kitchen table math, the sequel: Faking it

Friday, March 27, 2009

Faking it

In An Experiment with a Project Curriculum (1923) Ellsworth Collings reports on an experiment he directed as county superintendent from 1917 to 1921 at a rural school in McDonald County, Missouri, where the children themselves - not the teacher or the curriculum - determined the projects and topics they would study. Collings claims that the findings of his dissertation strengthened the case for the 'project method' as popularized by his doctoral adviser, William H. Kilpatrick, since the students at the 'experimental school' attained higher scores on standardized tests in writing, reading and arithmetic as well as in social skills, habits and attitudes than the students at the two 'control schools'. Collings's book is a classic of progressive education, and his story of how 10 students were successful in combating an outbreak of typhoid fever in their community is well known among historians and educators even today. A re-examination of the dissertation - in particular of the so-called 'typhoid project' - reveals, however, that the experiment never took place as described and that Collings reconstructed his data substantially in order to conform to Kilpatrick's frame of reference and to present convincing data on the possibility and superiority of child-centred education.

Faking a dissertation: Ellsworth Collings, William H. Kilpatrick, and the 'project curriculum'Michael Knoll
Journal of Curriculum Studies, Volume 28, Issue 2 March 1996, pages 193 - 222
These people really are reprobates.


Barry Garelick said...

See also "Summerhill" by A. S. Neill.

Catherine Johnson said...

Of course, I read Summerhill in high school & loved it!

I've got to read it again.

Catherine Johnson said...

"Michael Knoll is research fellow at Universitaumlt Bayreuth, LS Schulpaumldagogik, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 3, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany. From 1992 to 1994 he was a visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Education, University of South Carolina, Columbia. His primary areas of scholarship are history of education, curriculum theory and comparative education."

Unfortunately, Bobcat doesn't give me access to the article.

I'd love to read it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Apparently this book was a "classic" of progressive education --- !