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Child-Sized History

Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms

Sara L. Schwebel

For more than three decades, the same children’s historical novels have been taught across the United States. Honored for their literary quality and appreciated for their alignment with social studies curricula, the books have flourished as schools moved from whole-language to phonics and from student-centered learning to standardized testing. Books like Johnny Tremain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry stimulate children’s imagination, transporting them into the American past and projecting them into an American future. As works of historical interpretation, however, many are startlingly out of step with current historiography and social sensibilities, especially with regard to race. Unlike textbooks, which are replaced on regular cycles and subjected to public tugs-of-war between the left and right, historical novels have simply—and quietly—endured. Taken individually, many present troubling interpretations of the American past. But embraced collectively, this classroom canon provides a rare pedagogical opportunity: it captures a range of interpretive voices across time and place, a kind of “people’s history” far removed from today’s state-sanctioned textbooks. Teachers who employ historical novels in the classroom can help students recognize and interpret historical narrative as the product of research, analytical perspective, and the politics of the time. In doing so, they sensitize students to the ways in which the past is put to moral and ideological uses in the present. Featuring separate chapters on American Indians, war, and slavery, Child-Sized History tracks the changes in how young readers are taught to conceptualize history and the American nation.

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Cold War University

Madison and the New Left in the Sixties

As the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated in the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government directed billions of dollars to American universities to promote higher enrollments, studies of foreign languages and cultures, and, especially, scientific research. In Cold War University, Matthew Levin traces the paradox that developed: higher education became increasingly enmeshed in the Cold War struggle even as university campuses became centers of opposition to Cold War policies. The partnerships between the federal government and major research universities sparked a campus backlash that provided the foundation, Levin argues, for much of the student dissent that followed. At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, one of the hubs of student political activism in the 1950s and 1960s, the protests reached their flashpoint with the 1967 demonstrations against campus recruiters from Dow Chemical, the manufacturers of napalm. Levin documents the development of student political organizations in Madison in the 1950s and the emergence of a mass movement in the decade that followed, adding texture to the history of national youth protests of the time. He shows how the University of Wisconsin tolerated political dissent even at the height of McCarthyism, an era named for Wisconsin's own virulently anti-Communist senator, and charts the emergence of an intellectual community of students and professors that encouraged new directions in radical politics. Some of the events in Madison—especially the 1966 draft protests, the 1967 sit-in against Dow Chemical, and the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing—have become part of the fabric of "The Sixties," touchstones in an era that continues to resonate in contemporary culture and politics.

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A Conversation about Ohio University and the Presidency, 1975?–?1994

When Charles Ping first arrived at Ohio University in 1975, the university was experiencing a decline in student enrollment and confronting serious financial challenges. But rather than focusing on its problems, President Ping instead concentrated on Ohio University’s potential.

“What attracted me was, essentially, the richness of the campus in people and programs,” said Ping. During the nineteen years that Ping served as president, he guided Ohio University in scholarship, research, and service, and substantially increased the size of the campus through the acquisition of The Ridges. After Ping announced his resignation in Spring 1993, the April 26 headline in the Columbus Dispatch read “Ping Leaving Ohio University with Big Shoes to Fill.”

In Ping’s 1994 undergraduate commencement ceremony speech, he said, “A university is a link from the past, through the present, to the future.” Ping continues to link the university’s past to the present in this new book published for the Ohio University Libraries by Ohio University Press. A Conversation about Ohio University and the Presidency, 1975–1994, is an edited version of the transcript of videotaped interviews recorded in May and June 2011.

“It is a conversation between two old friends,” said Ping of the series of interviews conducted by Sam Crowl, Shakespearean scholar and now trustee professor emeritus.

