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The William Heard Kilpatrick’s Project Method: on the 150th anniversary of the American educator

Introduction. The project method has been actively used as an important form of organizing the practice of teaching in the educational systems of many countries around the world over the past hundred years. This method is increasingly being used in our country. The very concept of «project method» is invariably associated with the name of its author and popularizer, a major American educator of the late XIX – first half of the XXth centuries. William Heard Kilpatrick (1871-1965). The purpose of the issue is to study the circumstances of the process of formation of W. H. Kilpatrick as a didactic scientist and the creation of a method of projects by him and his associates.

Materials and methods. The leading research methods are the analysis of scientific historical and pedagogical literature and other sources, biographical and historical methods, as well as an axiological approach aimed at identifying the value content of the studied scientific subject.

Results. The author traces the evolution of W. H. Kilpatrick’s views, the stages of his formation as a didactic scientist and a practical teacher. Little-known facts of his biography, which were not previously reflected in the Russian historical and pedagogical literature, are given. Special attention is paid to the disclosure of the essence of the proposed method of projects, which is widely used in pedagogy and education in many countries of the world. The educational system of W. H. Kilpatrick’s «experimentalism» was based on the philosophy of pragmatism and the psychology of behaviorism. Instead of a traditional school, he proposed to build a so-called «educational process», which he considered as the organization of children’s activities in a social environment focused on enriching their individual experience. Training according to the project method was to be carried out through the organization of target acts, which included the formulation of the problem, the preparation of a plan for its implementation and the assessment of implementation. The use of these projects, according to W. H. Kilpatrick, wouldn’t only prepare the child for life after school, but also help him organize his life in the present. Data on the teacher E. Collings, who also worked on the problem of developing the project method, is included. The project classifications are given according to E. Collings and W. H. Kilpatrick. The author shows the scientific relations of W. H. Kilpatrick with a number of well-known teachers-contemporaries (J. Dewey, E. L. Thorndike, E. Collings, F. W. Parker, C. DeGarmo, etc.).

Conclusion. The scientific novelty of the study consists in a meaningful analysis of the views of W. H. Kilpatrick. The legitimacy of the very concept of the project method has long been beyond doubt among serious researchers and practitioners of education. At present, the project method has actually received a rebirth in various spheres of social and industrial life. The main conclusion of the article: the didactic legacy of this major American teacher is significant. It contains a value potential, requires further full-fledged study and deserves active use in modern domestic education.

Keywords: William Heard Kilpatrick, Mercer University, White Plains, project method, Edward Collings, John Dewey, Charles DeGarmo, Peter Petersen

For Reference: Pomelov, V. B. (2021). The William Heard Kilpatrick’s Project Method: on the 150th anniversary of the American educator. Perspektivy nauki i obrazovania – Perspectives of Science and Education, 52 (4), 436-447. doi: 10.32744/pse.2021.4.29

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Information about the author:

Vladimir B. Pomelov (Russia, Kirov) - Professor, Doctor of Pedagogy, Professor of the Department of Pedagogy of the Institute of Pedagogy and Psychology. Vyatka State University. E-mail: vladimirpomelov@mail.ru. ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3813-7745. Scopus Author ID: 57200437621.

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