A new education for a new era: the contribution of the confe

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A new education for a new era: the contribution of the confe

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Part 1 of 2

A new education for a new era: the contribution of the conferences of the New Education[al] Fellowship to the disciplinary field of education 1921–1938
by Kevin J. Brehony Froebel College, University of Surrey Roehampton, London, United Kingdom
Paedagogica Historica



This article examines the role played by the conferences of the New Education Fellowship (NEF) in the emerging disciplinary field of the sciences of education between the two world wars. The NEF was a movement connecting lay enthusiasts for educational reform with major figures in the developing disciplines of psychology and education, such as Carl Gustav Jung, Jean Piaget and John Dewey. Use is made of Bourdieu’s concepts of field, forms of capital and habitus to analyse the strategies of agents at the conferences and their relation to developments in the disciplinary field. The NEF is also considered from the perspective of social movement theory as a non-class-based movement of opposition. Seven international conferences on education are discussed plus others in South Africa and Australia. The themes are discussed and their social composition is analysed both in terms of the countries represented and the participation of members of the academy. The origins of the NEF are traced from the Theosophical Fraternity in Education and the leading roles of Beatrice Ensor and Elizabeth Rotten are considered in the framework of habitus. Discussion of the work of Ferriere, the third founder of the NEF, reveals a distinction between philosophical and moral conceptions of education and ones associated with positivism. The location of psychology in this binary is also revealed. Accounts of the conferences held in the 1920s reveal a strong commitment among the leaders of the NEF to the fostering of international understanding and a world consciousness through education and Support for the League of Nations. This and other elements of the NEF’s ideology are characterized as a heretical discourse. Tensions between members of the academy and the other participants are highlighted and the heterogeneity of the audiences are identified as a source of strength as well as friction. The following section addresses the change of emphasis of the NEF in the 1930s in response to the worsening international situation and the involvement of leading figures from the academy. The NEF’s position on research in education and the need to bring teacher training into the academy was made explicit at the conferences held in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. These involved bureaux of education research, which were financed by American foundations, and the combination of the NEF’s network with this money is considered in terms of the field’s development and the consequences for the competition for prestige and other forms of capital. The conclusion reviews the extent to which these conferences contributed to the development of the field and to the necessity for historical accounts of its development to take account of the dimensions analysed by Bourdieu’s conceptual framework.

This article examines the role played by the conferences of the New Education Fellowship (NEF) in the emerging disciplinary field of the sciences of education between the two world wars. As Fuchs points out in an article in the present issue, the field of education at this time was being internationalized, and, being an international movement, the field impacted on by the NEF was international in scope.1 As will be seen, the ideas and practices of the new education were mediated by national cultural differences and thus their impact on the disciplinary field varied from nation to nation.2 In addition, the development of the field in terms of journals, conferences and its institutionalization within nations was uneven, which presents further difficulties when trying to evaluate the impact of the NEF’s conferences. Much of the following discussion focuses on their impact on the disciplinary field in England though, as will be seen, not exclusively so. One of the distinguishing features of the NEF other than its international scope was that it was a movement that connected lay enthusiasts for the educational reforms associated with the new education with major figures in the developing disciplines of psychology and education, such as Carl Gustav Jung, Jean Piaget and John Dewey. The relation between these lay and professional constituencies is examined and conclusions drawn regarding the professionalizing process in the field and the impact of the conferences on educational research and its institutionalization.

The origins of the New Education Fellowship

Between the First and Second World Wars, the New Education Fellowship (NEF) organized seven international conferences on education (see Table 1) and a number of regional ones, notably in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

These conferences organized around themes central to the “New Education” drew large audiences of professionals, administrators and academics working in education. They also attracted a number of lay people who had an interest in education but were neither teachers nor members of the academy, the developing institutionalized, disciplinary field of the sciences of education.3 In England at least the academy was mainly synonymous with the emerging Departments of Education in the universities.4 The presence of lay people with an interest in educational reform and of practitioners at the conferences indicated that the field of education had not been entirely detached from what the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, termed the doxa,5 the taken-for-granted assumptions or orthodoxies of an epoch. The field of education in many countries was marked by its relatively late arrival in the universities and its marginality within the hierarchy of established disciplines.6 Being practical in its focus, the knowledge that the sciences of education produced was not consecrated7 in the way that older disciplines were and the less practice-orientated disciplines were to become. But the route to consecration lay in differentiating educational knowledge from the common sense or doxa of the practice of schooling in the way that clinical medicine was able to differentiate itself from folk medicine. Paradoxically, as the disciplinary field of education in the academy is reliant on securing the adherence of teachers and administrators for its legitimization and is heavily engaged in their training it is always involved in interaction with those groups even when the road to higher status requires distance from them to be maintained.  

Table 1. NEF conferences and attendances 1921–1936

Year / Venue / Attendance

1921 / /Calais / 150
1923 / Montreux / 300
1925 / Heidelberg / 450
1927 / Locarno / 1200
1929 / Elsinore / 2000
1932 / Nice / 1800
1936 / Cheltenham / 1400

Beatrice Ensor

The main animating spirit behind the NEF and for many years its principal representative was Beatrice Ensor (1885–1974), who was essentially a lay figure. In the early stages of her public life she was firmly located in the field of professional educational practice. She trained as a domestic science teacher and taught domestic Science at a Training College in Sheffield before becoming an inspector of girls and women’s education for Glamorgan County Council. During the First World War she became an inspector of schools (HMI) for the South West region of England and while in that post she was based at Bath.8 But [b][size=110]her most significant identity, when she founded the NEF, was that of a Theosophist.9 In 1908, Beatrice de Normann, as she was then, joined the Theosophical Society, which had been founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Dublin-born lawyer William Quan Judge and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott.[/size][/b]10 She also participated in the activities of the New Ideals in Education group whose most prominent member was Edmond Holmes, a former chief Inspector of Elementary Education. This group held its first conference at East Runton in 1914 on the theme of the Montessori Method, which had received the enthusiastic support of Holmes.11

The Theosophical Fraternity in Education

In 1915, de Normann helped found the Theosophical Fraternity in Education, which held its first meetings at the annual conferences of Holmes’s New Ideals in Education group. Among the earliest supporters of the Theosophical Fraternity in Education and one of the few from the academy was William Boyd, a lecturer at Glasgow University and later one of the founders of the Scottish Council of Educational Research.12 Through the Theosophical Society’s international network, the Theosophical Fraternity in Education established sections in France, the USA, India, Australia and New Zealand.13 In 1916, de Normann resigned from her post as HMI and became the general organizer of the Theosophical Educational Trust, which had been founded in India in 1913. The Trust established St Christopher, a “New School” at Letchworth and it also opened schools at Bromley and Grindelford.14 After 1917, the year of her marriage to Robert Ensor, whom she met through the Theosophical Society, she became known by the name of Beatrice Ensor.

From an early stage in its history, the Theosophical Fraternity in Education, in line with the Theosophical Society’s commitment to universal brotherhood, stressed its internationalism. In the Journal of Education’s Directory of Education Associations for 1917 it was described as “an international fellowship of teachers interested in the new ideals of education necessary for the new age”.15 For Theosophists, this new age was to be a new stage of human evolution16 and a “new” education was both to prepare for and adapt a new generation to its requirements. Added to this general expectation was the growing millenarian belief among Theosophists in the early 1920s that the coming of a world teacher was imminent and that the chosen vehicle was Jiddu Krishnamurti.17

In 1920, with a membership of over five hundred, the Theosophical Fraternity in Education held its own conference at Letchworth. Beatrice Ensor was quite specific about how Theosophists were to operate in education. Writing later about this period she recalled how she, “realised how much Theosophy could change one’s approach to the education of a child especially reincarnation, in which consciousness can manifest on the physical plane. I therefore thought of trying to get teachers who were Theosophists into contact through the magazine The New Era and the international conferences”.18 The journal The New Era, which was first entitled Education for the New Era, was begun in January 1920. Its purpose was to communicate the ideas and practices of the “New Schools”. It was internationalist in outlook and it was intended to assist in the establishment of an international fellowship of teachers that would meet “in annual congress”.19

The Calais conference

The first such congress was held at Calais in 1921 and it was attended mainly by primary school teachers from England.20 Boyd wrote that they were “an obscure group of people”.21 In an action that exemplifies cultural specificity, several supporters of the new education from France, including Roger Cousinet, the founder of the free group method,22 and Georges Bertier, a leader of the scouts of France and director of the new school, l’Ecole des Roches, stayed away from the conference believing it to be a vehicle for Theosophy.23 The role of the Theosophists in the conference was consciously discrete.24 No mention was made of the Theosophical Fraternity or of Theosophy in the invitation to attend the conference or during it but the presence of both was evident. In addition to Beatrice Ensor,25 two leading members of the Theosophical Society, Leslie Haden Guest and Harold Baillie- Weaver, who was its general secretary, gave papers and Iwan Hawliczek, an Austrian who taught in England and was a member of the Theosophical Educational Trust, acted as the organizing secretary of the conference.26 Baille-Weaver, who was the President of the conference, was a lawyer and Haden Guest was a doctor and a Labour Party politician. Among the other Theosophists, only Claude Claremont, who was a prominent follower of Montessori,27 could be regarded as a representative of the teaching profession. Like Haden-Guest and Baillie Weaver, the majority of the speakers at Calais had no connection with the academy and few had any connection with the teaching profession. Of those that did, A. S. Neill, co-editor of The New Era with Beatrice Ensor and Miss Pennethorne, Organising Secretary of the Parents’ National Education Union (PNEU), were hardly representative of mainstream teachers.

