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ERIC Number: EJ881609
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
James Bryant Conant and Equality of Educational Opportunity
Urban, Wayne J.
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v46 n1-2 p193-205 Feb 2010
This essay critically examines the commitment of James Bryant Conant to equality of opportunity as a guide for educational practice in his own era and in contemporary society. Noted chemist, president of Harvard University from the 1930s through the early 1950s, and noted analyst of the American high school from the time of publication of his "American High School Today" in the late 1950s, Conant championed a system of educational opportunity that sought to enrich society with the contribution of high academic achievers, whatever their social background. This idea was controversial during Conant's tenure at Harvard, as he tried to open admission to students deserving academically, but not possessed of the normal social and familial backgrounds of Harvard alumni. In addition to seeing equalising educational opportunity as a broadening of the college population, Conant also understood the value of a political sense of educational opportunity, one that sought effective citizenship education for all students, and thought that the public school was the best institution for such effort. In spite of his dual commitment, Conant in a variety of ways emphasised expanding opportunity for gifted students from all backgrounds over citizenship education for all students. The historically bounded character of his commitment is emphasised in the essay, as well as its inappropriateness as a guide for equalising educational opportunity in contemporary times. (Contains 29 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: SAT (College Admission Test)