Founding Mothers!

…and others. It’s the title of an old book edited by Alan Sadovnik and Susan Semel on the women who came before us in education (Palgrave, 2002. What a crew! Each chapter is written by a different author, and between them they cover Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Marietta Johnson, Caroline Pratt, Margaret Willis, Margaret Haley, Elsa Flagg Young and many more. Willis was a name I didn’t remember and ended up feeling the closest to. She saw the Ohio University lab school as a place to explore “democracy as a way of life.” It was, she believed the purpose of schooling in America. Her story reminds us of the importance of a good school in the intellectual development of teachers. “I try to hold my tongue for two days and then if the thing still has to be said for my piece of mind, I say it.” She spent 36 years in the classroom, and demonstrates the power of “saying it”. Full disclosure: the penultimate chapter is partly about me and Lillian Weber, But even if you skip it, as I seemed to have skipped the whole book for a decade, it’s a must read.

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