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.
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.