical pedagogy and take some responsibility for determining what the role of educative thought and action in American life can and should be.
- What can and should the role of educative thought and action be in a historical situation where each person, like it or not, seeks self-realization under circumstances where space and time, and all that happens therein, are so compacted and foreshortened?
- What ideas, skills, and values will a person actually find helpful in coping with the particular configuration of circumstance that he or she will experience?
These are very difficult questions, which we should put at the center of our work.
And before closing, let us ask one more little question—in such imperatives, who is the we? Putting this question brings our inquiry full circle, for it takes us back to the Committee on the Role of Education in American History. In his essays sponsored by the Committee, Bailyn shunted attention towards the schools of education. And the argument here has carried us back through the founding of those schools to the idea of historical pedagogy. The Committee, however, wanted to address the historical profession at large, not that tiny outpost of it in schools of education. The Committee asked American historians to develop a historical pedagogy. The historical profession has made little real progress in the ensuing half century in answering the eight big questions (p. 11) that the Committee posed. Why was the Committee itself trying to pose these questions. Who sat on the Committee, the larger one meeting in 1954, or the smaller one continuing its operations in a formal sense? Who were the men who managed its money and decided whom to fund? What were they really seeking—Clarence Faust, Paul Buck, Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., Richard Hofstadter, and Richard Storr? We can answer these questions only in the archives and possibly through an interview or two. But we can consider a hypothesis as a possible guide for what to seek.
A useful source for how Buck, as James B. Conant's right hand from 1942–1953, would have an insider's view of such events is James G. Hershberg, James B. Conant: Harvard to Hiroshima and the Making of the Nuclear Age (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1995). Faust would have been an insider with respect to Robert M. Hutchins' defenses of academic freedom as early as 1935, when Hutchins defense of the University of Chicago against accusations by Clarence Walgreen, a drugstore magnate, and the Illinois State Senate that the University was soft on subversives. At the time the Committee on the Role of Education was starting up, Hutchins had a very visible role at the Ford Foundation and its Fund for the Republic and was embroiled with the U.S. House of Representatives Reece Committee over similar charges. See Mary Ann Dzuback, Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
Clarence Faust, the money man, had been the Dean of the College at the University of Chicago who during World War II had pushed through its reforms in the name of a new format for general education, one that would affect both college and high school. Paul Buck, the chair of the group, had spent much effort during the war as Dean and Provost of Harvard University, chairing its Committee on General Education in a Free Society, spending significant resources in a time of significant constraint to rethink important educational goals appropriate for all citizens that high-schools and colleges might help them attain. And Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., the idea man for Faust's Committee, had been the most powerful faculty member in the deliberations of the Harvard Committee that Buck had chaired. To help this triumvirate carry out their purposes, they recruited Richard Storr, the historian of the University of Chicago, and Richard Hofstadter, the leading young historian at Columbia University, the locus of a well-known program of general education. A similar look at the larger group that met in 1954 would show it representing the same nexus of ideas. The group shared strong convictions about the importance of reforms in general education opportunities coming out of the historical catastrophes they had struggled through since the early 30s. In the mid 50s that sense of historical contingency would still be high for the members of the Committee. Key members were highly aware of nuclear weapons, insiders to Cold War foreign policy, and under pressure from irrationalities loose in domestic politics, McCarthy being only the most evident among them.
We need to hypothesize an integral link between the work of the Committee on the Role of Education in American History and the reforms that the same men attempted a decade earlier. Two questions are key in developing this hypothesis.
- What was at stake in the idea of general education as the members of the Committee on the Role of Education in American History would have understood it?
- And in the light of their concern for general education, why would they be trying to get American historians deeply involved in developing historical pedagogy through an educational interpretation of American history?
