Monday, April 23, 2007

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 1896-1904 (the Dewey Years)

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools are internationally known and respected. In order to fully understand and appreciate the factors that led to the establishment of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (known as the Dewey School from 1896 to 1901) one must not only inform themselves on John Dewey and his educational philosophy but also on William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago. A third individual who was influential to the organization and early development of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools was Colonel Francis Wayland Parker. The following brief description provides some historical context and reveals the relationships between John Dewey, William Rainey Harper and Colonel Francis Parker.

One cannot discuss the history of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, specifically the first years of the school, without giving significant credit given to William Rainey Harper. President Harper, along with John D. Rockefeller, had the early vision to make the University of Chicago a world class institution of higher education. During the first few years of the University of Chicago’s existence, President Harper was charged with the task of recruiting educational leaders from across the country to become faculty members. Although John Dewey was first to make contact with President Harper, it was President Harper who understood and agreed with Dewey’s vision and invited Dewey to Chair the Department of Philosophy and allowing him to develop the University of Chicago into a leader in pedagogy. Two years prior to coming to the University of Chicago to Chair the Department of Philosophy in 1896, John Dewey wrote to President Harper informing him what other institutions, including Cornell, Harvard, and Columbia, were doing in the fields of pedagogy and experimental psychology (Harms and DePencier, p. 3). It is notable that in 1894, when John Dewey wrote President Harper, the University of Chicago was only two years old and it was already being compared to the Ivy League. John Dewey’s tenure at the University of Chicago was from 1894 to 1904 until his departure to Columbia University.

After the Civil War, Colonel Parker served as the school Superintendent in Quincy, Massachusetts and then came to Chicago in 1880 to serve as Principle of the Cook County Normal School. In 1899 a wealthy philanthropist from Chicago, Mrs. Emmons Blaine, wanted to start a private school called the Chicago Institute to serve as a teachers college under the leadership of Colonel Francis Parker. Mrs. Blaine’s commitment to provide one million dollars was very appealing to President Harper and the Chicago Institute became the School of Education at the University of Chicago in 1901 (Harmes and DePencier, p. 7) or 1902 (Mayhew and Edwards, p. 12). The Dewey School had already been operational under the direction of John Dewey and the University’s Department of Pedagogy for approximately five years by the time that Colonel Parker and his Chicago Institute began their affiliation with the University of Chicago. Both Dewey and Parker were progressive but held many differing views on education. Parker’s school was heavily endowed while Dewey’s school had no endowment. For a couple of years, the University of Chicago operated two separate elementary schools, the Dewey Laboratory School and the Parker University Elementary School (Harms and DePencier, p. 7). In 1902 (Harmes and DePencier, p. 8) or 1903 (Mayhew and Edwards, p. 14), Colonel Parker died and after much discussion between President Harper and the trustees, Harper agreed to merge the two schools along with two other local schools (The Chicago Manual Training School and the South Side Academy) and John Dewey became head of the School of Education at the University of Chicago (Mayhew and Edwards, p. 14).


Harms, W., & DePencier, I. (1996). Experiencing education: 100 years of learning at The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Orland Park, IL: Alpha Beta Press.

Mayhew, K.C. & Edwards, A.C. (1966). The Dewey School: The Laboratory School at The University of Chicago, 1896-1903. New York: Atherton Press.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Brief History of the Fulbright Legislation and Biography of Senator J. William Fulbright

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to introduce a bill for reference to the Committee on Military Affairs, authorizing the use of credits established abroad for the promotion of international good will through the exchange
of students in fields of education, culture, and science

J. William Fulbright, freshman Senator from Arkansas
One afternoon in late September, 1945 during a routine session of the U.S. Senate

A Bill to amend the Surplus Property Act of 1944 to designate the Department of State as the disposal agency for surplus property outside the United States, its Territories and possessions, and for other purposes

The Fulbright Act of 1946

In 1945, as a direct response to the tragedy of World War II, freshman Senator J. William Fulbright from Arkansas introduced legislation sponsoring exchange programs for students and faculty between the United States and foreign countries that was eventually signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on August 1, 1946. Fulbright (1976) stated that “it is…fair to say that the Exchange Program is an instrument of foreign policy, not just for the Untied States, for all participating nations – as well as a memorable educational experience for the individual participants” (p. 2). The educational exchange and foreign language components from additional legislation such as The U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (also known as The Smith-Mundt Act), amendments to The Mutual Security Act in 1952, and The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958 were consolidated into The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (better known as The Fulbright-Hays Act). The Fulbright-Hays Act remains law today and represents the world’s flagship international educational exchange policy and program. The Fulbright Act set in motion a great history of international exchange between the United States and the rest of the world. The year 2006 marked the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Program.

The following is a summary of J. William Fulbright’s biography from the Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs of the U.S. State Department: J. William Fulbright received his B.A. degree in 1925 from the University of Arkansas followed by an M.A. degree from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. During the early 1930’s Fulbright studied law at George Washington University followed by a brief stint working for the Justice Department and lecturing at George Washington University’s School of Law. In 1936 he began lecturing in law at the University of Arkansas and from 1939 to 1941 he served as president of this same institution, at that time he was the youngest serving university president. Fulbright was elected to the United States Congress in 1942 and served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He then served in the United States Senate from 1945 to his retirement in 1974. During his tenure in the Senate he was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1949 to 1974, serving as committee chairman from 1959 to 1974. Senator J. William Fulbright was one of the most influential politicians of his time.


Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs. (date unknown). Biography of J. William Fulbright. Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs, United States Department of State. URL retrieved November 11, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

The Fulbright Act (Public Law 584; 79th Congress).

Fulbright, J.W. (1976). The most significant and important activity I have been privileged to engage in during my years in the senate. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 424, 1-5.

Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, 22 U.S.C. § 2458a (Fulbright-Hays Act).