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Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky's Moonlight Schools

Fighting for Literacy in America

Yvonne Baldwin

The first woman elected superintendent of schools in Rowan County, Kentucky, Cora Wilson Stewart (1875–1958) realized that a major key to overcoming the illiteracy that plagued her community was to educate adult illiterates. To combat this problem, Stewart opened up her schools to adults during moonlit evenings in the winter of 1911. The result was the creation of the Moonlight Schools, a grassroots movement dedicated to eliminating illiteracy in one generation. Following Stewart’s lead, educators across the nation began to develop similar literacy programs; within a few years, Moonlight Schools had emerged in Minnesota, South Carolina, and other states. Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky’s Moonlight Schools examines these institutions and analyzes Stewart’s role in shaping education at the state and national levels. To improve their literacy, Moonlight students learned first to write their names and then advanced to practical lessons about everyday life. Stewart wrote reading primers for classroom use, designing them for rural people, soldiers, Native Americans, prisoners, and mothers. Each set of readers focused on the knowledge that individuals in the target group needed to acquire to be better citizens within their community. The reading lessons also emphasized the importance of patriotism, civic responsibility, Christian morality, heath, and social progress. Yvonne Honeycutt Baldwin explores the “elusive line between myth and reality” that existed in the rhetoric Stewart employed in order to accomplish her crusade. As did many educators engaged in benevolent work during the Progressive Era, Stewart sometimes romanticized the plight of her pupils and overstated her successes. As she traveled to lecture about the program in other states interested in addressing the problem of illiteracy, she often reported that the Moonlight Schools took one mountain community in Kentucky “from moonshine and bullets to lemonade and Bibles.” All rhetoric aside, the inclusive Moonlight Schools ultimately taught thousands of Americans in many under-served communities across the nation how to read and write. Despite the many successes of her programs, when Stewart retired in 1932, the crusade against adult illiteracy had yet to be won. Cora Wilson Stewart presents the story of a true pioneer in adult literacy and an outspoken advocate of women’s political and professional participation and leadership. Her methods continue to influence literacy programs and adult education policy and practice.

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Cornell '69

Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University

by Donald Alexander Downs

In April 1969, one of America's premier universities was celebrating parents' weekend-and the student union was an armed camp, occupied by over eighty defiant members of the campus's Afro-American Society. Marching out Sunday night, the protesters brandished rifles, their maxim: "If we die, you are going to die." Cornell '69 is an electrifying account of that weekend which probes the origins of the drama and describes how it was played out not only at Cornell but on campuses across the nation during the heyday of American liberalism.Donald Alexander Downs tells the story of how Cornell University became the battleground for the clashing forces of racial justice, intellectual freedom, and the rule of law.

Eyewitness accounts and retrospective interviews depict the explosive events of the day and bring the key participants into sharp focus: the Afro-American Society, outraged at a cross-burning incident on campus and demanding amnesty for its members implicated in other protests; University President James A. Perkins, long committed to addressing the legacies of racism, seeing his policies backfire and his career collapse; the faculty, indignant at the university's surrender, rejecting the administration's concessions, then reversing itself as the crisis wore on. The weekend's traumatic turn of events is shown by Downs to be a harbinger of the debates raging today over the meaning of the university in American society. He explores the fundamental questions it posed, questions Americans on and off campus are still struggling to answer: What is the relationship between racial justice and intellectual freedom? What are the limits in teaching identity politics? And what is the proper meaning of the university in a democratic polity?

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Creating the College Man

American Mass Magazines and Middle-Class Manhood, 1890–1915

Daniel A. Clark

How did a college education become so vital to American notions of professional and personal advancement? Reared on the ideal of the self-made man, American men had long rejected the need for college. But in the early twentieth century this ideal began to change as white men born in the U.S. faced a barrage of new challenges, among them a stultifying bureaucracy and growing competition in the workplace from an influx of immigrants and women. At this point a college education appealed to young men as an attractive avenue to success in a dawning corporate age. Accessible at first almost exclusively to middle-class white males, college funneled these aspiring elites toward a more comfortable and certain future in a revamped construction of the American dream.
    In Creating the College Man Daniel A. Clark argues that the dominant mass media of the era—popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan and the Saturday Evening Post—played an integral role in shaping the immediate and long-term goals of this select group of men. In editorials, articles, fiction, and advertising, magazines depicted the college man as simultaneously cultured and scientific, genteel and athletic, polished and tough. Such depictions underscored the college experience in powerful and attractive ways that neatly united the incongruous strains of American manhood and linked a college education to corporate success.