The topics addressed by the speakers reflected the eclecticism that characterized the New Education. Noticeably, however, much consideration was given to psychology, which in England as in Switzerland28 was already becoming hegemonic in the disciplinary field of education. Elsa Waters spoke on intelligence testing29 and A. S. Neill’s lecture characteristically managed to include references to both the Jungian unconscious and masturbation.30 Neill’s lecture reflected the interest at the time in psychoanalytic approaches and Dr James Young, a student of Jung and a contributor to the modernist, socialist, literary journal, The New Age spoke on “The cultural value of analytical psychology”.31

Although it was claimed that the conference was international and it had attracted attendees from fourteen different countries,32 nearly all of the speakers came from England. Cloudsley Brereton, who spoke on “The French child at home and at school”,33 was an inspector of schools with the London County Council and he is best known for his translations of the work of the French philosopher, Henri Bergson.34 Among the non-English speakers the most eminent were Ovide Decroly35 and Adolphe Ferrière.36 These two fell into the category William Boyd referred to as “doctor-educators” who were prominent in the early stages of the NEF’s development.37 However, Boyd’s category suppresses an important difference among the doctor-educators. Some, like Adolphe Ferrière, tended to be attached to philosophical speculation, “an ethical or moral discourse”38 that constituted the pre-history of the field, whereas others, like the “psycho-pédagogue”39 Decroly, were on the other side of the “paradigm shift”.40 The Belgian educationist Decroly’s contributions to the field of education are well known,41 as is the tension in his extensive work between theory and practice, but his empirical observation, sometimes with the aid of the Binet-Simon tests, and psychological theorizing distinguished him from Ferrière as well as qualifying him for entry to the University of Brussels in 1920 as head of its department of child psychology.42 But any distinction between science and its ideological pre-history is always relative and, while it is useful to distinguish the doctor-educators in this way, the “epistemological break”43 with “common sense” was never complete in the way that the French philosopher of science, Bachelard, famously envisaged such breaks to be.

At Calais, Ferrière, the founder in 1899 of the Bureau of New Schools, at Geneva, related how he sought in psychology the laws of education he felt were lacking within that field.44 His doctorate on “The Law of Progress in biology and sociology” was sociological. He addressed this theme at Calais along with his “laws of psychology”. For the first of these he borrowed heavily from the philosopher Henri Bergson.45 From within the academy, however, approaches like his were not regarded as a scientific but rather as an “experiential” psychology. Writing of the latter, the Belgian advocate of experimental pedagogy, Raymond Buyse, declared that, “What we observe most often is dreadful confusion between experimental science and a sort of philosophy which is said to be scientific but which in fact is not science at all”.46

At the end of the Calais conference, the New Education Fellowship was established. Ferrière became vice-chair of the newly formed New Education Fellowship and he became editor, in January 1922, of Pour l’ère nouvelle, the French-language version of its journal. Elisabeth Rotten became vice-chair for German-speaking countries and a journal, which she edited, was begun which was eventually called Das Werdende Zeitalter. Membership of the NEF was by subscription to any of the three journals. It was also resolved that the editors would organize an international conference every two years.47

Beatrice Ensor became the Organizing Director of the NEF.48 Her early childhood experiences and education made her ideally suited to organizing in Europe. In Bourdieu’s term, she possessed the appropriate habitus for the role. She was French speaking, having been born in Marseilles in 1885. Her father was a shipping representative and in her early life she moved around Europe quite a lot. After attending a school at Genoa she went to a finishing school in England. At the end of the First World War, Ensor was involved in caring for Austrian and Hungarian refugee children49 in schemes organized by the Famine Area Children’s Hospitality Committee, of which she was secretary. This activity required her to travel extensively in Europe and she was able to build up a number of contacts as she did so.

Elizabeth Rotten

It is not entirely clear how Ensor came into contact with Dr Elizabeth Rotten.50 The standard source on the NEF does not contain much about her nor does it have much to say about Ferrière. The impression thereby conveyed is of a movement dominated by Anglophones.51 But this does a disservice to the German reform pedagogy in which Rotten played a significant role as a propagandizer. Between the biographies and interests of Ensor and Rotten there were very strong affinities.52 A pacifist campaigner and, from 1930, a Quaker, Rotten worked during the First World War and its aftermath for the Emergency and War Victims Relief Committee of the English Society of Friends.53 In 1915 she was a representative of the German league for human rights at the International Congress of Women in The Hague.54 Meeting at Zurich in 1919, this body, now the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, resolved to seek to establish a basis for a new human civilization beginning with the education of the peoples. Education, as for many supporters of the NEF, was, in future, to foster international understanding, to develop a world consciousness and to give an introduction to the duties of world citizenship.55 These positions were consistent with those of the Theosophical Society, as was Rotten’s work as head of the Educational Committee of the German Association for the Promotion of the League of Nations. Support for the League of Nations was a recurring motif in the NEF during this period and it was an important element in its ideology or “basic faith”. Rotten also shared Ensor’s enthusiasm for the heretical discourse of the New Education in its German form of the reform pedagogy, which was aimed at changing the way the field of schooling was represented.56 While studying at Marburg, where she gained a doctorate for a study of Goethe, Rotten came into contact with the educational reformers Hermann Lietz, the founder of country boarding schools, and Gustav Wyneken.57 The latter was a follower of Nietzsche and a leader of the Wandervögel,58 the middle-class German youth movement inspired by Romanticism that so impressed Beatrice Ensor.59 In 1919 Rotten had spoken in Geneva at the Institut J.J. Rousseau60 at a conference of the Bundes entschiedener Schulreformer, an organisation she co-founded. Her topic was the attempts to introduce the New Education to schools in Germany. She was associated from 192261 with the school farm, Schulfarm Insel Scharfenberg, begun by Wilhelm Blume62 in Berlin and was a frequent visitor to the Odenwaldschule founded in 1910 by the educational reformer Paul Geheeb.63

Also in her network of friends was the anarchist Gustav Landauer, who was Minister of Culture in the short-lived Munich Soviet (or “Council Republic”) of 1919 before he was shot dead when it was violently suppressed. This association indicates Rotten’s different, more radical approach towards political action from that of Ensor, as did Rotten’s positive evaluation of the Hamburg schools then under the control of Socialists following the revolution of 1918.64 In contrast, writing in The New Era about the Hamburg and Austrian schools, Ensor argued the Theosophical position: that the new education run by the Socialists in Hamburg and Vienna was “very materialistic” and it lacked “a free spiritual atmosphere”.65

From 1926 until 1932 Rotten shared the editorship of Das Werdende Zeitalter with Karl Wilker, an exponent of social pedagogy who transformed the Lindenhof in Berlin.66 The title of this journal was inspired by that of a collection of essays by Gustav Landauer, which his friend, the philosopher Martin Buber, published in 1921. In 1930, Rotten co-founded a school at Hellerau just outside Dresden, where a garden city was established shortly after 1900 as part of a reform movement advocating modern housing. It was to this town that A. S. Neill came in 1921 after speaking at a Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom meeting at Salzburg. He went to the school at Hellerau founded in 1910 by the Genevan, Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, the originator of Eurythmics.67 His stay was relatively short but the town’s attraction for him was evident as, at that time, Hellerau bore many similarities to Letchworth where the Theosophists opened their first school, and it was at Hellerau that Neill began the forerunner to his heretical Summerhill School.68

Adolphe Ferrière

Adolphe Ferrière, like Rotten, was also connected to Hermann Lietz. Between 1900 and 1902, he worked as a volunteer teacher at the Landerziehungsheim at Ilsenburg where Lietz was the headteacher. It was Edmond Demolins, the French sociologist, who suggested to Ferrière that he begin the International Bureau of New Schools.69 Demolins, the founder of the new school, L’Ecole des Roches in Normandy, was impressed by the new schools recently opened at Abbotsholme and Bedales in England. Praising the superiority of the Anglo-Saxons,70 and attributing this, in part, to the new schools, Demolins did much to ensure their imitation in other parts of Europe. As they sprang up, Ferrière organized them into a network, attempted to define their characteristics and hoped to found research institutes promoting their educational ideals.71 This made him a natural choice to head the Francophone section of the NEF, as did his political activity as editor of the Christian Socialist journal L’Essor, from 1918 to 1923. Moreover, while no evidence has been found of him being connected to the Theosophical Society, his outlook was in some ways close to its own. In particular, his work in astrology, which produced his typocosmology by means of which he sought to provide evidence for his anthropological laws, exhibited the same tendency to combine science with occult philosophy.72 Like Rotten and Ensor, Ferrière possessed the habitus necessary for participation in the NEF.

