Road to Academic Hall of Fame
|Notification by the International Biographical Centre, in Cambridge, England, that I had been selected as one of 500 members of the International Order of Merit was a surprise. Then when I was picked out of that group to be included in an Online Hall of Fame I began to realize how highly my career record was regarded. When the American Biographical Institute, Inc. named me as one of its 500 Leaders of World Influence and then decided to dedicate the publication to me I was made aware that I was being honored at home as well as abroad. Subsequently, the IBC has included me in three of its 2001 publications: "2000 Outstanding Scholars of the 21st Century", "2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century", and "Who's Who in 2001", with plans to dedicate all three volumes to me. In addition, it has named me as Deputy Director General, a highly coveted appointment, I am told.
My friend, Bea Whittington, asked the obvious question: What did you do to deserve all those honors. After I recalled several major activities and achievements that had been recognized throughout the United States and abroad, she suggested that I write them down for members of my family.
Already, my career highlights have been reduced to a sixpage report for my nomination as the Twentieth Century's Leading Teacher Educator. I realize, however, that simply listing achievements, such as, Father of Funded Education Research, falls short of much of the drama involved in achieving such distinction.
In this case, my interest in finding funding for research on educational problems was sharpened when my oldest daughter, Judy, contracted rheumatic fever. Her first grade teacher in Urbana, IL, had no understanding about how to deal with a child whose physical condition required special treatment. Romaine Macky, a one-person staff member in charge of special education in the U. S. Department of Education put me in touch with Congressman Fogarty, of Rhode Island, who was Chairperson of the House of Representatives Appropriation committee, and who had a handicapped child, himself. He agreed that the Federal Government should supply funds to research how to deal with such children and included $500,000 for research earmarked for this goal. By this time, I was Dean of the School of Educatin at the University of Wisconsin. Three staff members wrote proposals and I wrote three more, myself, which claimed most of the appropriation.
The next year, I took eight Deans of Education with me to the House Budget Hearings to request that the appropriations for educational research be doubled to $1,000,000. Congressman Fogarty told us we made the best case he had heard for an appropriation. Then he ask: Where have you been all these years? The funds for education research, now a million dollars, were assigned to the personnel budget of the Department. When I learned that their staff was making plans to do all the research in Washington, rather than sending funds for projects in universities, I wrote a letter of protest to Commissioner Larry Derthick and sent copies to fellow deans of education suggesting that they do like wise.
Commissioner Derthick called us all to Washington, denied any intent of coopting our research funds and ask how much money we should ask for. When I replied that we could use 25 million the next year, my fellow deans almost fainted. One spoke up and said all we would need would be 5 million a year--ever. As I walked from the meeting I asked Dr. Wayne Reed, Deputy Commissioner where I could find people who could talk about 100 million for educational reseach as though it were chicken feed.
A week later, As a result of Reed's efforts, I was invited to become a member of the US Air Force Aerospace Eduction Foundation. At my first meeting, I was given five minutes to present my problem. I said simply: each of you is a stockholder in a large corporation that doesn't spend a dime for research. After several denied vehiminently that they would own such stock, one ask: "What is the name of the corporation?" When I replied, "The American Public School System," all fell silent. When Jimmy Doolittle ask, "Dean, how can we help," I replied, "Go with me to Washington and lobby for funds to research educational Problems."
Melvin Laird, republican member of the Appropriations Committee, and my Wisconsin Representative, called me on a Sunday afternoon. Over the phone, we wrote the plan for the Cooperative Educational Research Division of the US Office of Education. With the help of leaders from the Airforce, Airospace industries, business, the scientific community, plus 850 "Volunteers for Educational Research" representing all states in the nation, we soon had the budget for educational research over 100 million dollars, moved the Department into the President's Cabinet, and created the Education Research Institute to administer the funds. As Frank Koeple, then Secretary of Education was quoted as saying: "Lin Stiles started from scratch and almost single handedly created a Research Component for Education." Others came to call me "The Father of Educational Research".