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The Daily Practice of Compassion

A History of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Its People, and Its Mission, 1964-2014

Dora Calott Wang

Published in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, this book provides more than an institutional history. Rich with anecdotes and personality, Dora Calott Wang’s account is a must-read for anyone curious about health care in New Mexico.

Celebrated for its innovations in medical curricula, UNM’s medical school began as an audacious experiment by pioneering educators who were determined to create a great medical school in a state beset by endemic poverty and daunting geographic barriers. Wang traces the enactment of the school’s mission to provide medical education for New Mexicans and to help alleviate the severe shortage of medical care throughout the state. The Daily Practice of Compassion offers a primer for policy makers in medical education and health-care delivery throughout the country.

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Dirty Words

The Rhetoric of Public Sex Education, 1870-1924

Robin E. Jensen

Dirty Words: The Rhetoric of Public Sex Education, 1870-1924, details the approaches and outcomes of sex-education initiatives in the Progressive Era. In analyzing the rhetorical strategies of sex-education advocates, Robin E. Jensen engages with rich sources such as lectures, books, movies, and posters that were often shaped by female health advocates and instructors. Her narrative demonstrates how women were both leaders and innovators in early U.S. sex-education movements, striving to provide education to underserved populations of women, minorities, and the working class. Investigating the communicative and rhetorical practices surrounding the emergence of public sex education in the United States, Jensen shows how women in particular struggled for a platform to create and circulate arguments concerning this controversial issue.

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Educating the Whole Child for the Whole World

The Ross School Model and Education for the Global Era

Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, 0

“When I visited the Long Island Ross School I was struck by the way Courtney Ross and her team successfully brought together the elements of an effective school: reflective teachers, innovative curriculum, and student-centered instruction. It is no wonder that the school has been a magnet for some of the most influential education thinkers of our time. In Educating the Whole Child for the Whole World, Suarez-Orozco and Sattin-Bajaj have created a multi-faceted meditation on the ever-evolving Ross model of education, with relevant lessons for educators everywhere.”

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Education and Democracy

The Meaning of Alexander Meiklejohn, 1872–1964

Adam R. Nelson

"Intellectual biography at its best. Nelson has presented us with the whole Meiklejohn, warts and all." —E. David Cronon, coauthor of The University of Wisconsin: A History -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is the definitive biography of Alexander Meiklejohn, one of the most important and controversial educators and civil libertarians of the twentieth century. A charismatic teacher and philosopher with extrordinarily high expectations for democratic self-government in the United States, Meiklejohn was both beloved and reviled during his long life. Brilliant and dedicated, he could also be stubborn and arrogant, and his passion for his own ideals led to frequent clashes with prominent and powerful critics. The son of reform-minded, working-class immigrants from Scotland, Meiklejohn rejected the spiritually agnostic and politically instrumentalist philosophies of his Progressive-Era contemporaries, many of whom, he argued, simply took democracy for granted. As dean of Brown University at the outset of the twentieth century, he lamented the disintegration of the old classical curriculum and questioned the rising influence of amoral science in modern higher education. He served as president of Amherst College during the culturally turbulent years of World War I, a director of the famous Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin during the late 1920s and early 1930s, and as a delegate to UNESCO after World War II. An outspoken defender of the First Amendment during the McCarthy era, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. "Alexander Meiklejohn was a self-proclaimed idealist living in an increasingly pragmatic age, and his central question remains essential today: How can education teach citizens to be free?" "A splendid piece of work. It is a fascinating character study of an extraordinary figure in American intellectual and educational history. Nelson presents a very balanced portrait of the man, his strengths and weaknesses."—Charles W. Anderson, author of Prescribing the Life of the Mind Adam R. Nelson is assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. Previously a lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University, he is currently working on a history of internationalism in American higher education.

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