OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Gerald Lee Gutek

Portrait of Gerald Lee Gutek

Gerald Lee Gutek is a professor emeritus of education at Loyola University Chicago, where he taught, with a joint appointment in history, from 1963 to 1997 and also served as dean of education from 1979 to 1985. He has been a visiting professor at Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount), Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University, Otterbein College, and the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He is the author of more than twenty books in the history of education, biography, philosophy of education, and historical travel, including Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introduction (5th edition, 2011) and An Historical Introduction to American Education (3rd edition, 2012). Most recently, he is a coauthor, with Patricia A. Gutek, of Bringing Montessori to America: S. S. McClure, Maria Montessori, and the Campaign to Publicize Montessori Education (2016), a Choice outstanding academic book.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

The presentation analyzes how changing interpretations, often ideologically based, in the historiography of education about the origin, development, and role of public school in the United States have shaped the professionalization of teachers, especially in teacher education programs. Since departments of history contribute to teacher preparation, this historiography should be of interest to historians generally as well as to historians of education. This talk analyzes four interpretive historical frames: Celebrationist-Whig, Liberal-Progressive, Cremin-Bailyn, and Revisionist. The Celebrationist-Whig interpretation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries lauded the establishment of common schools as one of the greatest achievements of American democracy; it saw the origins of public schools in the New England town and emphasized the need for state systems and standards. The Liberal-Progressive interpretation of the 1930s and 1940s portrayed progressivism as a child-centered and social reform movement to revitalize schools that had become too formal and routinized. The Cremin-Bailyn redirection of the 1950s and early 1960s which challenged the long-standing interpretations as too narrowly focused on schools broadened them to include non-formal education in families, churches, clubs, and the media. The Revisionist interpretation, beginning in the late 1960s, alleged that earlier interpretations had constructed a largely false history of American education and schools that failed to see them realistically as agencies of social control designed to impose the status quo on minorities and other oppressed groups. Revisionist historians re-interpreted the African American and Native American school experience. The talk concludes with a consideration of the status of history of education in contemporary teacher education programs.
The presentation’s historical context occurs when Montessori education, popularized by S. S. McClure and the press, attracted public interest. However, it had little support among professional educators. In this situation, the actual implementation of Montessori education fell on Americans Montessori had trained as directresses, namely George, Pyle, Parkhurst, and Naumburg. The focusing questions are: How did personal and professional relationships between Montessori and her American trainees affect the success of the implementation? How did Montessori’s style of leadership affect the implementation?
Historians of education have generally treated Margaret Naumburg (1890-1983) as a leader in child-centered progressive education. From a broader biographical perspective, the presentation paper examines four phases in Naumburg’s life: (1) as a pioneer American Montessori educator, 1913-1916; (2) as founder of the progressive Children’s/Walden School, 1916-1928; (3) as a Spiritualist Parapsychology researcher, 1929-1939; (4) as a leader in Art Therapy, 1940-1960.
A commentary on how the progressive publisher, S.S. McClure, used McClure's Magazine to promote and market Maria Montessori and her educational method in the United States from 1910-15. Examines the tempestuous relationship between McClure and Montessori and Montessori's 1913 speaking tour in the U.S. Analyzes of the use of a popular magazine in promoting educational change.