If one simply compares the Harvard Report to The Higher Learning in America by Robert Maynard Hutchins, one is likely to see two contrasting conceptions of general education. But the Higher Learning represents the Hutchins of the mid-1930s and I think that by the 1950s he was much more inclined to think about education with fairly near-term political concerns in mind. Faust, in an essay written with Reuben Frodin in 1948 used a conception of general education very close to that of the Harvard Report in criticizing secondary education. See Harvard University, General Education in a Free Society; Report of the Harvard Committee (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1945), Robert Maynard Hutchins, The Higher Learning in America (New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers,  1995), and Clarence H. Faust, and Reuben Frodin, "Notes on a Secondary-School Curriculum," The School Review, 56.1 (1948), pp. 12-25.
To begin, note that the Chicago person on the Committee held the money and delegated substantive leadership of the Committee to the Harvard people. This means that we should look to the conception of general education developed during the War by the Harvard group rather than the University of Chicago, which originally had a timeless, a-historical cast to it. The Harvard Report set forth quite clearly the pedagogical problem raised in seeking to provide sound general education under the prevailing historical circumstances.
Harvard, General Education, p. 4.
General education, as education for an informed responsible life in our society, has chiefly to do with . . . the question of common standards and common purposes. Taken as a whole, education seeks to do two things: Help young persons fulfill the unique, particular functions in life which it is in them to fulfill, and fit them so far as it can for those common spheres which, as citizens and heirs of a joint culture, they will share with others. Obviously these two ends are not wholly separable even in idea. . . . Yet to analyze is inevitably to separate what in fact clings together, and this report on general education will perforce deal mainly with preparation for life in the broad sense of completeness as a human being, rather than in the narrower sense of competence in a particular lot.
The Report developed this idea of general education at length, linking its four
Harvard, General Education, pp. 42-78, quotation pp. 64-5.
aims so important as to prescribe how general education should be carried out and which abilities should be sought above all others in every part of it. These abilities, in our opinion are: to think effectively, to communicate thought, to make relevant judgments, to discriminate between values. . . Each is an indispensable coexistent of a sanely growing mind.
Harvard, General Education, Diversity, pp. 79-103, Secondary-school implementation, pp. 104-176.
The Committee explained what mastering each of these four abilities entailed. It continued its analysis of the pedagogical problems that needed to be solved in educating for these abilities in an extended discussion of the numerous diversities within the American society and polity. The Committee then tried to address the crux of the difficulty—for such a general education to become a shared possession of each and all it had to be effectively implemented in secondary schools. No matter how extensive access to colleges became following the War, a substantial portion of youth would not continue formal schooling beyond high-school.
See Educational Policies Commission, Education for All American Youth (Washington, D.C: Educational Policies Commission, National Education Association of the United States and the American Association of School Administrators, 1944); Wallace Brett Donham, Education for Responsible Living: the Opportunity for Liberal-arts Colleges (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1944); James B. Conant, "A Truce Among Educators," Teachers College Record, 46.3 (1944), 157-63, and "Public Education and the Structure of American Society," Teachers College Record, 47.3 (1945), 145-94; Jacques Barzun, Teacher in America (Indianapolis: Liberty Press,  1981); Howard Mumford Jones, Education and World Tragedy (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1946); and Sidney Hook, Education for Modern Man (New York: The Dial Press, 1946).
See Edward Humes, Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream, (Orlando: Harcourt, 2006) and Suzanne Mettler, Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Buck, Schlesinger, and their colleagues had put forward a demanding education vision and laid out a clear case for its historical importance. The time seemed ripe in 1945 for its reception. A spate of books had been published, shortly before it and shortly after—Education for All American Youth by the Educational Policies Commission (1944); Education for Responsible Living by Wallace Brett Donham (1944); a stream of speeches and essays by James B. Conant, two notably in the Teachers College Record on "A Truce Among Educators" (1944) and three Sachs Lectures on "Public Education and the Structure of American Society" (1945); Teacher in America by Jacques Barzun (1945); Education and World Tragedy by Howard Mumford Jones (1946); and Education for Modern Man by Sidney Hook (1946). Despite the sense of common, shared purpose at the end of the War, the Harvard Report, a genuinely interesting document, a thoughtful discussion of the historical pedagogy suitable for the post-War situation, fell flat, at Harvard and throughout the country. The only real educational development to ensue from the War was the GI Bill. It significantly broadened access to higher education, particularly for men, but as a bounded entitlement program it brought no substantive pedagogical innovation such as that the Harvard Report called in general education. The surge in college enrollments it occasioned extended into the long-term expansion of access to higher education. In not really intersecting with the pedagogical question, however, it carried with it an eventual accentuation of the question—access to what?
