Term of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

William M. Reynolds

Committee Member 1

Jane A. Page

Committee Member 2

Dorothy A. Battle

Committee Member 3

Kemp Mabry


Selection of a study to preserve the history of the laboratory school, Georgia Southern University over eight decades of the 20th Century became an intriguing journey. The vehicle was ethnographic research into the lives and philosophies ofmen and women educators. I was personally embedded within Marvin Pittman Laboratory School history for three decades. I had the advantage of an insider's view of the principles that guided the successful operation of this laboratory school, 1928—1998.

Emerging themes were identified from my data and verification was made with historical documents. Each interview produced themes representing that person's life and involvement. These recurring themes were focused by the perceptions of the participants then aligned with dominant themes from the Progressive Education Movement of the early 20th Century. I attempted to depict the dedication and emotional attachment to the laboratory school and to the "Spirit of Pittman."

This research study was original and unique. First, no comprehensive study had been done to include the eight decades ofthe laboratory school operation on this site in southeast Georgia. Second, I literally "lived the history" of the last three decades of operation, 1970—1998. Third, was the documentation ofa "working model" that successfully implemented the major Progressive pedagogy of the early 20th Century. Fourth, was the linkage to notable early educators of our century, John Dewey, William H. Kilpatrick, Marvin S. Pittman and others. Identification was through graduate work at Teachers College Columbia University from 1920s—1940s by laboratory school teachers, college faculty, and administrators.

Personal words of Dr. Marvin Pittman, written in 1952, illustrate my sentiments. "Sometime in the future, at the close of the 20th Century. . . some other. . . will catalog succeeding steps of progress. Each . . . has made its own contribution in accordance with the times, circumstances and means available. . . . Every institution is but the extended and increased rays of the light shed by the personalities of the time. ... It is the. . . hope. . . that this record will serve as inspiration for those who follow. . . but who will themselves be the predecessors of others who shall walk in their footsteps. Thus time and man march on!"


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