This issue features a focus on women educators and leaders whose experiences offer insights into their nuanced intellectual, familial, or political commitments as well as broader social and educational phenomenon shaping their respective contexts: changes in women's lives and work that shape teaching in late 19th to mid-20th century Australia (Whitehead); the power of leadership principles shaping a teacher's college for African-American students in St. Louis, Missouri from 1940-1954 (Garry); and the political and educational context of Xinjiang Province during the Cultural Revolution in China influential for an academic career decades later in the southeastern United States (Crumb and Bohan). Scholarship on women in education has grown considerably since the 1970s, a period of feminist activism which fueled diverse studies on women and underscored the gendered assumptions and silences long-constituting educational thought and practice. Biographical portraits of women as historical actors and agents of knowledge continue to emerge as scholars identify new subjects, data sources, and analytical tools to bring individual lives into focus.
The first essay in this issue, "Teaching 'is a Pleasure to me Almost Always': Continuities and Changes in Three Generations of a Teaching Family," presents Kay Whitehead's analysis of the Hubbe-Caw letters representing three women from different generations of the same family of teachers in Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries. Given the scarcity of available inter-generational archival materials, the survival of Edith, Marjorie, and Virginia's letters enables a rare empirically-grounded examination of women's engagement with education among members of families who choose to teach. Complementing Janak's (2012) recent oral histories of multiple generations of a Nebraska teaching family, Whitehead examines letters exchanged among the women and others in their networks other documentary sources to explore the broader changes in work and family life women negotiated within their historical contexts.
In the second essay, "Ruth Harris' Principles helped African American Students Beat the Odds," Vanessa Garry introduces us to the leadership principles of Ruth Harris, a Teacher's College graduate and the first African-American president of Stowe's Teachers College in St. Louis Missouri, who served from 1940 until 1954 when the Brown decision went into effect. Garry teases out elements of Harris' lasting influence on school alumni from qualitative interviews with graduates who found the nourishing college climate instrumental for their advancement. Garry describes the important role of the college in providing education for African-American students through Harris' leadership and labor and shares how alumni 'beat the odds' in the pre-Brown years to become successful educators and administrators.
Shifting to a contemporary biographical account, co-authors John Crumb II and Chara H. Bohan draw from diverse documents and interviews to trace the journey of Dr. Yali Zhao from her birth in China one year before the Cultural Revolution began to her current position as faculty at Georgia State University. The account, "Bringing Worlds Together: China and American Through the Eyes of Dr. Yali Zhao," foregrounds unique dimensions of Zhao's intellectual life, commitment to education, and experiences with diversity that inform her teaching and scholarship. The researchers ground their work in Zhao's cultural contexts and note the productive complexities of conducting biographical research on/with a colleague.
In this issue we also learn new information about familiar educational figures, such as the founder of the Montessori schools, Maria Montessori, through Martha Tevis' review of Gerald L. and Patricia A. Gutek's new book, Bringing Montessori to America: S.S. McClure, Maria Montessori, and the Campaign to Publicize Montessori Education (University of Alabama Press, 2016). Also, Linda C. Morice reviews Kelly Sartorius' text, Deans of Women and the Feminist Movement: Emily Taylor's Activism (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014), and the backdrop of the feminist movement that informs Taylor's leadership at the University of Kansas between 1956 and 1975.
As we move farther into the third decade of VS, we will continue the journal's historic mission to publish articles, special issues, and book reviews on aspects of 'educator's lives, and lives that are educative' in their varied contexts. In an era of corporatization that can too easily erase the complexity of educators' experiences and contributions, the journal remains an important space for preserving such analysis. We welcome traditional biographical accounts as well as a range of new methodologies for examining and narrating lives. In future issues, we plan to provide new spaces for contributors to describe creative pedagogical applications of biographical work. The field of biographical study continues to expand with new theories and technologies that shape conceptions of the biographical subject and opportunities for research in and through on-line resources. We look forward to seeing how scholars put these generation developments to work in their research and teaching.
(1) Edward Janak, "Revelle"-ing in History: Lessons Learned From a Family of Teachers," Vitae Scholasticae: The Journal of Educational Biography 29, no. 1 (2012): 23-37
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|Author:||Bailey, Lucy E.|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2016|
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