Upon what meat have you fed
that you can…
Lost department mourned
It was with great sadness that I read of the
untimely death of Rebecca Barr, AM’61, PhD’68 (August/03).
I had the privilege of working with Becky in the University of Chicago
reading clinic. Becky was a worthy successor to Helen M. Robinson
and Helen K. Smith, previous directors.
The University once had a world-renowned education
department (and, at one point, a School of Education): John Dewey
and the Lab Schools; William S. Gray and his successors in reading;
adult education; elementary education; pre-school education; and
Norman Burns in higher education (who headed the North Central Association’s
commission on colleges and universities). Many of the outstanding
educators at this and other universities and colleges received their
major training at Chicago.
There are still some fine individuals at the
U of C working on educational and related concerns, but the University
appears to have chosen business over education. This is not to put
down science and the humanities or the other outstanding social-science
researchers and practitioners. But, in this time of need for an
educated world beyond the ivy-covered walls, there are many of us
who still feel that the elimination of the education department
was a mistake.
Joan L. Staples
Provost Richard P. Saller comments:
The Department of Education had a great tradition, and its closing
represented a loss to the University, but readers should also know
that the University plans to be a source of innovation again in
the field of education. The Center for School Improvement (CSI)
is working closely with the Chicago Public School system to integrate
educational research with teacher education and classroom practices
in a concerted effort to improve schools on the mid–South
Side of Chicago. The North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School, run by
the University, is a true laboratory school for urban education,
implementing curriculum and best practices developed by CSI. A blue-ribbon
external review found the charter school to be one of the most exciting
experiments in urban education in the country, a finding corroborated
by recent test scores. The charter school will serve as one of the
bases for a new urban-teacher preparation program in the College,
begun this academic year. If these programs are successful, the
University stands to make a big impact directly on the public schools
of Chicago and indirectly as a new model for the country. Education
has not lost its centrality in the University’s mission.
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