Historical Dictionary of American Education

By Richard J. Altenbaugh | Go to book overview

W

WASHBURNE, CARLETON WOLSEY (December 2, 1889–November 27, 1968), as the charismatic superintendent of schools in the affluent Chicago suburb of Winnetka from 1919 to 1943, served as a leader in the progressive education* movement. His “Winnetka plan"* attracted international attention, and his extensive writings were translated into several foreign languages.

Washburne was deeply influenced by his mother, who had worked with two well-known pioneers of progressive education, Colonel Francis W. Parker* and John Dewey.* After graduating from Stanford University in 1912, the newly married Washburne, looking for any kind of employment, became a teacher in a rural California school. This experience convinced him that the curriculum had to be individualized to meet the widely differing needs of his pupils. This led him to San Francisco State College, in 1914, where he worked with Frederic Burk, a pioneer in individualized education. Burk recommended Washburne for a superintendency, assuring him that “Winnetka is a very small place; so if you fail, it won't make a very big splash.”

Washburne worked closely with Winnetka's teachers and developed a curriculum based on a form of programmed learning. In addition, as the Winnetka plan evolved, children spent half of each day in “group and creative activities,” based on progressive ideas. Washburne, at the same time, was deeply concerned with developing ways of making schooling more efficient.

In 1943, Washburne joined the U.S. Army and was assigned the task of reopening Italian schools after purging them of their fascist ideology. Six years later he became director of Teacher Education at Brooklyn College. Washburne retired from that position in 1960.

For Washburne's educational views, see A Living Philosophy of Education (1953) and a book he coauthored with Sidney P. Marland, Jr., Winnetka: The History and Significance of an Educational Experiment (1963). Washburne also wrote an autobiography, “An Autobiographical Sketch” (1971). Finally, see

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Historical Dictionary of American Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • A 1
  • B 30
  • C 67
  • D 106
  • E 118
  • F 135
  • G 152
  • H 161
  • I 180
  • J 191
  • K 202
  • L 206
  • M 221
  • N 244
  • O 265
  • P 272
  • R 308
  • S 322
  • T 358
  • U 369
  • V 374
  • W 378
  • Y 391
  • Selected Bibliography 393
  • Index 445
  • About the Editor and Contributors 483
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