The NEF as a social movement

The conception of education held by the NEF as founded at Calais bore little relation to the notion of education as a science or experimental education as conceived by the positivists, who dominated the embryonic academy.73 The field that Nisbet describes74 of researchers accepting or rejecting hypotheses on the basis of the outcomes of experiments with a view to formulating “law-like generalizations”75 was not one that included the NEF. Instead, in many ways, it bore a much greater resemblance to a social movement than to a disciplinary field.76 Social movement was the description that Percy Nunn applied to the new education at an NEF conference. In explaining why he chose that label he said that, “in its origin it was a gesture of revolt against the older tradition and expressed a felt need for reform”.77 Social movements have been variously defined but the definition offered by Della Porta and Diani is perhaps the most helpful. For them, social movements are, “(1) informal networks,78 based (2) on shared beliefs and solidarity, which mobilize about (3) conflictual issues, through (4) the frequent use of various forms of protest”.79 It may be argued that points 1–3 applied to the NEF, and Nunn’s statement provides some evidence of this, but point 4 is more problematic. Although critical of existing education, the NEF did not actively engage much in protest. Its position was more that of an “alternative” formation, as identified by Raymond Williams in his typology of cultural movements where he distinguished alternative from oppositional, emergent cultural forms.80 While opposed to much that was lumped together as “traditional” education, many within the NEF were content merely to provide alternatives to it in a world-renouncing way as, for example, in the New Schools like St Christopher, L’Ecole des Roches and Odenwald rather than, as Gustav Landauer advocated, to seek to overthrow and replace traditional education entirely.

The provision of new schools in which an alternative form of education could be demonstrated was included in the first aim of the NEF, formulated at its Calais Conference. Its main aim, however, was to seek to introduce its principles “as far as possible into the existing schools, by the methods best calculated to give full effect to them”.81 This strategic formula was intentionally vague, perhaps because their tighter specification would have narrowed the appeal of the movement.

In its early period, political action was emphatically eschewed by the NEF in favour of a struggle for symbolic power. As Beatrice Ensor put it, the NEF realized that reforms of an administrative nature in education were insufficient and that what was needed was, “a change of standpoint as to the aim of education”.82 What that was to be was outlined in the statement of principles published after the Calais conference. Seven principles were adopted and the first was that, “The essential object of all education should be to train the child to desire the supremacy of the spirit over matter, and to express that supremacy in daily life. The new education should therefore, whatever in other respects may be the point of view of the educator, always aim at preserving and increasing spiritual power in the child”.83

This principle is one that is consistent with theosophical views and it was one that was elaborated upon by Beatrice Ensor on many occasions but there is evidence which indicates that Adolphe Ferrière, not Ensor, was responsible for the principle’s formulation. However, as has been seen, the ethical and moral position on education was far from the exclusive preserve of Theosophists. What is more surprising perhaps is the way this approach combined with tendencies towards positivism and empiricism in the “basic faith” of the NEF. Some elements of the “New Psychology” were used to grant the legitimacy of science to the “basic faith” and the “shared beliefs” that were sufficiently ambiguous to permit many different readings of them. Nevertheless, psychology was articulated with the emphasis on the spiritual. Theosophists found the unconscious, particularly as portrayed by Jung, whose interest in spiritualism, alchemy and other aspects of the occult is well known,84 congenial. What is less easy to understand is the interest of the NEF in mental testing, another strand in the New Psychology that was gaining ground in the academy but one that appeared to offer little that was spiritual or even ethical.

The Expansion of the NEF: 1923–1932

The tensions and contradictions in the “basic faith” of the NEF reappeared at its subsequent conferences, the next of which was held at Montreux in 1923 and was entitled “Education for Creative Service”. In addition to doubling the attendance at Calais, the Montreux Conference attracted support from a wider range of countries. There were eighteen represented and the largest contingents came from Britain, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Russia. A small group attended from the United States and also one, half its size, from Germany and Austria.85 The constraints imposed by geography and the local economy prevent this breakdown from being used as evidence of the spread of the New Education but it may be surmised that the relatively large Swiss contingent was not only due to the fact that the conference was being held in Switzerland but to the presence there of institutions supportive of the New Education, including the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which was opened in Geneva in 1912. An additional reason was the role of Ferrière, who in this period was highly active in the cause of the New Education. The contingent from France was significant as it indicated that advocates of the New Education in France, such as the school inspector, Roger Cousinet, had overcome their fear of domination by Theosophists and that the Catholics among them had moderated their objections to coeducation, which was a very important plank in the platform of the NEF.

As at Calais, lectures on the New Psychology were prominent and they included contributions from the psychoanalyst and advocate of the “European Spirit”, Charles Baudouin. Emile Coué – whose work on auto-suggestion was the pretext for Ensor’s split with A. S. Neill86 – and Carl Jung also spoke. After the conference, a number of local conferences were held in Germany, France and Denmark. These were addressed by prominent New Educators such as Ensor, Rotten and Peter Petersen. The latter was a “doctor-educator”, having obtained a doctorate on the philosophy of Wundt. In 1923, after serving as the head of a school in Hamburg, he obtained a post as professor of education and head of the Department of Education, which included the university’s demonstration school at the University of Jena, succeeding the Herbartian Wilhelm Rein. In 1924, this was reorganized and renamed the Erziehungswissenschaftliche Anstalt der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, mit Versuchsschule zur Durchführung von Forschungsvorhaben und Erprobung neuer Formen des Schul- und Unterrichtslebens (The pedagogical institute of the Friedrich-Schiller-University, with a pilot school for the realization of research projects and the testing of new forms of school life and instruction).

The local conferences, Petersen’s chair and the founding of the International Bureau of Education in Geneva in 1925 can all be taken, from the Weberian perspective of the inexorable progress of rationalization, as signs of the institutionalization and partial bureaucratization of the New Education. On the other hand, the award of chairs to some of the NEF’s most prominent figures also reflected the growing opportunities available within the field occupied by the academy. As it expanded, new social spaces and roles appeared in the field for NEF supporters to compete for. From the social movement perspective, institutionalization of this kind may represent the social movement’s demise. As Koopmans has argued, “social movements are characterized by a low degree of institutionalization, high heterogeneity, a lack of clearly defined boundaries and decision making structures, a volatility matched by few other social phenomena”.87

Nevertheless, in this period institutionalization of the New Education was taking place, albeit in a limited fashion. The foundation of national sections of the NEF may also be seen in this context. A Scottish section was established in 1924, the first national section to be formed, and it illustrates how a social movement’s pre-existing networks may coalesce to form parts of the movement. Significantly, the movement in Scotland was said to have received “good support” from the universities and teacher training colleges.88 This was consistent with the need for members of the academy to increase their prestige and cultural capital within the field by dominating the lay members and the less secure professionals such as schoolteachers.

