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ERIC Number: EJ788509
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 36
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0003-3790
A Disciplinary Immigrant. Alexander Smith at the University of Chicago, 1894-1911
Cotter, Donald
Annals of Science, v65 n2 p221-256 Apr 2008
The publication in 1906 of Alexander Smith's "Introduction to general inorganic chemistry" inaugurated a decisive change in chemical pedagogy in the US, the effects of which are still evident. The nature and extent of Smith's innovations are described through a comparison of his text to its source material and contemporaries. His authoritative command of and whole-hearted commitment to the intellectual framework of Ionist physical chemistry set his text apart from its American competitors, while his efforts to make the tools of physical chemistry immediately useful to his readers distinguished it from its most immediate source material, Wilhelm Ostwald's "Grundlinien der anorganischen Chemie". Smith's curricular innovations in chemistry were a practical expression of his radically restrictive view of the social role of collegiate education, which he conceived as solely of use for its ability to prepare students for professional life. During the fifteen years prior to the publication of his groundbreaking textbook, Smith underwent two critical, formative experiences. First, he retreated intellectually from the structural organic chemistry in which he was trained, ultimately adopting a professional identity as a physical inorganic chemist. His involvement in the controversy regarding the structure of 1,3-diketones reveals much about his reasons for eventually abandoning organic chemistry. Second, he served the National Education Association as chairman of the Sub-committee on College Entrance Requirements in Chemistry, in the process making a close study of the ends and methods of secondary and collegiate education. These experiences made him unique among proponents of physical chemistry in the US, and help account for the unique nature of his contributions to the development of the chemical professions. (Contains 5 figures and 168 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois