In many ways, the historiography of progressive education parallels American historiography as well as the historiography of education. This comes as no surprise when we realize the American Historical Association (AHA) has played a major role in the professional foundations of both. While early twentieth century historians emphasized national unity, homogeneity, and the importance of America's destiny, historians of education, mostly educators, produced inspiring histories that sought to ennoble the new profession of teaching. However academic arguments of relevance, presentism, and utility came to haunt both historical traditions. Academic historians debated the value of presentism while, educators debated the relative merit of functional and non-functional scholarship. The 1930s represented a watershed as the Depression created fertile ground for the functionalists in departments of education and progressive historians with a sense of the present in the AHA (Appleby, Hunt, & Jacob, 1994; Breisach, 1983; Cohen, 1976). The two traditions came together in the thirties for the common purpose of outlining a reconstructed program for social studies education in the schools (Bowers, 1969; Kliebard, 1987). Yet their paths once again diverged. Bernard Bailyn (1960), in the name of professional historians, charged educators were propagating a narrow view of history, and education historians such as Ellwood Cubberley were guilty of using history to promote the glories of the education profession. Bailyn urged historians to think of education "not only as formal pedagogy but as the entire process by which a culture transmits itself across the generations" (p. 14). Lawrence Cremin amplified Bailyn's position in The Wonderful World of Ellwood Patterson Cubberley (1965). Together these invited the attention of educational historians to what Diane Ravitch (1978) refers to as the Bailyn-Cremin critique.
Santora, Ellen Durrigan
"Historiographic Perspectives of Context and Progress During a Half Century of Progressive Educational Reform,"
Education and Culture:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/eandc/vol16/iss1/art2