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History of Education Studies

The Department of Education Studies has recently emerged out of a long standing tradition of teacher preparation at DePauw University. Its history unfolds to reflect the contested evolution of an American education and the consequent fluidity in definitions of ‘teaching’ and ‘teacher,’ ‘learning’ and ‘learner,’ knowledge and ‘ways of knowing.’

When DePauw first came into existence as Indiana Asbury University in 1837, teaching was not yet looked upon as a profession requiring special training. Yet from the beginning the trustees and faculty evidenced a certain degree of concern for the education of young men who planned to enter the field of common school teaching but were unable or unwilling to undertake the full four-year classical course.  The first indication of an interest in professional training for would-be teachers at Indiana Asbury was the appointment in 1852 of Miles Fletcher as Professor of English Literature and Normal Instruction.  In 1858, a popular alternative to the classically oriented Bachelor of Arts course was introduced.  A four-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science and appealing to students seeking careers in teaching as well as in business now stood in contrast to the standard classical course.  This course curtailed the study of Greek and Latin and extended the study of "those subjects believed to be more specially suited to the business as distinguished from the literary and professional pursuits of life."

In 1869, with the appointment of John Clark Ridpath, there was organized a Normal Department, "intended to qualify the student for the practical work of teaching."  At the beginning of each term a "normal class" was formed of would-be teachers who were given a series of "preparatory lectures." Students continuing in the program would later be organized in an advanced class where they took turns conducting recitations under the supervision of the professor in charge, apparently a kind of embryonic practice teaching! The first normal class consisted of 33 persons, and this was the average maintained for the next 20 years. Two outstanding women graduates of this period, Delilah Miller and Martha Ridpath, were honored by having school buildings named for them in Greencastle where they enjoyed long teaching careers.

After 1881, however, no further mention of a normal class is to be found, and the establishment of a formal system of teacher training had to wait upon the transformation of Indiana Asbury into DePauw University three years later. The change of name to DePauw University in 1884 was concomitant with an ambitious scheme of reorganization that entailed the creation of several graduate and professional schools. Among the latter was a School of Pedagogy, which the first DePauw catalogue announced as under the direction of Thomas Jefferson Bassett, an Asbury alumnus then serving as head of the reparatory department. Washington C. DePauw, who had given his name and promised most of his fortune to the university, took an active interest in the new enterprise. "My thought," he wrote,

 “Is to draw to us a few hundred of the brightest and best young people of the country,

who propose to make teaching a life work, and give them in pedagogics, (sic) elocution,

etc. advantages and training that they do not get elsewhere.”

The Normal School comprised both English and Latin courses, the first three years in length and the latter three years plus one or two additional terms. The English curriculum was divided into five subject areas:  Didactics, History, Geography, English, and Mathematics. The class observation and practice teaching mentioned from time to time in the catalogue may have been carried out in connection with the Greencastle Preparatory School, which replaced the former preparatory department. Classes were held in West College and later in Middle College. Those completing the full course were granted diplomas, and degree candidates in the College of Liberal Arts were permitted to take courses as electives during their junior and senior years. But the majority of students enrolled in the school were below college level, for the only entrance requirement was graduation from the eighth grade.  The dissolution of the Normal School in 1890 did not signal an end to all concern for teacher education at DePauw. Both the School of Music and the School of Art continued to offer methods courses in the teaching of their special school subjects. The college catalogue, for example, described the teaching of drawing as a "delightful and remunerative line of work."

Moreover, a surprisingly large number of DePauw alumni, both men and women, found careers in teaching or school administration. A compilation of alumni occupations made at the turn of the century indicated that educators made up the largest single category, numbering 654, as compared with 510 lawyers and 389 ministers and missionaries. Of these, 51 were college presidents, 128 college professors, 104 city and county superintendents, and 370 teachers at the elementary and secondary levels. Only 163 were reported as businessmen, 147 physicians, and 102 editors and journalists which were the next three categories listed.

Finally, in 1907, the university moved in the direction of establishing an Education Department by the appointment of Thomas Scott Lowden to the dual position of Principal of the Academy (formerly the Preparatory School) and Professor of Pedagogy. The 1903-04 college catalogue listed three courses in education under the rubric Pedagogy: Philosophy of Education, History of Education and Educational Ideals, and School Systems, Superintendency, School Management and Methods.

In 1909 William Harris was brought in to assist him, and the next year the department's title was broadened to Education and Psychology. To teach the latter subject, the university engaged Arthur R. Mead, the first of a series of instructors with psychological training. However, there followed a period of instability in both departmental organization and personnel. Psychology disappeared from the department's title from 1913 to 1916, though courses in educational psychology continued to be offered.

