West Virginia, the Mountain State

By Charles H. Ambler; Festus P. Summers | Go to book overview

Chapter XXIX
The Educational Advance 1910-1955

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY

BY 1910 TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT had come to grips over the control of educational policy in West Virginia: the old school which clung to discipline and experience, and the new school which subscribed to the professional philosophies of Thorndike, Dewey, Giddings, Butler, Kilpatrick, and the McMurrays. The former claimed that teachers were born, the latter that they were made. One emphasized aptitude and scholarship; the other methods and professional training. Although the old school was still dominant in 1910, it stood on the defensive as it lost ground to the advancing forces of the new. Himself a former disciplinarian of the first order, Professor J.N. Deahl of the University, who had received a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, was the acknowledged leader of the new educators.

Taking a cue from politics and business, the new school educators sought their objectives through control of administrative machinery. In line with this policy, the state board of education, the state board of regents, the state textbook commission, and the state vocational board were abolished in 1919 and their duties were assigned to a bipartisan state board of education of seven members, including the state superintendent of free schools. To assist this board in the performance of its duties with respect to Negroes, the act of 1919 authorized the creation of an advisory council composed of three resident Negroes, one of whom was state Supervisor of Negro schools. As never before or since, the state board of education was manned and controlled by new school educators.

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