Nothing happened in the ten years or so after the Harvard Report that would lead those who framed it and like-minded colleagues to think that the problem of general education had diminished. Their compulsory participation in the school of catastrophe had been all-too-real, and their concern about the relation between the character of educational experience and the ability of self-governing peoples to manage their historical lives with sufficient prudence would still be acute in the 1950s. The people on and around the Committee on the Role of Education had been privy to the immense mobilization of power and talent in undertakings such as the Manhattan Project and they had few illusions about the inherent stability of the American polity, for they had been up close to the politics of Red baiting and the like since before the war. Hence our hypothesis: the Committee on the Role of Education in American History was intending to open a new path to the development of reforms in general education. They tried to do so by seeding a more active commitment to historical pedagogy, not by scholars in our schools of education, but by one of the basic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
Wilhelm Dilthey, "Übe die Möglichkeit einer Allgemeingültigen Pädadodischen Wissenschaft", Gesammelte Schriften, vi, pp. 61-2.
Jurgen Herbst gives five examples (Herbert Baxter Adams, history, John W. Burgess, political science, Richard T. Ely, economics, Albion Small, sociologist, and Francis Greenwood Peabody, ethicstheology) in The German Historical School in American Scholarship: A Study of the Transfer of Culture (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, , 1972).
Here a second conclusion arises from these considerations. Historical pedagogy, while important in schools of education, should be a major concern throughout the university as a whole, especially throughout the humanities and the social sciences. Dilthey had addressed his thoughts about the possibility of a universally valid educational science to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, not an association of schoolmen. In addressing his peers across all the disciplines, he observed that the situation in pedagogical studies was out of sync with that in other important areas of scholarship. In those—it was circa 1890—the historical school within each was thriving. From the vantage point of more than a century later, Dilthey's belief that other disciplines were on a sound historical footing appears somewhat complacent. That the situation in educational science was then anomalous arose from a trick of historical chronology. As it has more often than we think, education as a field had very early gone through the Methodenstreit, the methodological conflict endemic to modern social thought, earlier than it happened in most other areas. Dilthey observed that the drive towards "abstract and universal pedagogical science" was similar to efforts in other disciplines—theology, law, economics, and political science to privilege the pursuit of universally valid abstract propositions over the exploration of historically grounded diversities. But in these other fields, unlike pedagogy, Dilthey thought that the historical school was holding its own. Pedagogy was the anomaly: in it, as we have seen with Wilhelm Rein, the historical was declared incapable of contributing any sound knowledge derived from the concrete experiences it studied. As these other areas, the social sciences, originally came to the United States, they were hospitable to the historical school, as Dilthey observed, that is, to the examination of lived experience as the empirical basis for their work.
It is a long story, not to be explored here, but throughout the social sciences the pursuit of universally valid findings has become far more dominant at the beginning of the 21st century than it was at the start of the 20th. Attention to meanings and potentialities embedded in the concrete particularities of lived experience has concomitantly diminished. There are in these developments some important historical questions that the American academy should as a whole examine carefully. What are all the ramifications as we privilege universally valid abstractions over concretely meaningful experience? What are the consequences, if any, of these developments for the formation and implementation of social policy, for the allocation of public resources towards public purposes, for the day to day conduct of political life, for the balance struck between the immediate and the general in thinking about self-interest, for the ability to construe identity and to perceive commonality despite difference, for the deference towards the rights of others and to established procedures? What have been the historical consequences in human experience of different assumptions about the degree to which infants, and children, and adults for that matter, possess an autonomous will, or do not? What is the concrete nature of the historical task facing the caring parent, the chance bystander, the thoughtful teacher in the struggle of each person to make of themselves what they can and should become? All these, and many more like them, are questions that we, all of us—thoughtful educators in schools, in universities, and in the public at large—should be considering with all the intelligence and insight that we can muster.