The Heidelberg conference

The next international conference was held at Heidelberg in 1925. The numbers attending continued to increase and thirty nations were represented. Thirty-five came from the United States, including Dr Carson Ryan of Swarthmore College. Ryan was responsible for inviting Beatrice Ensor to visit the United States where she met Carleton Washburne, who subsequently became President of the NEF.89 The attempt to merge the NEF and the Progressive Education Association of America in 1925 ended in failure but in 1932 it became the American section of the NEF.90 At Heidelberg, government-backed official delegations attended from Holland, Poland, Latvia, Austria and France, a sign of the growing respectability of the formerly radical NEF and its prominence as an international body facilitating the exchange of educational ideas and practices. Martin Buber, at the time a lecturer in Jewish religion and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, gave one of the lectures. His work I and Thou had just been published and its main argument was to enter the heterogeneous discourse of the NEF.91 The prominence given to Buber’s lecture also illustrates the continued prominence within the NEF of a moral and ethical discourse on education. Herbert Read used Buber’s speech to the conference in his Education through Art. This book was published in 1943 and was much used subsequently in English teacher training colleges.92

The Locarno conference

Before the next international conference held at Locarno in 1927, the NEF “membership” grew rapidly. The conference attendance was five times larger than that of Calais. One hundred and sixty-two members came from the US following Ensor’s visit there, where she had been in contact with the Progressive Education Association.93 The President of the conference at Locarno was Pierre Bovet, the first director of the International Bureau of Education. Bovet’s work stood at the intersection of philosophy and psychology. Much of it was concerned with the development of moral and religious sentiment.94 But there was another side to his interests. With Claparède in 1920, he organized the first International Conference on Psychotechnology at Geneva. The discussions there were somewhat different from those at the NEF conferences as they dealt with “aspects related to ability assessment and training, as well as to the usefulness of instruments for studying and recording individual performance”.95

This kind of instrumental rationality, which appealed to the academy in their struggle to make education a disciplinary field of equal status to the more established ones, was little in evidence at Locarno where the theme of the conference was “The meaning of freedom in education”. For Arthur Sweetser, a member of the executive committee of the international school at Geneva and unofficial American delegate to the League of Nations, teachers had themselves first to be free. In order to accomplish this, he advised, teachers had, “better give up their first years of training to being psychoanalysed instead of studying dull textbooks”.96 Leaving aside the romanticism of this position and its Rousseau-like rejection of books, it perhaps provides a clue as to why psychoanalytic approaches became subordinated to the psychology of individual differences or mental testing. The latter could provide practical solutions, however spurious, to the classification of pupils and their organization in schools and answers to underachievement whereas the former was decidedly impractical.

At this conference also, Peter Petersen presented for the first time an account of his method. In line with contemporary North American formulations like Helen Parkhurst’s Dalton Plan and Carleton Washburne’s Winnetka Plan, Petersen, on the advice of Clare Soper, an NEF secretary, called his method the Jena Plan. In the following year, he toured the United States, a demonstration of how the NEF network facilitated international exchanges.97 At this point a merger of the NEF and the Progressive Education Association of America (PEA) was being discussed and Harold Rugg, a Professor at Columbia Teachers College who lectured at Locarno,98 joined the NEF as the representative of the PEA.

After the conference the NEF continued to grow with new sections being established in Holland, Poland, Norway and Finland. In England too a national section was begun. Its vice-presidents included school inspectors, the head of a progressive school, the educational psychologist Cyril Burt and the principal of the London Day Training College, Percy Nunn. The committee was composed mainly of heads of progressive schools together with a professor of education from Swansea University, Professor F. A. Cavenagh. Given the distance of the NEF’s “basic faith” from the positivist notions of a science of education that dominated the field in the academy, it might be asked why figures like Nunn and Cavenagh should become involved in the NEF. One possible explanation is that they shared that part of the NEF’s “faith” or ideology that allocated to education researchers the role of making education more effective so that individuals would be produced who would bring about a new society, international in orientation and in favour of peace. Nunn’s own explanation, however, was more consistent with Bourdieu’s notion of why agents enter a field and for what reasons. Nunn wrote of how he had resisted Ensor’s attempts to get him involved in the NEF because he felt that it was a “superfluous thing”. However, he subsequently realized that its “conferences were attended by people from all over the world”. Moreover, these were people who really counted in their education systems, like ministers of education.99 The growing attraction of the NEF for people with power in the international field made Nunn see the potential for the acquisition of what Bourdieu terms cultural and social capital. At this time, Nunn was engaged, together with Fred Clarke, in establishing the Institute of Education in London as a centre for research and teaching for the British Empire,100 a longheld ambition,101 and he saw in the NEF opportunities to further this objective in an international setting. It certainly facilitated the internationalization of the New Education and thereby increased the prestige of its leading figures. Decroly, for example, was able to go to Colombia for two months to lecture. Peter Petersen went to Chile while Ferrière made a tour of Austria, Romania and Turkey in the late 1920s. Leisure time and cultural capital are necessary for active participation in a field but economic capital is also important. Until 1936, money for the NEF that supported these activities came from the Rockefeller Foundation, which also, significantly, contributed substantial funds to the League of Nations.

The Elsinore conference

At the conference at Elsinore in Denmark in 1929 the attendance at NEF international conferences reached its zenith. The theme of the conference was “The new psychology and the curriculum”. A third of those attending were from Scandinavia and another third from English-speaking countries, including a large number from the United States. Also present were lecturers from the more peripheral countries of Europe such as Helena Radlinska, Professor of Education at the Polish Free University, Warsaw and Dimitar Katzaroff from the University of Sofia.102 Katzaroff, the editor of Svobodno Vaspitanie, the journal of the NEF’s Bulgarian section, was appointed by Peter Noikov, a pivotal figure in the disciplinary field of education in Bulgaria.103 The expansion of the NEF presented organizational challenges that led to an attempt at the conference to set up a Consultative Committee in order to form an effective directing body. The English contingent included Nunn and members from the main teaching unions, the Froebel Society and the League of Nations Union. The proceedings of the conference were published in a volume entitled Towards a New Education, which was edited by William Boyd. In his preface, Sir Michael Sadler, a prominent English educationist,104 bemoaned the lack of expenditure on educational research and suggested that all that could be done was to record the results of educational experiments in The New Era and bring those engaged in experiments together at conferences.105 He finished his introduction to the conference volume with the plea, “let us watch, scientifically, what is going on, record what we find, analyse the water which is running under the bridges of education”.106

Milner was the creator of the Round Table Group (since this is but another name for the Kindergarten) and remained in close personal contact with it for the rest of his life. In the sketch of Milner in the Dictionary of National Biography, written by Basil Williams of the Kindergarten, we read: "He was always ready to discuss national questions on a non-party basis, joining with former members of his South African 'Kindergarten' in their 'moot,' from which originated the political review, The Round Table, and in a more heterogeneous society, the 'Coefficients,' where he discussed social and imperial problems with such curiously assorted members as L. S. Amery, H. G. Wells, (Lord) Haldane, Sir Edward Grey, (Sir) Michael Sadler, Bernard Shaw, J. L. Garvin, William Pember Reeves, and W. A. S. Hewins.""

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

Most of the speakers at the conference spoke about their practical activities in new schools. Others spoke about the methods they had patented. Among them was Maria Montessori who, whilst at Elsinore, founded the Association Montessori Internationale. Decroly and Amélie Hamaïde presented a course on Decroly’s method and Helen Parkhurst her Dalton Plan. By contrast and given the theme, contributions from the academy were few and mainly confined to the groups on individual psychology and mental tests. In this section, Jean Piaget spoke on “moral judgement in children” and Kurt Lewin explained Gestalt theory. The standard history of the NEF draws attention to the differentiation of the field of psychology that had occurred by the end of the 1920s. It was currently composed of a number of competing schools and factions that were competing for power in the field of education so that it was now impossible to speak of a unified New Psychology.107 Nevertheless, a movement towards an emphasis on empirical research was evident that was reflected in Sadler’s remarks. Much of the impetus came from the USA and is to be seen in the yearbooks of the National Society for the Study of Education, which began publication in 1927. The research base of the nursery school movement in the USA was in stark contrast with that in England for example and many school systems in the USA had their own Bureau of Research and Guidance such as at Berkeley. The production of knowledge judged scientific in a positivist sense was at the forefront of Boyd’s contributions also. In education, he declared, “there are plainly measurable facts to be dealt with”108 and as evidence he cited the achievements of “the science of mental measurement”, which was providing educationists with a competence they could monopolize109 for professionalization purposes in the USA and the UK. Not that it went unchallenged, as R. Bruce Raup, a philosopher from Teachers College, showed when he argued that the “magic hold of psychology” on education must be broken.110 But the tide was running with the mental testers in the Anglophone countries;111 as opposition to examinations mounted, mental testing seemed to be more just and more efficient.112 Much of the discussion on this topic took place in a context of increasing involvement by the NEF in its own research on examinations, teacher training and nursery schools among other areas.113

More regional and national conferences followed the one at Elsinore, including a Commonwealth Conference organized by Nunn in London to further his plan for an Institute of Education to rival Teachers College, Columbia University and the Institut J. J. Rousseau.114 In France, a new group emerged to take over Pour l’ère Nouvelle. Included in this group was the Marxist psychologist Henri Wallon, founder in 1921 of Le Groupe Français d’Education Nouvelle, who held the chair of Education and Psychology of Children at Collège de France and the Communist educator Célestin Freinet, who had been much impressed by meeting Ferrière at Montreux115.
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Part 2 of 2

