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Book Published by Assistant Professor in Curriculum & Instruction

Jan. 1, 2004

J. Wesley Null's book portrays the life and career of William Chandler Bagley (1874-1946), an educational philosopher and educator of teachers who taught at Montana State Normal College, Oswego State Normal College, the University of Illinois, and finally Teachers College, Columbia University. The book, entitled A Disciplined Progressive Educator: The Life and Career of William Chandler Bagley, describes Bagley's views on teacher education curriculum, educational philosophy, and educational psychology.

Throughout his almost fifty-year career in education, Bagley served as an untiring advocate for liberal and professional education as well as the education of teachers. He was both a supporter and a critic of John Dewey and the complex movement known as progressive (i.e. democratic) education. During the 1920s, he insightfully critiqued the intelligence testing movement and its detrimental effects on minority children. At the end of his long career, he became known as the founder of "essentialism," a movement in educational thought that he and others sought to create in the late 1930s.

In his conclusion to the book, Null relates Bagley's ideas on teacher education curriculum and educational philosophy to contemporary debates surrounding these issues. The book was released in October of 2003 and is available at the Baylor bookstore as well as at any on-line book supplier.

Book Reviews

"William Chandler Bagley was the most prominent critic of progressivism in the first half of the twentieth century, but his works have until recently been forgotten. J. Wesley Null has done the rest of us a great favor by writing a history of this important educational thinker."

Diane Ravitch
Research Professor
New York University

"J. Wesley Null's account of the life and work of William Chandler Bagley describes an educator who refused to be captured by the ideological debates of his times, was able to rise above those debates, and developed educational views that defied conventional categories. Bagley provides contemporary educationists and educators a model to emulate in their own work."

Wayne J. Urban
Regents' Professor of Educational Policy Studies
Professor of History at Georgia State University

"This historical study serves as an important, thoroughly researched reinterpretation of Bagley's life. Professor Null sheds much light on his subject's very complex times and also offers much for prospective reformers today to consider about ours."

Michael Whelan
Associate Professor of History
Montclair State University

About the Author

J. WESLEY NULL has served as a public school history and science teacher in New Mexico and Texas. He completed his Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied the history of education and curriculum. As Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, he teaches interdisciplinary courses in the university's core curriculum, as well as educational studies and curriculum in the School of Education.

Click here to access sample pages from A Disciplined Progressive Educator: The Life and Career of William Chandler Bagley.

For more on the book, see:

Null can be reached at