The pilgrim's progress: The progressivism of Francis Wayland Parker (1837-1902)

Matthew Stanley Fliss, University of Pennsylvania


This study examines the sources of the progressivism of Francis Wayland Parker as found in his schools, his life and ancestry. It considers the nature of Parker's progressivism, and asks three questions regarding his pedagogy. Can the progressivism of Parker be considered religious? Did his schools replicate functions of the New England village? From whence did Parker's Progressive thought arise? The question of the possible religious dimension is considered through a study of his biography, ancestry, letters, papers, and through an analysis of the folk tradition of New England. The replication of values in Parker's progressive schools is analyzed in the context of the tradition of the New England village. The question of progressivism's origin is considered in regard to the life experience of Parker and his contact with European pedagogues. Interviews with progressive educators and reformers supplement a broad based library search which includes unpublished information from the Parker Papers at The University of Chicago. The study draws three conclusions. First, there is a religious basis for Parker's progressivism. An examination is made of the nature of that basis. Secondly, that Parker's progressivism replicated in his common schools the content of the New England village. Thirdly, progressivism which arose from Parker's life experience, ancestry and the tradition of New England was confirmed by Parker's encounter with the European pedagogues Froebel, Pestalozzi and Comenius.

Subject Area

Education history

Recommended Citation

Fliss, Matthew Stanley, "The pilgrim's progress: The progressivism of Francis Wayland Parker (1837-1902)" (1988). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8816128.