The new turn in the NEF: 1932–1936

Wallon spoke at the next international conference held at Nice in 1932. The chair of the conference was the physicist Paul Langevin, who was an honorary president of Groupe Français d’Education Nouvelle. The attendance was lower than at the previous conference but there were significant numbers from England, the USA, Germany and France. Delegates attended the conference from fifty-three different countries. Around 27% of those who spoke could be said to be from the academy.116 The conference theme was “Education in a changing society”. Harold Rugg wrote, after the conference, that it marked a turning point in the history of the NEF. A reconstructionist, Rugg was opposed to the position held by the NEF throughout the 1920s. His claim that the very theme of the conference “was indicative of a change in the vision and drive of the fellowship” was more in the nature of a wish than a reality, and he added that his was a “personal interpretation” as the conference would not adopt a “clear pronouncement”.117 This was a reference to the new principles that had already appeared in The New Era and which were discussed at the conference. These shifted the emphasis from the individual’s to social needs. Hemmings interpreted this “retreat from freedom”, as he termed it, as a response to hopes dashed by the coming to power of Stalin in the USSR on the one hand and the “infiltration” and “virtual takeover” of the NEF by a number of professors on the other. He singled out Fred Clarke, Nunn’s successor as Director of the Institute of Education in London, as initiating the turn from educational radicalism.118 This judgement individualizes what was much more a collective reorientation. It also assumes, unjustifiably, that disciplinary fields have absolute autonomy. Boyd wrote of the 1930s that, “with the growth of fascism there was a shift of interest from child to society among new educators, and gradually the concern about methods dwindled”.119 While the field of education as a discipline articulated with the demands and problems thrown up by the education system, in terms of both teacher training and the necessity to legitimize class-divided schooling through mental testing, the deterioration of the economic and political context in the 1930s serves to remind us that it is just one field among many others and that changes in another field such as the political or the economic may have consequences for the operation of others.

Hemmings was justified, however, in pointing to the takeover of the NEF by the professoriate. The NEF in England, for example, was particularly well supported by staff at the Institute of Education such as the psychologist Susan Isaacs, the head from 1933 of its Department of Child Development,120 and Clarke himself some years later. During the Second World War, Clarke published a highly influential book entitled Education and Social Change. Drawing on the famous distinctions drawn by Weber regarding the bases of authority, Clarke opined that charismatic education, where it still persisted, was the province of “esoteric cults”’ or “the impassioned prophets of queer social idealisms”.121 These descriptions could easily have been applied to the radical phase of the NEF but by the early 1930s charismatic education was retreating.

There were also other shifts noticeable at the Nice conference or at least in Wyatt Rawson’s highly edited version of the discussions there.122 In the conference text there is barely a mention of psychology and none of psychoanalysis. This is, to an extent, explicable by the conference theme and the questions addressed, such as “can democracy be made to work?” and “can the world unite?”, but there is also observable a diminution in the number of articles on the New Psychology in The New Era throughout the 1930s as the focus of attention of its contributors shifted from the individual to the social.

The Cheltenham conference

The final international conference of the NEF before the Second World War was held in England at Cheltenham in 1936. Once more, the number attending declined although there were still more than at Locarno. About half the number were from Britain and a substantial group came from the USA. The biggest decline was in the contingents from Germany and Austria. The worsening international situation was registered in the posters outside the conference hall, which “told of attacks on the examination system and attacks on Spanish cities in the same type”.123 The theme of the conference was the educational foundations of freedom and a free community. This was a focus very much dictated by the contemporary political and military context of the time. Of fifty speakers listed in the conference volume124 24% were from the academy though not all were in the field of education. Bovet was present from Geneva and Nunn from the Institute of Education but there was no one from Teachers College, the other arm of the New Education’s institutional triangle. A graduate of Teachers College, Chang Peng-Chun, Professor of Philosophy and education at Nankai University, Tientsin, did attend, however. He was to rise to prominence after the war when he served on the committee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Again, unlike the conferences of the 1920s, there was little sign of psychoanalysis in the discussions other than contributions from Melanie Klein and Susan Isaacs and perhaps a greater emphasis on the administration and politics of education than previously. Bovet made a contribution on religious education, which was discussed for the first time at an NEF conference.

In the following year the Rockefeller Foundation withdrew its funding and plunged the NEF into a crisis. The English section, however, continued to thrive. The composition of its Council in 1937 underlines again the heterogeneous nature of this movement (see Table 2).

Of the fourteen members from universities, four were from the Institute of Education, as was Susan Isaacs who chaired the ENEF and Fred Clarke who was its President. Thus the ENEF and the prestigious institute had a very close relationship.

Conferences in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand

At all the NEF international conferences substantive issues such as examinations and the curriculum were discussed but little discussion took place on research in education and the place of education in the university. The interests of the academy were mainly pursued through an insistence that the work of teacher training should take place in universities and that the course should be lengthened. The NEF conferences in the Commonwealth countries of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand were different in that research and the development of the disciplinary field were on the agenda. The first of these conferences was held in 1934 in South Africa, where Beatrice Ensor was now resident. The organizer was E. G. Malherbe, Director of the South African Bureau of Educational and Social Research, who later became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Natal. One of the Bureau’s activities was to produce standardized intelligence tests in order to compare, “the intelligence of the African native and the white people”.125 It had been founded in 1929 and it received funding from the South African government and the Carnegie Corporation, 126 which also financed the visit of the scientific racist, S. D. Porteus, formerly Director of Research at the Psychological Laboratory, Vineland, New Jersey, who conducted tests of intelligence on the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.127 His Maze Test was discussed in the sessions on “the educability of the Bantu”, in which the principal question addressed was “what is the innate educable capacity of the Bantu child?”.128

Around four thousand attended the conference; among them were two apologists for fascism, Ernesto Codignola, Professor of Education at the University of Florence, formerly a student of the Hegelian Giovanni Gentile, and Karl von Dürckheim-Montmartin,129 a psychotherapist and Professor of Education at the University of Kiel. Their attendance caused the NEF leaders considerable anguish but, true to the NEF’s liberal principles, Beatrice Ensor defended their presence arguing that “from each we can learn something”.130 Dewey, Bovet, Rugg and Boyd were among the speakers from the academy and Helen Parkhust A. J. Lynch, formerly the head of a school in London that had introduced the Dalton Plan, and J. J. Van der Leeuw represented the promoters of new methods of education. The latter was a Dutch theosophist who advocated the replacement of classrooms by workshops and laboratories.

Table 2. Composition of the Council of the English Branch of the NEF in 1937

Category / Number

Private school / 16
State school / 9
Universities / 14
Training colleges / 8
Inspectors / 2
Administrators / 4
Teacher unions and other organizations / 12
Directors of education / 7

Fred Clarke, one of the stars of the conference according to Percy Nunn,131 spoke, in one of his contributions, about comparative education and the role of the “new” countries like South Africa in the construction of a common educational faith. References to the political conjuncture provided a context for his topic but at the time he was in negotiations with Nunn over the post of Adviser to Overseas Students at the London Institute. This post was paid for by the Carnegie Corporation, as was an Overseas Division within the Institute.132 Clarke in his presentation also paid tribute to the “new” countries, particularly the USA, for recognizing “education as a subject of serious and systematic study”.133

The Carnegie Corporation provided support for travel to the next NEF Conference, which was held in New Zealand and Australia in 1937. The conference began in New Zealand in July and nearly 6000 attended.134 Financial backing was provided by, among other bodies, the government of New Zealand and the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, which was funded by the Carnegie Corporation. Its director was Clarence Beeby, a former student of Spearman at Manchester University, who was a psychologist interested in mental testing. None of the speakers specifically addressed the disciplinary field of education but William Boyd from Glasgow University again spoke on the need to train teachers in universities and to provide them with a course that included philosophy, ethics, sociology and psychology, “the philosophical disciplines that underlie education”.135 He linked the provision of training in a university with the raising of teachers’ professional status. Although the contribution of this conference to the disciplinary field may have been limited, the Minister of Education claimed it had contributed to an educational revival.

The conference in Australia was held in August and September and was organized for the NEF by the Australian Council for Educational Research. This body was also financed by the Carnegie Corporation,136 and under its president Frank Tate137 it had produced more than fifty reports on education by the time the conference was held. Speakers at the conference included Rugg, Bovet and Isaac Kandel, the comparativist professor from Teachers’ College, Columbia.138 Malherbe discussed research in education, the first occasion when it had been addressed specifically at an NEF conference and he made the point that universities should establish strong faculties of education where teachers could be trained. Like Boyd, he argued that this would increase their status by having been associated with research in education and enable them to compete with other professions for what have been termed here the various forms of capital.


