HomeΦιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 21 no. 1 (2020)

HERBERT SPENCER AND THE “CARDINAL PRINCIPLES OF SECONDARY EDUCATION” (1918)

Peter M. Collins

 

Abstract:

The focus of this small contribution to (the dearth of) studies in the history of philosophy of American education falls upon the backside of the cultural upheaval between 1880 and 1920. The general purpose is to relate aspects of Herbert Spencer’s philosophy of education to pedagogical principles in the Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education, a document of the National Education Association’s Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, published in 1918. An attempt is made to implement this purpose by analyzing the educational principles in the NEA report, by clarifying Spencer’s educational principles in relationship to the report, and by explaining Spencer’s philosophical principles and relating them to the CRSE document. In addition to similarities between specific Spencerian principles and the 1918 report, especially noted is the ideological proximity of the “spirit” of Spencer’s evolutionary naturalism and empiricism (or positivism) to the Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education.