Connections and Contradictions Between Progressive and Accommodationist Education Reforms From the 1860s
Author(s)Vaughan, Kelly P.
Contributor(s)Watkins, William H.
African American education
Booker T. Washington
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AbstractIn my dissertation, I explore some of the contradictions within the Progressive Education Movement through a historical analysis of the relationship between progressive and accommodationist curriculum workers and funders from the 1860s through the 1930s. Using a combination of primary sources, secondary sources, and archival data, I examined the manner in which different reform agendas were conceptualized as “progressive” and then explored the embodied contradictions exhibited by three curriculum workers/funders: John Dewey, Booker T. Washington, and Julius Rosenwald. In my dissertation, I draw heavily from the conceptualization of accommodationist education offered by William Watkins (1993, 2001) and from popular considerations of progressive education (Schubert, 1986; Kliebard, 1995; Cremin, 1964). I suggest that within a context of scientific racism, regionalism, changing economic and political realities, and theoretic and practical ambiguity within the Progressive Education Movement, many progressive educators supported and/or ignored the creation of accommodationist schooling in African American communities. My study suggests a number of limitations within the early progressive movement, including: ideological contradictions in progressive reforms; the failure of many progressive reformers to challenge white supremacy and racism in schools and society; and a lack of representation of African American scholars and educators in the early progressive movement. I believe this study is significant because it suggests the deep entanglement between the roots of progressive education and accommodationist ideology in ways that continue to impact our schools today.