Education "Pioneer" & 1898 Graduate William Wirt Recalled
March 8, 2009
March 8, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "The first superintendent of Gary schools wasn't a run-of-the-mill educator," begins a story in today's edition of Indiana's Gary Post-Tribune on William A. Wirt. An 1898 graduate of DePauw University, Wirt "introduced the platoon or work-study-play system to American education," writes Sue Ellen Ross. "The work-study-play concept had students divided into two platoons that rotated between academic classrooms and others dedicated to physical or vocational education and the arts."
A high school in Gary is named after Wirt, "who was born in Redkey, Ind., and graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, became Gary school superintendent in 1907. By 1915, the work-study-play system was considered one of the most innovative in the country. Wirt's premise that 'the child is a natural scientist' was one of the reasons he believed in offering a diversified curriculum. For example, milk was tested for impurities during science classes. And nature classes were considered a necessity."
Wirt led Gary's school system for 31 years and received an Honorary Doctorate from DePauw at the 1916 commencement. He passed away in 1938.
Read the article, "William A. Wirt considered pioneer in education," at the newspaper's Web site.Back