In 1916, the Department of Education and Psychology was reconstituted, enduring another decade.  The combined department offered as many as 20 courses in both education and psychology and provided opportunities for class observation and practice teaching in Greencastle High School.  In the college catalogues, the department advertised itself as a training ground for secondary school teachers and administrators.

After 1926, the Education and Psychology departments went their separate ways, though some instructors taught in both for a time. A combined major in education and psychology was available, but most students enrolled in education courses were candidates for state secondary school certificates and majored in the department of their chosen teaching field. Nevertheless, the Education Department's curriculum was an extensive one, including such courses as Principles of Education, History of European and American Education, Indiana School Law, School Finance, Public School Administration, and Educational Statistics.

The required work in educational psychology was offered in the Psychology Department. In addition, departments in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences provided methods courses for their own majors planning to teach at the secondary level. Thus teacher education at DePauw was the responsibility of virtually the whole university, a practice considered an important factor in producing well-qualified school teachers.

In the academic year 1936-37, students wishing to prepare themselves for elementary teaching were advised to pursue a combined major in education and psychology while electing certain courses in other departments as prescribed by the state licensing board. Since so many of its students were women, the department was perhaps less affected than most by the Second World War, though it was forced to move its headquarters to Speech Hall.  This historical moment strongly suggests an initial shift in the gendered hierarchical structure of the contemporary teaching profession.

The "baby boom" of the late 1940's and the 1950's brought an upsurge in elementary school enrollments throughout the nation along with a demand for an expanded corps of public school teachers, which was reflected in the number of DePauw students opting for a major in education. Total enrollments in the Education Department rose from double to triple digits in this period, reaching a figure of between 250 and 300 each semester. While continuing to send out many men and women into the field of high school teaching, DePauw was now training an even larger number of elementary school teachers, the vast majority of them women.

Moreover, the Education Department played an important role in the growth of the DePauw graduate education program, especially since the enactment of the regulation requiring a master's degree for a permanent teaching license in Indiana. The new degree of Master of Arts in Teaching, developed in 1965 by Clinton Green and Ned MacPhail, included work in both education and subject fields. The department itself offered a wide variety of courses at the graduate level, most of them available in the Evening Division and the Summer School. They included Public School Administration, Comparative Education, Classroom Management, School Finance, and Research in Education. The number of graduate students earning the M.A.T. degree between 1970 and 1985 ranged from 23 to 89.

For many years, DePauw University had been accredited by the North Central Association and enjoyed the approval of the Indiana Department of Public Instruction for its teacher training program. In 1959, the university sought wider recognition from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, a body that not only enforced a set of higher standards for member institutions, but also made possible reciprocal licensing of teachers among a number of states. The Council initially sent representatives to the campus in March 1959 and granted provisional accreditation in August.  In May 1960, DePauw was afforded full accreditation, a status NCATE renewed regularly since that time, with the final accreditation in 2006.  

Follow-up studies of DePauw education graduates revealed a consistently high level of placement in teaching positions as well as a strong sense of personal satisfaction in their careers. In 1977, the Education Department was granted a charter for a local chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society to which certain senior students in education are elected each year. In 1990, a minor in Education Studies was approved by the faculty at DePauw.  This course of study initially encouraged students to investigate school society relationships in national and international contexts.

Demographic trends have affected enrollments in teacher education, perhaps more than any other field. The decline in school-age population that began in the 1970's brought about a corresponding decrease in the number of students planning on careers in teaching and thus the number of those enrolling in education classes.” 

In 2003, the teacher preparation program provided by the Education Department was devolved.  Attempts to reinstate a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) were short-lived.  In its place emerged the Department of Education Studies.  The Minor had become the Major.  In 2008, there were 48 Education Studies majors, in 2011 there were 50.  Consistent recruitment is also evident in the Ed. Studies minor with 40 Education Studies minors in 2008 and 37 in 2011. 

Education Studies now takes its place alongside the "classical" liberal arts disciplines at the institution to encourage a broad based, critical investigation of education systems and educative processes that draws from the social, legal, political, economic, philosophical and psychological foundations of education.  Its curriculum now includes Foundations of Education, Comparative Education, Deconstructing Difference, The Political Economy of Schools, the Art of Teaching, and Education Law, among others. The department has graduated 63 students since its inception.  Some graduates go on to become teachers in the school system and in national and international non-governmental organizations, while others pursue careers in education law and financing, child and juvenile advocacy, counseling, museum curatorship, as well as other options.

Excerpts taken from: Farber, R. (1986). Teacher Education at DePauw University (Sesquicentennial Historical Pamphlet Number Four).  DePauw University.