11. How much does fear cost?
12. What concerned Conant?
Johann Basedow <-1724–1790---------------------> Educator
Friedrich G. Klopstock <-1724–1790---------------------------> Poet
Immanuel Kant <-1724–1804----------------------------> Philosopher
Gotthold E. Lessing <-1729–1781--------------> Philosopher
Moses Mendelssohn <-1729–1786-----------------> Philosopher
Johann G. Hamann <-1730–1788-----------------> Philosopher
Sophie von LaRoche <-1730–1807--------------------------> Author
Christoph M. Wieland <-1733–1813----------------------------> Writer
Johann J. Tetens <-1736–1807------------------------> Philosopher
Johann G. H. Feder <-1740–1821----------------------------> Philosopher
Theodor G. von Hippel <-1741–1796---------------> Author
Georg C. Lichtenberg <-1742–1799----------------> Scientist
Friedrich H. Jacobi <-1743–1819--------------------------> Philosopher
Johann G. Herder <-1744–1803-----------------> Philosopher
Christian G. Salzmann <-1744–1811---------------------> Educator
Ernst C. Trapp <-1745–1818-------------------------> Educator
Friederike Riedesel <-1746–1808------------------> Writer
Joachim H. Campe <-1746–1818------------------------> Educator
Peter Villaume <-1746–1825---------------------------> Educator
Johann H. Pestalozzi <-1746–1827----------------------------> Educator
Amalie von Gallitzin <-1748–1806-----------------> Salonière
Johann W. von Goethe <-1749–1832------------------------------> Author
Johann H. Voss <-1751–1826-------------------------> Philologian
Johann M. Sailer <-1751–1832----------------------------> Educator
Johannes von Müller <-1752–1809-------------------------> Historian
Johann G. Eichhorn <-1752–1827-------------------------> Theologian
Georg Forster <-1754–1794---------> Essayist
August H. Niemeyer <-1754–1828-------------------------> Educator
Marianne Ehrmann <-1755–1795--------> Actress
Karl L. Reinhold <-1757–1823---------------------> Philosopher
Franz M. Vierthaler <-1758–1827-----------------------> Educator
Friedrich von Schiller <-1759–1805-----------> Poet
Friedrich A. Wolf <-1759–1824---------------------> Philologist
Johann G. Fichte <-1762–1814--------------> Philosopher
Caroline Schlegel <-–1763–1809----------> Author
Jean Paul (Richter) <-1763–1825------------------> Author
Therese Huber <-1764–1829-------------------> Writer
Henriette Herz <-1764–1847----------------------------> Salonière
Caroline von Humbolodt <-1766–1829-------------------> Salonière
Friedrich H. C. Schwarz <-1766–1837-----------------------> Educator
Friedrich I. Niethammer <-1766–1848-----------------------------> Educator
Wilhelm von Humboldt <-1767–1835----------------------> Academican
Reinhold B. Jachmann <-1767–1843--------------------------> Educator
Friedrich Schleiermacher <-1768–1834---------------------> Theologian
Ernst M. Arndt <-1769–1860----------------------------------> Poet
Sophie Mereau <-1770–1806------> Author
Dorothea Schlözer <-1770–1825---------------> Philosopher
G. W. F. Hegel <-1770–1831------------------> Philosopher
Friedrich Höderlin <-1770–1843----------<======insane======> Poet
Rahel Varnhagen <-1771–1833------------------> Salonière
Friedrich von Schlegel <-1772–1829----------------> Philosopher
Novalis (G. Hardenberg) <-1772–1801--> Poet
Jakob F. Fries <-1773–1843-----------------------> Philosopher
Ludwig Tieck <-1773–1853----------------------------> Poet
Friedrich von Schelling <-1775–1854----------------------------> Philosopher
Johann F. Herbart <-1776–1841--------------------> Educator
Heinrich von Kleist <-1777–1811-----> Dramatist
Karoline L. Brachmann <-1777–1822------------> Writer
Clemens Brentano <-1778–1842--------------------> Author
