Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition
Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan
Chapter 3. The Dalton School: The Transformation of a Progressive School
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THE DALTON SCHOOL
The Transformation of a Progressive School
Susan F. Semel
A coeducational, independent day school located on the fashionable Upper East Side of Manhattan founded in 1919 by Helen Parkhurst on West 72nd Street, the Dalton School moved to its East 89th Street location in 1929.1 At present, the Middle School and High School, grades 4 through 12, are housed at 108 East 89th Street. The Lower School, grades K through 3, is housed in a series of cleverly connected townhouses at 53, 61, and 63 East 91st Street. A new physical education facility, opened in 1992, is housed in a luxury apartment building at 200 East 87th Street.
Although Helen Parkhurst founded Dalton as a progressive school with the financial backing of Mrs. W. Murray Crane, the wife of the owner of Crane Paper Company, the school has strayed from the original intentions of its founder. Today, Dalton is a competitive, elite, college preparatory school with tuition costs in excess of $40,000 per year.2 Few parents who apply know or care about Dalton’s progressive roots. This chapter examines the gradual transformation of the Dalton School’s progressive pedagogic practices from its beginnings to the present.3 ← 53 | 54 →
The Parkhurst Years (1919–1942): Curriculum and Pedagogy at Dalton
It was probably around 1915–1916 that her fortuitous relationship with Mrs. W. Murray Crane began, the woman who would provide Helen...
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