For the past 60 years a civil war has been raging across the nation. But instead of bullets and shells, the combatants have slashed each other with words, obstinacy, and lack of cooperation.
The battlefields are the American Universities. The opponents--educators.
On one side stand the faculty of the graduate schools of education who hurl back with equal momentum the innuendoes slung at them by the professors of the liberal arts colleges. The root of the controversy, say the Faculties of the Arts and Sciences, is that the schools of education pay too much attention to the mechanics of education, rather than to what subjects to teach.
President Conant, in 1944, appealed to both groups of educators to come to some sort of agreement. "Perhaps the greatest single change that one could hope for in the immediate future," he said, "would be a burying of the hatchet between the professors of liberal arts colleges and so-called professional educators. The two feuding parties," he continued, "have been on the one hand those who profess a knowledge of subjects, and on the other those who profess a knowledge of education, or are teaching in our public schools."
While progress is being made throughout the nation to narrow the gap between the two groups of educators, at Harvard there are definite signs of an Armistice.
The School has a greatly-expanded faculty; it is enlarging the scope of research and scholarly investigation along with the training of a small number of promising students; it is placing great emphasis on the training of administrative leaders for school systems; and it is working in much greater harmony with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Enrollment Reaches 270
The 270 students at present enrolled at the School are a far cry from the white shod, grew-flanneled undergraduates they pass everyday. The would be teachers are one of the oldest groups studying in the University, ranging from 22 to 52 years old. Because so many of them are already teaching in secondary schools, over half are enrolled as part-time students only. These part-time students pay for each course they take separately, eventually accumulating enough credits for one of the various degrees the school offers. Twice as many men as women are enrolled; almost all students live at home or in boarding houses, very few in the Graduate Center.
The School is hampered somewhat by being centered in an old and out-moded building, Lawrence Hall, a red-brick structure near the Jefferson physics lab. The old building, however, is partially compensated for the fact that the school has a young and aggressive dean.
In 1948, Francis Keppel '38 was appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Education. Only 36 years old, the youthful Dean's energy and ability have to a great extent been responsible for the financing and execution of the School's reorientation program.
Assistant Dean of Freshmen from 1939 to 1941, and Assistant to Provost Buck for two years after the war, Keppel has renovated the Graduate School of Education and has had tremendous influence in drawing up the plans for the "truce among educators."
"The Civil War is a waste of time and talent," Keppel commented, "and we can't afford the fight any more. We are doing our best in trying to teach these people in the best way."
The change in the School since Keppel took over is not so much a change in policy as it is a change in staff and emphasis. While the student body has not been appreciably enlarged, there has been a big expansion in research and field projects.
Explaining the reasons for expansion, Keppel stated in 1948 that the "study of fundamental problems of education in our society would benefit from the addition of greater contributions from the systems of analysis and the findings of anthropology, clinical and social psychology, economics, intellectual and social history, political science, philosophy, and sociology . . . The focus of the School's interest must remain steadily upon the educational system of our society."
One of the largest and earliest projects undertaken by the G.S.E. was the establishment of the Laboratory of Human Development in 1949. Created to study the behavior of children, the eventutal goal of the project is to help schools understand the needs, resources, and ideals of the children placed in their care.