Karoline v. Günderrode <-1780–1806----> Poet
Sequence of major works:
Klopstock, Messias, (1748–1773)
Mendelssohn, Letters on Sensation, (1755)
Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding, published in German, (1755)
Kant, Writings on natural history, (1756–1780)
Klopstock, Geistliche Lieder, (1758–1769)
Hamann, Socratic Memorabilia, (1759)
Mendelssohn, Philosophical Writings, (1761)
Hamann, Crusades of the Philogian, (1762)
Weiland translate Shakespeare's plays, (8 vols., 1762–1766)
Rousseau, Emile and Social Contract
Mendelssohn, Evidence in the Metaphysical Sciences, (1764)
Kant, Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime & Principles of Natural Theology and Morals, (1764)
Herder, How Philosophy Can Become More Useful for the Benefit of the People, (1765)
Kant, Dreams of the Spirit-Seeker, (1766)
Lessing, Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry, (1766)
Wieland, Agathon, (1766)
Mendelssohn, Phaedo, Or the Imortality of the Soul, (1767)
Klopstock, Hermanns Battle, (1769)
Mendelssohn, Letter to Lavater, (1769)
Basedow, Founder and publicist of the Philanthropinium at Dessau, (an influential set of educational institutions limiting religious influence and advancing a Rousseaian education preparing the young for public and patriotic service and for personal fulfillment. 1770–1790)
Kant, Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World, (1770)
Herder, On the Origin of Language, (1772)
Wieland, "The Golden Mirror, (1772)
Wieldand founds and edits the journal, The German Merkur, (1773–1789)
Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther, (1774)
Herder, This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity, (1774)
Lichtenberg, Letters from England, (1774)
Klopstock, On the German Republic of Letters, (1774)
Through Goethe, Herder appointed as General Superintendent for the Duchy of Weimar, overseeing both churches abnd schools, (1776–1803)
Lessing, Nathan the Wise, (1778)
Herder, Folksongs, (1778, 2nd. ed., 1807)
Klopstock, Fragment on Language and Poetry, (1779)
Lessing, The Education of the Human Race
Salzmann, Little Crab Book, (a satirical compilation of inane pedagogical practice)
Trapp, Essay on Education
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1st ed. (2nd. 1787)
Pestalozzi, Leonard and Gertrude, (expanded 1783, 1785, 1787, 1826)
Schiller, The Robbers
Pestaolozzi, Christophe and Eliza
Mendelssohn, Jerusalem, or on Religious Power and Juaism
Kant, Idea of a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
Hamann, Metacritique of the Purism of Reason & Golgotha and Scheblimini
Herder, Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity, (1784–1791)
Villaume, Educating the Love of Mankind
Kant, Metaphysic of Morals
Jacobi, Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza
Campe, School & Education Journal, 16 vols., (1885–91)
Mendelssohn, To the Friends of Lessing
Jacobi, David Hume on Faith, or Idealism and Realism
Goethe, Iphigenia in Tauris
Niemeyer, On the Spirit of the Times, Pedagogically Considered
Vierthaler, Philosophical History of Humanity, (vol. 1, 7 vols. 1787–1819)
Kant, Critique of Practical Reason
Schiller, Revolt of the Netherlands
Kant, Critique of Judgment
Villaume, On the Relation of Religion to Morals and to the State
Goethe, Torquato Tasso
Niemeyer, Pedagogical Handbook
Reinhold, Letters on the Kantian Philosophy
Schiller, History of the Thirty Years War
Reinhold, On the Foundation of Philosophical Knowledge
Fichte, Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation
W. von Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, (unpublished until circa 1850)
Kant, Religion within the Bounds of Pure Reason