In summary, the NEF began as a movement organized by Theosophists. Their presence, always furtive, soon diminished as the movement gained adherents in the aftermath of the catastrophe that was the First World War. The NEF was a charismatic social movement that attracted the support of social and political radicals as well as mainstream liberals. It was international in outlook and deeply committed to world peace and the League of Nations as a way to attaining it. The worsening political conjuncture of the 1930s brought about by the coming to power of Stalinism, Nazism and Fascism together with, in England, an increased participation in the NEF by members of the academy brought about a change in the “basic faith” of the NEF and a retreat from its previous radicalism.

The NEF entered a new phase after the Second World War as did English higher education in the 1960s and the training college system. Research in education in England was for the first time utilized on a large scale but mainly in relation to the issue of selection for secondary education.139 It could be argued that in their insistence on a science of education to provide answers to problems of practice, the leaders of the NEF had paved the way for the rise of the academy and the disciplinary field but while such a case is plausible there is little direct evidence that this was the case. The members of the academy who came to the conferences were always in a minority among the speakers and appear to have enjoyed no more prestige than a doctor-educator like Montessori. Rather than the NEF needing them, they seem to have needed the NEF more. This point is similar to that made by Hofstetter and Schneuwly, who argue that “science actually played servant to the social agenda [of the New Education] whose thesis it was called upon to confirm, rather than question or criticize”.140 After Nice the academy’s influence began to increase but the NEF was still a social movement in which social and religious preoccupations were predominant.

Throughout this period, the NEF provided members of the academy with an audience and an extensive international network. In turn, this enabled those of them with the requisite habitus to transcend their national boundaries and participate in the newly emerging international field of education and thereby gain social and cultural capital. These networks, as has been shown in the case of Elisabeth Rotten, were a key component in the social movement that was the NEF. When to these networks was added money from Carnegie and Rockefeller, the NEF was able to provide the means for the international spread of the New Education and the further enhancement of its key figures and their institutions.

Concretely, the international conferences also raised issues in the public sphere such as methods and examinations not normally associated with political debate on education. The power of its leaders depended on their ability to mobilize agents and institutions outside the field but at the same time the NEF created a context in which the importance of the field was increasingly recognized by states and politicians. In addition, it promoted a discourse favourable to research and experiment in education, the immediate beneficiaries of which were psychologists and the mental testers but, in the longer term, all educational researchers probably benefited.

The most direct contribution to the disciplinary field came from the conferences of the NEF in the British Commonwealth, which although they had international speakers were very much bound up with the relations of those peripheral countries and their disciplinary fields, and with Britain. The reasons for the foundation’s support of educational research and reform in the peripheral countries of the British Commonwealth are complex141 and are beyond the scope of this article but it is clear that a combination of British ideas and the money of American foundations combined to encourage and support educational reform within them. In this, as in other instances, the development of the disciplinary field of education may be understood as being intimately tied to competition for power and for various forms of capital and prestige.



