Published: 10-10-2011, 15:12

Harold O. Rugg (1886–1960) - American Education

American educator, author and leader of the RECONSTRUCTIONISM movement that sought to use education to reform the American social system during the devastating economic depression of the 1930s. Born in Massachusetts, he received his advanced degrees at Dartmouth College before teaching at three universities in Illinois and eventually becoming a professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1920—joining a faculty that included John Dewey and a crowd of Dewey disciples who believed formal education should imbue all children in the principles of democracy.

Rugg and his colleague George S. Counts attempted to translate reconstructionism into practical terms. While Counts tried to whip American teachers into a reconstructionist frenzy, Rugg and his Teachers College students spent the years from 1921 to 1928 producing the 12-volume Rugg Social Science Pamphlets, which became the most popular social-studies texts of their day. Both critical and appreciative of the United States, the pamphlets were distributed to more than 5 million American schoolchildren in about 5,000 school systems— until 1940, when patriotic and business groups attacked them as subversive and effectively banned them from almost all American schools. A group in Bradner, Ohio, even burned them.

A veteran of World War I and a prolific author, Rugg wrote the influential The Child-Centered School (1930), Culture and Education in America (1931), American Life and the School Curriculum (1936), Progressive Education at the Crossroad (1938), That Men May Understand (1941), Foundations for American Education (1941), The Teacher in the School and Society (1950) and The Teacher of Teachers (1952).