A historical study in educational journalism: The "Educational Review", 1891-1919

Paul Michael McInerny, Marquette University


Nicholas Murray Butler founded and edited the Educational Review during a critical period of school reform. Dramatic changes were occurring at all levels of education. The academic journal emerged as one of the most important vehicles of communication to convey the reforms and the arguments for and against them. The Review became a leading journal by providing a forum for the discussion of philosophies of education and for representing higher education in the reform efforts. This historical study of the Review is confined to the years Butler, an influential figure in education, edited the journal. The study is limited to the perspective of the journal, augmented by the Butler Papers at Columbia University. While the administration of the journal, which became a leading standard for its contemporaries, is presented, the essence of this study concerns its editorial contents. Butler founded the journal primarily to advance the scientific study of education and the professionalization of the teaching field. The need for a philosophical and community foundation for educational reform, as it is presented in the journal, comprises a major section of this study. The role of the Review in reform efforts, which is examined, centered on advancing the scientific study of education. Professionalization of teaching complemented this effort and is the third major segment of this study. In fulfilling its reasons for existence, the editorial life of the Review was found to be one of tension. Tension existed between the "traditional" approach to education and the new "progressive" schooling movement. Within the progressive effort, further tension existed between the two directions reform were taking; these consisted of philosophy controlling scientific investigation, represented by John Dewey, and the scientific spirit dominating philosophy, represented by Edward Thorndike. Although Butler sided with the traditionalist stance for the most part, this study concludes that the Review eventually sided with the "yardstick" approach to education advanced by Thorndike. The demise of the journal was hastened by Butler's ignoring the Cardinal Principles Report and by his lack of leadership in continuing the traditionalists' viewpoints.

Recommended Citation

McInerny, Paul Michael, "A historical study in educational journalism: The "Educational Review", 1891-1919" (1989). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9014057.