1 Eckhardt Fuchs, “Educational Sciences, Morality, and Politics: International Educational  Congresses in the Early Twentieth Century”, Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
 2 The following are a small selection from an extensive literature: Frederick William Roman,  The New Education in Europe. An Account of Recent Fundamental Changes in the Educational Philosophy  of Great Britain, France, and Germany (London, 1923); R. J. W. Selleck, The New Education  (London, 1968); W. A. C. Stewart & W. P. McCann, The Educational Innovators: Progressive Schools  1881–1967, vol. II (London–Melbourne–New York, 1968).
3 For the components of a disciplinary field see: Rita Hofstetter, “The Construction of a New  Science by Means of an Institute and its Communication Media. The Institute of Educational  Sciences in Geneva (1912–1948)”, Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
 4 Brian Simon, “The Study of Education as a University Subject in Britain”, in Brian Simon  (Ed.), The State and Educational Change: Essays in the History of Education and Pedagogy (London,  1994), pp. 127–146; J. B. Thomas, British Universities and Teacher Education a Century of Change  (London–New York, 1990).
 5 Pierre Bourdieu & Loic J. D. Wacquant, An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Cambridge,  1992).
 6 See the discussion of Bourdieu’s view of the disciplines and their position with a hierarchy  in Marco Cicchini, “Un bouillon de culture pour les sciences de l’éducation? Le Congrès  international d’éducation morale (1908–1934)”, Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
 7 Pierre Bourdieu, Homo academicus (Cambridge, 1988).
 8 Michael Ensor, “Dr Beatrice Ensor”, The New Era, 56 (1975), pp. 187–188.
 9 Theosophist in this article refers to members and associates of the Theosophical Society.  The much older tradition is referred to as theosophy.
10 Joy Dixon, Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England (Baltimore, MD, 2001)  [= The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, 119th ser., 1];  Josephine Ransom, A Short History of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, 1938); W. S. Smith, The  London Heretics 1870–1914 (London, 1967).
 11 E. G. A. Holmes, “Drudgery and Education. A Defence of Montessori Ideals”, Hibbert  Journal, 5 (1917), pp. 419–433; Edmond Holmes and Great Britain Board of Education, The  Montessori System of Education (London, 1912) [= Educational pamphlets, No. 24].
 12 Beatrice Ensor, “Obituary Dr William Boyd”, The New Era, 43/8 (1963), pp. 159–160;  Martin Lawn, “The Institute as Network: The Scottish Council for Educational Research as a  Local and International Phenomenon in the 1930s”, Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
 13 Stewart & McCann, The Educational Innovators: Progressive Schools 1881–1967.
 14 Reginald Snell, St Christopher School 1915–1975 (Letchworth, 1975). p. 53.
 15 Journal of Education, XXXIX (March 1917), p. 179.
 16 This is discussed extensively in: Dixon, Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England.
 17 Emily Lutyens, “The New Gospel of Joy”, The Herald of the Star, 16 (1927), p. 86.
18 W. E. F. Ensor to W. Lawson 26 January 1971.
 19 “The Outlook Tower”, Education for the New Era, I/1 (1920), pp. 3–4.
 20 See the interview with Beatrice Ensor in Appendix 1 of R. N. Sinha, “A critical history  and evaluation of the New Education Fellowship from its foundation in 1920” (MA, Sheffield  University, 1971).
 21 William Boyd, “The Basic Faith of the New Education Fellowship”, in: George Z. F. Bereday  & Joseph A. Lauwerys (Eds.), Education and Philosophy: The Yearbook of Education (London,  1957), p. 197.
 22 Louis Raillion, “Roger Cousinet (1881–1973)”, Prospects, 23 (1993), pp. 221–233.
 23 William Boyd & Wyatt Rawson, The Story of the New Education (London, 1965).
 24 Stewart & McCann, The Educational Innovators: Progressive Schools 1881–1967, p. 219.
 25 Beatrice Ensor, “The Schools of Tomorrow”, in: New Education Fellowship (Ed.), The  Creative Self-expression of the Child (London, n.d.), pp. 184–190.
 26 H. Baillie-Weaver, Ibid., La co-éducation, pp. 39–44; L. Haden Guest, “The Liberation of  Creative Faculty by Education”, in The Creative Self-expression of the Child, pp. 1–6.
 27 C. A. Claremont, “The Montessori Method”, in ibid., pp. 15–21.
28 Hofstetter, “The Construction of a New Science”.
 29 Elsa Walters, “Some Recent Developments in Intelligence Tests”, in The Creative Self–  expression of the Child, pp. 176–183.
 30 Alexander S. Neill, “The Abolition of Authority”, in The Creative Self-expression of the Child,  pp. 63–67.
 31 James Young, “The Cultural Value of Analytical Psychology”, in ibid., pp. 140–150.
 32 Stewart & McCann, The Educational Innovators: Progressive Schools 1881–1967.
 33 Cloudsley Brereton, “The French Child at Home and at School”, in The Creative Selfexpression  of the Child, pp. 7–14.
 34 Henry Brereton Cloudesley, Louis Shovell, Henri Bergson & Frederick Rothwell, Laughter.  An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic … Authorised translation by Cloudesley Brereton … and Fred  Rothwell (London, 1911).
 35 Marc Depaepe, Frank Simon & Angelo Van Gorp, “The Canonization of Ovide Decroly  as a ‘Saint’ of the New Education”, History of Education Quarterly, 43 (2003), pp. 224–249;  Francine Dubreucq, “Jean-Ovide Decroly (1871–1932)”, Prospects, 23 (1993), pp. 249–275.
 36 Daniel Hameline, “Adolphe Ferrière (1879–1960)”, Prospects, XXIII (1993), pp. 373–401.
 37 Boyd, “The Basic Faith of the New Education Fellowship”.
 38 Rita Hofstetter & Bernard Schneuwly, “Institutionalisation of Educational Sciences  and the Dynamics of Their Development”, European Educational Research Journal, 1 (2002),  pp. 3–25.
 39 See the Preface by Claparède to Amélie Hamaïde, The Decroly Class: A Contribution to  Elementary Education, J. L. Hunt, trans. (London, 1925).
 40 Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago–London, 1996).
 41 Dubreucq, “Jean-Ovide Decroly (1871–1932)”.
42 Hamaïde, The Decroly Class: A Contribution to Elementary Education.
 43 G. Bachelard, The New Scientific Spirit (Boston, 1984).
 44 Adolphe Ferrière, “The New Schools”, New Era, 2 (1921), pp. 222–228.
 45 A. R. Lacey, Bergson (London, 1993).
 46 Buyse was the founder of the Laboratory of Experimental Pedagogy in Louvain. The  quotation is from L’Expérimentation en pédagogie (1935, p. 49) cited in Hameline, “Adolphe  Ferrière (1879–1960)”.
 47 Stewart & McCann, The Educational Innovators: Progressive Schools 1881–1967.
 48 Anon, “New Education Fellowship diary, 1920–1952”, The New Era, 33 (1952), pp. 173–187.
 49 WEF Archive, Ensor to Soper 15 March 1948.
50 An account is to be found in Sinha, “A Critical History and Evaluation of the New Education  Fellowship from Its Foundation in 1920”.
 51 Boyd & Rawson, The Story of the New Education.
 52 Rotten has travelled in Europe having been for a year a lecturer at Cambridge University  in 1913 and she had studied at Montpellier. Dietmar Haubfleisch, Elisabeth Rotten  (1882–1964) – eine (fast) vergessene Reformpädagogin (1997, cited 5 February 2002) [available  at: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/sonst/1996/0010.html].
 53 Correspondence with Dr Elizabeth Rotten Berlin 1914–1920 in Emergency and War  Victims Relief Committee 1914–24. Archives of the Religious Society of Friends London.
 54 For an account by its first President, the American social reformer Jane Addams, of this  organization’s work and reference to Elisabeth Rotten, see Jane Addams, Peace and Bread in  Time of War (New York, 1922).
 55 Women’s International Congress of [Zurich, 1919]. Report of the International Congress of  Women, Zurich … 1919. [With plates] (Geneva, 1919).
 56 Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Cambridge, 1990).
 57 H. Schmitt, “Gustav Wyneken as Reform Pedagogue”, Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte,  53 (2001), pp. 240–255.
 58 Peter D. Stachura, The German Youth Movement, 1900–1945: An Interpretative and Documentary  History (London, 1981).
 59 Robert Skidelsky, English Progressive Schools (Harmondsworth, 1969). A.S. Neill was more  critical. See: A. S. Neill, “Education in Germany”, The New Era, 3 (1922), pp. 57–58.
60Hofstetter, “The Construction of a New Science”.
 61 Haubfleisch, Elisabeth Rotten.
 62 John Hooper, “Treasure Island”, Guardian, Tuesday 19 March 2002.
 63 Dennis Shirley, The Politics of Progressive Education: The Odenwaldschule in Nazi Germany  (Cambridge, MA–London, 1992).
 64 Elisabeth Rotten, “Fellowship (Community) Schools at Hamburg”, The New Era, 3 (1922),  pp. 103–107. See also Wolsey Washburne Carleton & M. Stearns Myron, New Schools in the Old  World (New York, 1926).
 65 Beatrice Ensor, “Outlook Tower”, The New Era, 4 (1923), p. 126.
 66 Dietmar Haubfleisch & Jörg-W. Link, Einleitung zum Register der reformpädagogischen  Zeitschrift ‘Das Werdende Zeitalter’ (‘Internationale Erziehungs-Rundschau’) (1996, cited 5 August  2002) [available at: http://archiv.ub.uni–marburg.de/sonst/1996/0012.html].
 67 Jonathan Croall, Neill of Summerhill: The Permanent Rebel (London, 1984).
 68 Ray Hemmings, Children’s Freedom (New York, 1973).
69 Hameline, “Adolphe Ferrière (1879–1960)”.
 70 Edmond Demolins & Louis Bertram Lavigne, Anglo-Saxon Superiority: To what it is Due  (London, 1898).
 71 W. A. C. Stewart & W. P. McCann, The Educational Innovators 1750–1880, vol. I (London,  1967).
 72 For a discussion of the relation between the emergence of science and the occult see  B. J. Gibbons, Spirituality and the Occult: from the Renaissance to the Modern Age (London,  2001), chapter 3.
 73 See for example the discussion of ‘the canons of scientific method’ in J. J. Findlay,  Principles of Class Teaching (London, 1902), pp. x–xi. From 1903 until 1925 Findlay was Sarah  Fielden Professor of Education at Manchester University.
 74 John Nisbet, “Early Textbooks in Educational Research: the Birth of a Discipline”, European  Educational Research Journal, 1 (2002), pp. 37–44.
 75 See Alasdair Macintyre, After Virtue (London, 19852).
 76 Nick Crossley, Making Sense of Social Movements (Buckingham, 2002); Donatella Della  Porta & Mario Diani, Social Movements: an Introduction (Malden, MA, 1999).
 77 T. Percy Nunn quoted in William Boyd & Muriel M. Mackenzie (Eds.), Towards a New  Education (London, 1930), p. 455.
78 For more on networks see: Angelo Van Gorp, Marc Depaepe & Frank Simon, “Backing  the Actor as Agent in Discipline Formation: An Example of the ‘Secondary Disciplinarisation’  of the Educational Sciences, Based on the Networks of Ovide Decroly (1901–1931)”,  Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
 79 Della Porta & Diani, Social Movements: an Introduction.
 80 R. Williams, Culture (London, 1981); Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature, Marxist  Introductions (Oxford, 1977).
 81 NEF (Ed.), The Creative Self-expression of the Child (London, n.d.).
 82 Beatrice Ensor, “Why the New Education Fellowship was formed”, New Era, 2 (1921),  pp. 219–220.
 83 NEF (Ed.), The Creative Self-expression of the Child.
84 Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (New York, 1997).
 85 Boyd & Rawson, The Story of the New Education.
 86 Croall, Neill of Summerhill: The Permanent Rebel.
87 Cited in Crossley, Making Sense of Social Movements.
 88 Boyd and Mackenzie (Eds.), Towards a New Education.
 89 Anon., “New Education Fellowship Diary, 1920–1952”.
 90 Patricia Albjerg Graham, Progressive Education from Arcady to Academe: a History of the  Progressive Education Association, 1919–1955 (New York, 1967).
 91 Boyd, “The Basic Faith of the New Education Fellowship”.
92 Wyatt T. R. Rawson, A New World in the Making: An International Survey of the New Education  (London, 1933).
 93 Graham, Progressive Education from Arcady to Academe: a History of the Progressive Education  Association, 1919–1955.
 94 Pierre Bovet, The Child’s Religion: A Study of the Development of Religious Sentiment (London,  1928).
 95 Helio Carpintero and Fania Herrero, Early applied psychology (The early days of the IAAP)  (2002, cited 3 August 2002) [available at: http://fs–morente.filos.ucm.es/profesores/  carpintero/Iaaphist/IAAPhist.htm].
 96 Arthur Sweetser, “Impressions of the second Locarno Conference,” The New Era, 8  (1927), pp. 114–116.
97 Theodor F. Klaßen, “Jena Plan education in an international setting”, in: Hermann Röhrs  & Volker Lenhart (Eds.), Progressive Education Across the Continents: A Handbook (Frankfurt am  Main–New York, 1995), pp. 259–274.
 98 Harold O. Rugg, “Freeing the curriculum”, The New Era, 8 (1927), pp. 123–125.
 99 WEF Archive, File 25, Leaflet 3/11/32.
 100 Richard Aldrich, The Institute of Education, 1902–2002: A Centenary History (London,  2002).
 101 Idem, “The Training of Teachers and Educational Studies – the London Day Training  College, 1902–1932”, Paedagogica Historica, XL/5–6 (2004).
102 Vera Gyurova, Principles of Love, Freedom and Experience, defined by Prof. D. Katzarov, and  their Relativity to Contemporary Understanding of Child Rights (National Institute of Education,  Bulgaria, 2002, cited 3 November 2003) [available at: http://www.nie.bg/en/strategii/  1_2002.htm].
 103 Z. Atanassov, “Profiles of Educators: Peter Noikov 1868–1921”, European Education, 29  (1997), pp. 6–20.
 104 Between 1903 and 1911, Sadler was part-time Professor of Administration and History in  the Department of Education at Manchester University. L. Grier, Achievement in Education: The  Work of Michael Ernest Sadler 1885–1935 (London, 1952); J. H. Higginson (Ed.), Selections From  Michael Sadler (Liverpool, 1979); Michael Sadleir, Michael Ernest Sadler – Sir Michael Sadler,  K.C.S.I., 1861–1943 (1949).
 105 Boyd & Mackenzie (Eds.), Towards a New Education.
 106 Ibid., p. xvii.
107 Ibid., p. 86 These were held to include individual psychology, the psychology of  individuality, American psychology compounded of behaviourism and pragmatism, Gestalt  psychology, psychoanalysis and the psychology of irrationalism. Ibid., p. 348.
 108 Ibid., p. 118 .
 109 The formulation is drawn from Magali Sarfatti Larson, The Rise of Professionalism: A  Sociological Analysis (Berkeley–London, 1977).
 110 Ibid., p. 446.
 111 But not, as Fuchs outlines, in France and Germany. Fuchs, “Educational Sciences,  Morality, and Politics: International Educational Congresses in the Early Twentieth Century”.
 112 Ibid., pp. 247–280.
 113 See Anon, “New Education Fellowship Diary, 1920–1952”.
 114 Boyd & Rawson, The Story of the New Education.
 115 Nicholas Beattie, The Freinet Movements of France, Italy, and Germany, 1920–2000: Versions  of Educational Progressivism (Lewiston, NY, Lampeter, 2002) [= Mellen Studies in Education,  74].
116 Calculated from the list of speakers in Rawson, A New World in the Making: An International  Survey of the New Education.
 117 Harold O. Rugg, “The Measure of the New Education as Shown by the Sixth World-  Conference”, The New Era, 13 (1932), pp. 247–250.
 118 Hemmings, Children’s Freedom.
 119 William Boyd, “Reflections on the New Education”, The New Era, 37 (1956), pp. 61–64.
 120 Dorothy E. M. Gardner, Susan Isaacs (London, 1969).
 121 Fred Clarke & Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Education and Social Change:  An English Interpretation (London–New York, 1940) [= The Christian news-letter books, 3].
122 Rawson, A New World in the Making: An International Survey of the New Education.
 123 Beatrice Ensor, “Outlok Tower”, The New Era, 17 (1936), pp. 223–226.
 124 Wyatt Rawson, The Freedom We Seek: A Survey of the Social Implications of the New Education  (London, 1937).
125 E. G. Malherbe, “Research in Education”, in: Kenneth Stuart Cunningham (Ed.), Education  for Complete Living, the Challenge of To-day: The Proceedings of the New Education Fellowship  Conference Held in Australia August 1 to September 20, 1937 (Melbourne–London–Edinburgh,  1938), pp. 298–310.
 126 For more on Carnegie see: Lawn, “The Institute as Network: the Scottish Council for  Educational Research as a Local and International Phenomenon in the 1930s”.
 127 Saul Dubow, Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Cambridge–New York, 1995).
 128 E. G. Malherbe (Ed.), Educational Adaptations in a Changing Society: Report of the South  African Education Conference held in Capetown and Johannesburg in July, 1934, under the Auspices  of the New Education Fellowship (Capetown–Johannesburg, 1937).
 129 Pieter Loomans, Karlfried Graf Dürckheim (unknown, cited 4 March 2003) [available at:  http://www.transpersonal.at/glossar/Glossar_duerckheim.htm].
130 Beatrice Ensor, “The Outlook Tower”, The New Era, 15 (1934), p. 161.
 131 Frank Mitchell Wyndham, Sir Fred Clarke, Master-teacher, 1880–1952 (London, 1967).
 132 Ibid., p. 88.
 133 Fred Clarke, “The New Countries in Education”, in: E. G. Malherbe (Ed.), Educational  Adaptations in a Changing Society: Report of the South African Education Conference held in Capetown  and Johannesburg in July, 1934, under the Auspices of the New Education Fellowship (Capetown–  Johannesburg, 1937), pp. 42–49.
 134 A. E. Campbell, Modern Trends in Education: The Proceedings of the New Education Fellowship  Conference held in New Zealand in July 1937 (Wellington, NZ, 1938).
 135 Ibid., p. 428.
 136 W. F. Connell & Australian Council for Educational Research, The Australian Council for  Educational Research, 1930–80 (Hawthorn, 1980).
 137 R. J. W. Selleck, Frank Tate: A Biography (Carlton, Vic., 1982).
138 Erwin Pollack, “Isaac Leon Kandel”, Prospects, 23 (1993), pp. 775–787.
 139 Kevin J. Brehony, “Developments in the Sociology of Education Since 1950: From  Structural Functionalism to ‘Policy Sociology’”, in: Robert G. Burgess & Anne Murcott (Eds.),  Developments in Sociology (London, 2001), pp. 165–184.
 140 Hofstetter, “The Construction of a New Science”.

