The Progressives were in favor of the new method of teaching reading advocated by John Dewey because it fit nicely with their philosophy of education. They strongly agreed with Dewey, whose aim it was to change the focus of education from the development of individual intellectual skills to the development of cooperative social skills. The object of socialism had been from the very beginning to remake man from the competitive being of capitalist society to a cooperative being in a collectivist state. Education was considered the best way to achieve this transformation. Indeed, President Obama’s idea of transforming America is in line with the Progressive aim to create a socialist America.
Dewey’s famous Laboratory School at the University of Chicago (1896-1904), in which his ideas were tested on children, led to the writing of his book School and Society, which became the bible of Progressive education. His ideas were later implemented at the Lincoln School (1916-1946) at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York, where Dewey was invited to set up shop and set the direction for teacher education.
There he joined his two colleagues, James McKeen Cattell and Edward L. Thorndike, who became the chief architects of progressive education. Having received his Ph.D. in psychology under Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, Cattell became head of the Department of Psychology, Anthropology, and Philosophy at Columbia in 1891. Thorndike, who had studied how animals learn at Harvard under William James, completed his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1898 under the supervision of Cattell. In 1899 he became an instructor in psychology at Teachers College, where he remained for the rest of his career, developing his human-animal training program known as the S-R, or Stimulus-Response, learning process.
The Lincoln School, which opened in 1916, with support from the Rockefeller-founded
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