A disciplined progressive educator : the life and career of William Chandler Bagley, 1874-1946
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation portrays the life and career of William Chandler Bagley. It details Bagley’s professorships at Montana State Normal College, Oswego Normal School, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and finally at Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition to published works, this dissertation drew upon numerous primary source materials never before considered in relation to Bagley. For too long, Bagley has been regarded merely as an “Essentialist.” Although the founding of Essentialism was a relatively important event in his life, Bagley’s contributions to democratic culture in general and American education in particular were much greater than this one event. Significantly, Bagley wrote prolifically on the subjects of teacher education, xi curriculum, educational theory, educational psychology, history of education, and numerous other fields related to education. Bagley offered American teachers and professors of education a bold social vision that respected subject-matter knowledge and at the same time embraced social change. In addition, Bagley critiqued insightfully several popular Progressive ideas such as the extreme differentiation of the curriculum, the establishment of curriculum based only on students’ interests, and the hasty application of intelligence testing to America’s schools during the post World War I period. This study asserts several positions. First, Bagley was a very complex figure who stood tall during the progressive period in American educational history. Second, he has been misunderstood and misrepresented since his death in 1946. Third, to reduce this misunderstanding and to draw attention to Bagley’s work, this dissertation identified Bagley as a “disciplined progressive.” Bagley simultaneously agreed and disagreed with many tenets of progressive education. In part, the term “disciplined progressive” signifies Bagley’s balanced approach to educational advancement and change. Moreover, Bagley, properly understood, accepted and rejected different aspects of both traditional and progressive education. Also, throughout his life, Bagley attempted to avoid educational fashions and extremism in his effort to retain a balanced outlook toward school improvement. Notably, Bagley’s ideas never fit neatly into specific categories such as Traditional, Progressive, or Essentialist. Finally, this dissertation began a xii necessary and long neglected reinterpretation of all of Bagley’s work and its relation to contemporary educational practice and theory.