“Teachers and administrators find answers to their problems through cooperative study” – Willard E. Goslin, Superintendent of Schools, Webster Groves (Mo.)

Willard E. Goslin, Superintendent of Schools, Webster Groves (Mo.)

In 1941, in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States and her allies came together to create the United Nations. Just as these democratic nations were facing a state of emergency, so too were educators, argued Willard E. Goslin, superintendent of schools in the Webster Groves (Mo.) School District. In his 1944 article “When We Work Together” Goslin encourages educators to band together to fight the looming education crisis, and emulate our nation’s democratic principles in their schools and districts.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The United Nations had to get together in order to survive. The emergency in education is not so dramatic. However, the need for the teachers of this country to begin to work together more effectively may be quite as critical from the viewpoint of the long-run welfare of education and our democracy as that facing the United Nations.

America needs now as it has never needed before a generation of citizens who are able to actively participate in democratic processes-citizens who have an appetite for democratic living because they have had a taste of it. We as teachers cannot possibly understand the implications of living in a democratic society if we do not have daily experience in living and working in a situation where democracy operates.

This makes imperative the need on the part of school systems all over the country to break away from the traditions which have bound us in the past – traditions which have set administrators apart from classroom teachers and high school teachers apart from elementary teachers-traditions which have tended to make all of us willing to accept a type of organization or approach which invites dictation in its operation and which is frequently, therefore, destructive of the finer capabilities of those working within the organization.”

Read the article: When We Work Together (PDF)

Who is Williard E. Goslin?
(Source: International Honor Society in Education)

Willard E. Goslin (1899–1969) championed progressive education in American public schools. Though he may be remembered best for his confrontation with McCarthy-ite forces during his tenure as Superintendent of Schools in Pasadena, California, he was a nationally recognized leader in public education.

During his tenure as superintendent in Webster Grove, a suburb of St. Louis, Goslin initiated a systemic change in teacher in-service training based on collaboration between teachers and administrators. Throughout his career, he continued to encourage teacher participation in all areas of school administration. He believed that if schools were to teach students to live in a participatory democracy, they should exemplify participatory democracy with everyone having a say, including teachers (Goslin 1944).  Click here to learn more http://www.kdp.org/meetourlaureates/laureates/willardgoslin.php

Sources Cited:


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