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Mutual Subversion: A Short History of the Liberal and the Professional in American Higher Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2017

David F. Labaree*
Affiliation:
Stanford University School of Education

Extract

I want to tell a story about American higher education. Like many historical accounts, this story has a contrapuntal quality. As we know, historians frequently find themselves trying to weave discordant themes into complex patterns in the hope of making harmony. The reason for this is that simple themes are hard to find in the account of any complex social institution, especially one like education, which is composed of a motley accumulation of historical residues and social functions. We often come across one point about education that makes sense and then find a counterpoint that also makes sense. If we cannot eliminate one in favor of the other, then we try to put them together in a way that does not violate the rules of harmony and historical logic. In the effort to do so we, therefore, find ourselves in the business of writing fugues.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by the History of Education Society 

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References

1 Norton Grubb, W. and Lazerson, Marvin The Education Gospel: The Economic Power of Schooling (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004).

2 Veysey, Laurence R. The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965).

3 Kerr, Clark The Uses of the University, 5th ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 714.

4 Goodwin, Gregory L.A Social Panacea: A History of the Community-Junior College Ideology“ (ERIC document ED 093-427), 157.

5 Trow, MartinAmerican Higher Education: Past, Present, and Future,“ Educational Researcher 7: 3 (March 1988): 1323; Dominic J. Brewer, Susan M. Gates, and Charles A. Goldman, In Pursuit of Prestige: Strategy and Competition in U.S. Higher Education (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002).

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6 Brown, David K. Degrees of Control: A Sociology of Educational Expansion and Occupational Credentialism (New York: Teachers College Press, 1995).

7 Levine, David O. The American College and the Culture of Aspiration, 1915–1940 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986).

8 Dunham, Edgar Alden Colleges of the Forgotten Americans: A Profile of State Colleges and Universities (New York: McGraw Hill, 1969).

9 Brint, Steven and Karabel, Jerome, The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900–1985 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

10 Brint, StevenThe Rise of the ‘Practical Arts,'“ in The Future of the City of Intellect: The Changing American University ed. Brint, Steven (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 231259.

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11 Geiger, Roger L. Knowledge and Money: Research Universities and the Paradox of the Marketplace (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

12 Labaree, David F. How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning: The Credentials Race in American Education (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).

13 Brint, The Rise of the ‘Practical Arts,'238.

14 Brubacher, John S. and Rudy, Willis, “Professional Education,” in ASHE Reader on the History of Higher Education ed. Goodchild, Lester F. and Wechsler, Harold S. (2nd ed.) (Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 1997), 379393.

Google Scholar

15 Hughes, Everett C. and DeBaggis, Agostino M.Systems of Theological Education in the United States,“ in Education for the Professions of Medicine, Law, Theology, and Social Welfare eds. Hughes, Everett C., Thorne, Barrie, DeBaggis, Agostino M., Gurin, Arnold, and Williams, David (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973), 169200.

Google Scholar

16 Thorne, BarrieProfessional Education in Law,“ in Education for the Professions of Medicine, Law, Theology, and Social Welfare Hughes et al. (eds). 101–168.

17 Goodlad, John I. Teachers for Our Nation's Schools (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990), 247.

18 Schlossman, Steven Sedlak, Michael, and Wechsler, Harold, The “New Look:” The Ford Foundation and the Revolution in Business Education (Santa Monica, CA: Graduate Management Admission Council, 1987); Steven Schlossman and Michael Sedlak, The Age of Reform in American Management Education (Santa Monica, CA: Graduate Management Admission Council, 1988); Steven Schlossman, Robert E. Gleeson, Michael Sedlak, and David Grayson Allen, The Beginnings of Graduate Management Education in the United States (Santa Monica, CA: Graduate Management Admission Council, 1994).

19 There is a parallel in secondary education as well. As Angus and Mirel have shown, vocational courses in the high school never constituted more than 10 percent of course-taking, and a lot of those courses were general education under vocational labels (business English, business math). David Angus and Jeffrey Mirel, The Failed Promise of the American High School, 1890–1995 (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999).

20 Levine, The American College and the Culture of Aspiration, 60.

21 Durkheim, Emile The Evolution of Educational Thought: Lectures on the Formation and Development of Secondary Education in France [1938] (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969).

22 Turner, RalphSponsored and Contest Mobility and the School System,“ American Sociological Review 25 (October 1960): 855867.

Google Scholar

23 Brint, The Rise of the ‘Practical Arts;'“ Richard Chait, “The ‘Academic Revolution’ Revisited,” in Brint (ed.), The Future of the City of Intellect: 293–321; Andrew Abbott, “The Disciplines and the Future,” in Bring (ed.), The Future of the City of Intellect: 2002, 205–230.

24 The Morrill Act, 1862 (12 United States Statutes at Large, 503–505), section 4.

25 For example, there are Michigan and Michigan State, Texas and Texas A & M. An exception that proves the rule is Ohio State, whose official name is The Ohio State University, in order to distinguish itself from the older private institution named Ohio University and also show that the “State” label should not lead anyone to assume it is not the flagship institution.

26 As Jeff Mirel has pointed out to me, even community colleges have made moves in this direction. They are prevented from evolving into universities, but educational compacts in many states offer community college graduates with AA degrees junior standing at public universities. This makes community colleges major providers of general liberal education in those states.

27 Veysey, The Emergence of the American University; Kerr; The Uses of the University; Brown, Degrees of Control; Levine, The American College and the Culture of Aspiration; Dunham, Colleges of the Forgotten Americans; Brint and Karabel, The Diverted Dream; Brint, “The Rise of the ‘Practical Arts;'” and Geiger, Knowledge and Money.

28 Labaree, How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning; see also Randall Collins, The Credential Society: An Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification (New York: Academic Press, 1979).

18
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