141 Richard Glotzer, “American Educational Research in the Dominions: Making the Case for Decentralization in Interwar South Africa”, Educational Change (1997), pp. 52–65; idem, “Philanthropy in Educational Foundations: Conscience of the Public Good or Instrument of Control? Illustrations from Recent World History”, Educational Change (1996), pp. 105–115.
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Re: A new education for a new era: the contribution of the c

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 12:54 am

by M.D. Lawson
July 7, 2006



Although some attention has been given to Theosophical influence in the New Education Fellowship during the first decade of its existence, [1] the relationship of members of the Theosophical Society to the foundation and early development of the New Educational Fellowship may be further amplified.

The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875, propounds an amalgam of religious beliefs which stress the fundamental unity of all religions. Education has always been a concern of the Theosophical Society. Madame Blavatsky, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society and its first leading spokesman, wrote in The Key to Theosophy (1889): [2]

If we had money, we would found schools which would turn out something else than reading and writing candidates for starvation. Children should above all be taught self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity and more than anything else, to think and reason for themselves. We would reduce the purely mechanical work of the memory to an absolute minimum, and devote the time to the development and training of the inner senses, faculties and latent capacities. We would endeavour to deal with each child as a unit, and to educate it so to produce the most harmonious and equal unfoldment of its powers, in order that its special aptitudes should find their full natural development. We should aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish. And we believe that much if not all of this education could be obtained by proper and truly theosophical education.

Despite the Theosophical Society being founded in New York the leaders moved to India in 1879 and the headquarters of the Society has been in India ever since. Theosophical schools were established in India and Ceylon and by 1913 when a Theosophical Educational Trust (India) was formed there were twenty schools under Theosophical auspices in India [3] and by 1915 nearly four hundred schools in Ceylon under the auspices of the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society. [4]

It was the example of the Indian Theosophical Educational Trust and the publication of Krishnamurti's Education as Service which spurred English Theosophists in their educational efforts. From 1913 a group of prominent Theosophists, including Beatrice Ensor, had been meeting at Letchworth [5] to discuss the contributions Theosophists could make to education. From these meetings a decision was made to get interested Theosophist teachers to join the annual educational conferences centred around Edmond Holmes (author of What Is and What Might Be (1911) and a number of mystical works congenial to Theosophists) and the Montessori association in England.

These conferences, of which Holmes was initially the mainstay, were called the New Ideals in Education. The Theosophical Fraternity in Education, founded in 1915, although continuing to be linked with the New Ideals in Education group, eventually surpassed this group claiming 560 members in 1919. [6] Indeed according to Mrs. Ensor the movement grew so rapidly that it was decided to form a wider association, eventually to be called the New Education Fellowship because 'many of the leaders of the education movement in England grew rather afraid of our Theosophy'. [7] The Theosophical Fraternity in Education did not disband for some years; moreover many of its members had a dual membership in the New Education Fellowship. [8]

At the 1920 conference of the Theosophical Fraternity in Education its aims were revised. It was decided to widen the group into an international organization for the promotion of world peace. This became a reality when a gathering organized by Theosophists at Calais was constituted as the New Educational Fellowship: [9]

The Organizing Secretary of the Conference, I.A. Hawliczek acting for the Theosophical Educational Trust but needing to issue his communications in a form which avoided the suggestion that this was a Theosophical Conference, employed the designation, the New Education Fellowship, and in spite of some misgivings about the phrase, this title had come to be taken for granted by the time the Conference was under way.
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