In partnership with Dr. Frank A. J. Ianni, of the Department of Education, we developed the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. The volunteers worked to get it passed. By this time, my reputation as the outstanding Dean of Education in the US. was fully established. Under my deanship, Wisconsin School of Education became the first research school in the world and for many years was rated number one in the United States.
Wisconsin's battle with the National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) pitted the institution, and me as its leader, against the whole NEA educational establishment, because the Accrediting Agency is operated by that organization. Before it was over, every major newspaper in the country had written editorials supporting Wisconsin's position that academic professors should share responsibility for teacher education. Only those who have fought an establishment will know its power to rally its membership to hate the opponent. Partly because Wisconsin dared to challenge the sacred cows of teacher education and, particularly, because the establishment lost the battle, many educationist turned against me. But their support and friendship was replaced by the solid endorsement of the academic communities in universities as well as many laymen who thought our cause was right. The whole episode, enhansed the image of Wisconsin's School of Education and gave me, personally, higher visability as the nation's outstanding teacher educator.
At Northwestern University, in my unique appointment as the first professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, my interaction with academic scholars was intensified. There, with more freedom for consulting assignments, I directed the Massassachusets Study which set the pattern for teacher education and the certification of teachers for years to come. Many have said that the study did more to elevate teaching from a trade to professional status than anything that had ever happened.
The creation of the Center for the Teaching Professions at Northwestern University was the first effort made to persuade college professors to think about their teaching as well as their research. It started a movement that is sweeping through colleges and universities around the world.
Another question is: what have I done internationally to win the very elite VIP status the IBC accords to me? At midcentury, I had the opportunity to meet with educational leaders in many of the major nations of the world to compare our thinking about the future of education. Most of my contacts became friends. My book, "Democratic Teaching" was warmly received in English speaking nations and, because it was published also in Spanish, the countries where Spanish is spoken. For our State Department and the Ford Foundation I worked on educational problems in Costa Rico, Columbia, India, Egypt and Nigeria.
While working to get education research funded by our Federal Government, I became aware that no Marshall Plan funds had been allocated to improve education in the debtor nations. I persuaded our Congress to correct this omission. They did so with the stipulation that I was to manage the investments. With Marshall Plan funds, I started the first funded education research in India, Israel, and Egypt. In India, I was credited with having persuaded political leaders to keep the study of English as a part of their school curriculums.
The massive six-yar Northern Nigeria progect to improve their education of elementary school teachers, which I organized, attracted world-wide attention. For it, I was able to generate the cooperative participation of the Ford Foundation, the US AId and the Peace Corp. a feat no one else has been able to accomplish.
For The Education and World Affairs, I co-authored a book called, The School of Education and World Affairs. But perhaps the most important world-wide influence I have had was through the monthly columns I wrote over a ten year period for the Journal of Educational Research. The issues went to libraries and individuals in all countries of the world. Scholars from other countries who visited Northwestern University came to meet the author of these writings.
For all these efforts, I was listed in twenty-six Who's Who type reference books, not counting those which will be published in the year 2001. Included were titles such as: "Creative and Successful Personalities of the World", ''The Directory of British and American Writers", The World's Who's Who of Authors", Dictionary of International Biography", ''International Scholars Directory", "The Blue Book: Leaders of the English Speaking World", and, of course, "Who's Who in Poetry", among others.
What have I done lately? one might ask. I conceptualized and launched "The Best Should Teach Initiative" at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. When Dr. Ira Baldwin first heard me promoting this message, he observed: "That is a Slogan that should be disseminated to every nation in the world. That is now going to happen. In the dedicatory essays that will accompany my picture on pages in the front of each of the four publications, and on the Web Page the IBC will maintain for me, the focus will be my legacy, The Best Should Teach.
I hope I have never done anything in my professional career simply to aggrandize myself. Rather, I have tried to direct my efforts toward goals that further learning and teaching and the improvement of human beings. My excitement about the high honors that have come to me recently generates from the anticipated good that I will be able to accomplish by spreading my message: Teaching is the Preeminent Profession because it nourishes all others and the total of human endavors: therefore, THE BEST SHOULD TEACH". In so doing, I feel confident, the world will be made better.
© 2001 Lindley J. Stiles