Herder, Letters on the Advancement of Humanity, (1793–1797)
Vierthaler, Spirit of Socrates
Klopstock, Grammatical Talks
Lichtenberg, Comprehensive Clarification of Hogarth's Engravings
Fichte, Science of Knowledge
Kant, Perpetual Peace
Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man
Wolf, Prolegomena to Homer
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
Salzmann, Konrad Kiefer, or Directions for a Reasonable Education
Niemeyer, Principles of Education and Instruction
Eichhorn, General History of Culture and Literature in Modern Europe
Höderlin, Hyperion I
F. von Schlegel, On the Study of Greek Poetry
Pestalozzi, Investigations into the Course of Nature in the Development of the Human Race
Eichhorn, Overview of the French Revolution
Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View
Goethe, Hermann and Dorothea
Fichte, System of Ethics
F. von Schlegel, Lucinde
Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers
Höderlin, Hyperion II
Jacobi, Letter to Fichte
Herder, Understanding and Experience, A Metacritique
Reinhold, On the Paradoxes of the Newest Philosophy
Fichte, The Vocation of Man
Schleiermacher, Soliloquies and Confidential Letters Concerning Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde
Jean Paul, Titan
Pestalozzi, How Gertrude Teaches Her Children
Hegel, "The Difference between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy
Kant, On Education
Niemeyer, Manual of Pedagogy and Didactics
Schelling, Lectures on the Methods of Academic Study
Arndt, History of Serfdom in Pomerania and Rugia
Schiller, William Tell
Jean Paul, Flegeljahre
Jachmann, Immanuel Kant Depicted in Letters to a Friend
Schleiermacher, German translations of Plato's Dialogues, (1804–1828)
Arndt, Fragments on the Formation of Men, (1804–1809)
Höderlin, Sophocles translation
Eichhorn, Introduction to the New Testament
Schwarz, Educational and Instructional Theory
Salzmann, Little Ant Book, (a manual for teachers and parents)
Reinhold, Critique of Logic fom the Viewpoint of Language
Schleiermacher, Christmas Eve
Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
Fichte, Addresses to the German Nation
Jean Paul, Levana, or the Doctrine of Education
Campe, German Dictionary, 5 vols. (1807–11)
Fichte, Plan for Establishing an Institution of Advanced Instruction in Berlin, (published, 1817)
Goethe, Faust Part I
Wilhelm von Humboldt, Prussian Minister of Public Instruction, (1808–1810)
Hegel, Rector of the Egidien Gymnasium in Nürnberg, (1808–1816)
Schleiermacher, Occasional Thoughts on Universities in the German Sense
Niethammer, The Quarrel of Philanthropism and Humanism in the Educational Theory of Our Time
F. von Schlegel, On the Language and Wisdom of India
W. von Humboldt, "On the Inner and Outer Organization of the Higher Scientific Institutions in Berlin"
Goethe, Elective Affinities
Jacobi, Of Divine Things and Their Revelation
F. von Schlegel, On the New History
Hegel, Science of Logic I
Schwarz, Theory of Education
Schleiermacher, On the Different Methods of Translation
Jachmann, On the Relation of the School to the World
F. von Schlegel, History of the Old and the New Literature
Hegel, Science of Logic II
Eichhorn, The Hebrew Prophets, (3 vols., 1816–1819)
Goethe, Italian Journey
Hegel, Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, (2nd. ed., 1827, 3rd. 1830)
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Travels
W. von Humboldt, On the Task of Historical Writers
Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith
Hegel, Philosophy of Right
Schleiermacher, Foundations for the Art of Education, (lectures, published 1849)
F. von Schlegel, Philosophy of Life
F. von Schlegel, Philosophy of History
Goethe, Faust, Part II