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Stories of the Eight-Year Study

Reexamining Secondary Education in America

Craig Kridel, Robert V. Bullough Jr., John I. Goodlad

Publication Year: 2007

Presenting the first complete history of the Progressive Education Association’s Eight-Year Study, which took place during the 1930s and the 1940s, this book corrects common misinterpretations of one of the most important educational experiments of the twentieth century and explores the study’s value for reexamining secondary education in America today.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Stories of the Eight-Year Study: Reexamining Secondary Education in America

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: A Tale of Lost Horizons

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pp. ix-xii

From time to time in recent years, various educators have raised the question of whether an initiative comparable to the Eight-Year Study should be undertaken. Since nearly all those introducing the query either were not yet born or were children during the years of planning ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

We wish to thank three individuals whose help and assistance guided and defined this work. To Paul R. Klohr, professor emeritus, Ohio State University and former director of the Ohio State University School, who first introduced us to the Eight-Year Study and who upheld the spirit of the ...

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pp. 1-17

This simple tale of progressive education has not changed much since the publication of Cremin's The Transformation of the Schools over forty-five years ago. Dewey remains the constant in the morality play-- blessed or damned--and accolades or darts are thrown depending upon ...

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Vignette: Wilford Merton Aikin (1882-1965): Hope, Success, and Realistic Expectations

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pp. 17-24

The Progressive Education Association's 1929 National Conference was a thrilling time for Wilford Aikin, head of the local St. Louis Conference Arrangement Committee. This middle-aged school director, while not then a member of the PEA hierarchy, had corresponded for ...

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1. The Educational Context of the Eight-Year Study

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pp. 25-38

There is no need to re-present the history of progressive education. Patricia Graham's Progressive Education, Lawrence Cremin's The Transformation of the School, and William Reese's Power and the Promise of School Reform have already done so, and their work proves as insightful today ...

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Vignette: V. T. Thayer (1886-1979): A Middle Position of Integrity without Compromise

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pp. 39-46

Among those who prepared for a changing future without dogmatism or rigidity, V. T. Thayer embodies the work of the Eight-Year Study. Thayer was, in the language of the time, "a schoolman" ...

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2. Tests and Records: The Veneer of College Admissions

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pp. 47-62

An emphasis on student testing may not have been what one would have expected from the Aikin Commission. The early years of the Eight-Year Study, however, were remarkably different from what is now portrayed. Ralph Tyler, V. T. Thayer, Caroline Zachry, and Alice Keliher, all ...

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Vignette: Eugene Randolph Smith (1876-1968):Recognizing "the futility of statistics as an end in itself"

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pp. 63-70

The name Smith seems to permeate Progressive Education Association documents--Eugene Randolph Smith, Herbert Winslow Smith, Perry Dunlap Smith, and Elliott Dunlap Smith. Each takes on different roles in the stories of ...

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3. An Essential Faith:From Tests and Measurementto Appraisal and Evaluation

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pp. 71-88

In the spring of 1934 school headmasters, commission staff, and teachers were disturbed with the direction the experiment seemed to be taking. Frustrated with the seemingly ineffective attempts to reframe their school programs--the confused fumbling--the principals lashed

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Vignette: Understanding Ralph Tyler (1902-1994)

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pp. 89-96

Ralph Winfred Tyler was once described as Mr. Fix-it, a moniker that seems especially amusing as a way to depict the stoic statesman who many consider one of the most important educators of the twentieth century.2 We wish not to make too much of this description

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4. Guidance, Human Relations, and the Study of Adolescents

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pp. 97-112

As the first group of students entered college in 1936, the three Eight-Year Study Commissions were in place to assist school faculties with their experimental work. Assessment and cumulative records, rather than testing, now guided the project as information was collected to ...

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Vignette: Alice V. Keliher (1903-1995): Fate, Frank, and Film

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pp. 113-120

Alice Keliher's career included other strokes of luck, many stemming specifically from taking this one movie camera to Europe. Her curiosity and zeal for innovative forms of technology, along with much administrative ...

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5. The Conception of Needs: A Dilemma of Progressive Education

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pp. 121-134

The Zachry Committee's and Keliher Commission's research on "knowing the adolescent student" ran headlong into several serious conceptual and practical problems. Of these, none proved more vexing than the struggle to produce a workable "concept of needs," what inevitably becomes ...

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Vignette: .Caroline Zachry (1894-1945): None Quite Like Our Dr. Zachry

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pp. 135-142

Without a doubt, there was no one quite like Caroline Beaumont Zachry. Benjamin Spock, a close friend and colleague, described her as having a "self-assurance that inspired confidence." Others noted her calmness and ...

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6. The Core Curriculum:Rethinking Curriculum and Instruction

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pp. 143-160

Educational problems are persistent and rarely, if ever, resolved, except temporarily. One hopes that each generation learns at least a little from the struggles of its predecessors, but with curricular issues such optimism is not well placed. Consider the following statement ...

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Vignette: Harold Alberty (1890-1971) and the Quest for Core

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pp. 161-168

Harold Alberty's participation in the Eight-Year Study decisively affected his career, and in many ways he helped determine the direction of the project. After the completion of the Study and for the rest of his life, he championed an adolescent needs-based and problem-centered core curriculum, a form of ...

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7. The Importance of Social Philosophy:Democracy as a Way of Life

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pp. 169-182

When George Counts spoke at the February 1932 PEA annual conference in Baltimore, he hoped his words would lead to action, to a fundamental shift in the Association's priorities. His comments were sharp and unforgiving as he sought to arouse members to recognize ...

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Vignette: Boyd H. Bode (1873-1953): Philosophy Brought Down to Earth

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pp. 183-188

In October 1938, Time magazine published an article on the progress of progressive education written to commemorate the PEA's twentieth birthday. Boyd Bode was prominently featured. No doubt he was simultaneously pleased and probably more than a bit ...

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8. Staff Development:Teacher Workshops as Personal and Professional Growth

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pp. 189-202

Improving the quality of teaching has long been a pressing issue and remains so today. Under federal legislation, the goal to place a highly qualified teacher in every classroom is a worthy aim. But definitions of what constitutes "highly qualified" are sharply contested as they have ...

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Vignette: Margaret Willis (1899-1987): And Gladly Would She Learn

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pp. 203-210

Miss LaBrant: We did two things after class last night. We had the questions mimeographed for you. Miss Willis rearranged them so that the questions that went together were put together....We knew we could not handle all sixty- two of you at a time, and Miss Willis ...

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9. Reexamining Secondary Education in America

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pp. 211-224

A. N. Zechiel, curriculum associate with the Aikin Commission, joined his many colleagues at the Goddard College Conference on Current Educational Issues twenty years after the completion of the Eight-Year Study. H. H. Giles, Harold Alberty, S. P. McCutchen, Hilda Taba, V. T. Thayer, Katherine Taylor, Alice Keliher, and others gathered ...

Appendix A. The Thirty Schools of the Commission on the Relation of School and College

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pp. 225-236

Appendix B. Testing Bureaus and Projects Related to the Aikin Commission

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pp. 237-240

Appendix C. Excerpt from a Comprehensive Student Record

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pp. 241-242


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pp. 243-246


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pp. 247-248


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pp. 249-286

Annotated Bibliography

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pp. 287-290


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pp. 291-298

E-ISBN-13: 9780791480250
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791470534
Print-ISBN-10: 0791470539

Page Count: 312
Illustrations: 9 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Education -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Progressive education -- United States -- History.
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