Interesting article about psychology in our schools

How Psychology Made Its Way into Our Schools

Written by Sharon Hillestad, Director of Tutoring

William James, psychologist

William James

William James, 20th century philosopher, wrote, “The teachers of this country have its future in their hands.” Assuming William James is correct, we should be concerned not only about what our teachers are teaching, but also what they are being taught. Since college professors are the teachers of teachers, any examination of teachers should start with them.

William James had a mighty impact on American public education. He advocated professional training for teachers based on the then new “science” of psychology. He, along with John Dewey, forwarded “Progressive Education.”

Normal schools for teachers were established in 1835 and training to become a teacher only lasted a few weeks.  By 1859, these training centers were mostly controlled by those followers of John Dewey who were indoctrinated in German psychological theories. Training teachers became a longer affair. It stretched to two years.

I attended one of the last Normal Schools in Wisconsin.  I was certified to teach all eight grades and all subjects when I graduated after two years. Since I was aware that teachers would have to have a college degree soon, I decided to continue training at a state university.  I earned a four year degree in 1966; I was certified to teach grades one to four! Two more years of education and I was certified to teach half as many grades.  

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