William Heard Kilpatrick Collection
Dr.William Heard Kilpatrick is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and education at Teachers College, Columbia University where he taught from 1912 – 1937. He is considered one of the most popular professors ever at Teachers College having taught more than 35,000 students during his tenure. As a highly effective proponent of progressive education, advocating project-based learning, curriculum learning, and whole child education, Kilpatrick completed his bachelor’s degree at Mercer University in 1891.
He undertook graduate study in mathematics at Johns Hopkins University and in 1897, Mercer University offered him a faculty position in mathematics and astronomy. He later served as acting president of the school from 1903–1905
Kilpatrick’s immensely popular article “The Project Method” (1918) made him well known among educators throughout the United States. This approach focuses on the interests of children, which advocates that by using their interests as units of study, learning becomes more relevant and meaningful. His most prominent book Foundations of Method (1925) became a widely used textbook in education courses nationwide.
In addition to teaching and writing, Kilpatrick engaged in a variety of other endeavors related to the promotion of progressive education principles. A cofounder of Bennington (VT) College, he served as president of its board of trustees from 1931–1938. He also formed the Kilpatrick Discussion Group with several other Teachers College faculty members, which met from its inception through World War II. Kilpatrick was a founding member of the John Dewey Society in 1935 and served as the organization’s leader until 1957. He edited the Society’s first yearbook The Teacher and Society (1937) and co edited its ninth yearbook Intercultural Attitudes in the Making (1947).
He taught part time during his first years of retirement, and remained an author and editor. Likewise, he was involved in civil rights causes—a rarity for a Southerner of his generation.
William Heard Kilpatrick Faculty File
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