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Florence B. Stratemeyer (1900–1980), a renowned scholar and teacher, had a lasting effect on both teacher education and curriculum development. The cornerstone of Stratemeyer’s professional life was the preparation of principled teachers who act upon reasoned beliefs. She believed that the democratic values of individual freedom and responsibility could be transformed into actions that would lead toward the just solution of life’s recurring problems. In her view, learners moved outward through concentric circles toward situations and problems calling for ever-increasing complex forms of knowledge and maturation. In short, the teaching and learning process evolved through life itself.

Stratemeyer received her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she spent 41 years on the faculty. The centerpiece of Stratemeyer’s scholarship was Developing a Curriculum for Modern Living (1957), a book that she coauthored with Hamden L. Forkner and Margaret McKim. The authors wrote this book while they were members of the Horace Mann-Lincoln Institute for School Experimentation at Teachers College. The three researchers were charged with developing an educational program that was different from any other curriculum that was then in use in the public schools. In Curriculum for Modern Living, learners were enabled to build upon the understandings, values, and skills that arose from facing recurring situations of everyday living.

Stratemeyer’s approach to curriculum development introduced students to formal bodies of knowledge, while stressing higher levels of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Stratemeyer believed that as the situations which students faced became more complex, it was necessary for their understandings and generalized knowledge also to become more complex to meet the central demands of the situation (Nolan 1992).

Stratemeyer’s teacher education legacy can be found in four major volumes. Her contribution to the Flowers Report (Flowers et al. 1948) identified nine guiding principles for professional laboratory experiences. Her landmark proposals and rationale for teacher education appeared in five chapters of Teacher Education for a Free People (Cottrell 1956), a volume that became the standard for teacher education in the mid-20th century. Her book Working with Student Teachers (1958) offered the first verbatim accounts of observations of teachers in classrooms. Her final major contribution New Horizons for the Teaching Profession (1961), which was prepared for the National Commission on Teacher Education and Professional Standards, made both programmatic and institutional recommendations for the future of teacher education (Nolan 1992).

Though Stratemeyer’s professional life was dedicated to curriculum development and teacher education, many of her contributions came through active membership in professional organizations. She worked on numerous committees and gave many inspiring addresses for the Association of Student Teaching, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the American Association of Teachers Colleges (later named the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education), and Kappa Delta Pi, for which she served as Laureate Counselor in 1950. She was well-known for her work in compiling comprehensive annotated bibliographies for the Association for Student Teaching’s annual yearbooks.

While on the faculty of Teachers College, Stratemeyer guided more than 150 doctoral students through the completion of their programs. She was noted for her excellence in teaching and counseling, particularly for her guidance on dissertation writing. Through her former students, many of whom hold positions of educational leadership in various countries and the United States, she continues to influence the shape and form of curriculum design and teacher education throughout the world (Nolan 1992).

Contributed by Gregory J. Nolan, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and Edmund C. Short, Professor Emeritus, The Pennsylvania State University

Cottrell, D. P., ed. 1956. Teacher education for a free people. Oneonta, NY: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Flowers, J. G., F. B. Stratemeyer, and M. Lindsey. 1948. School and community laboratory experiences in teacher education. Oneonta, NY: American Association of Teachers Colleges.

Nolan, G. J. 1992. An analysis of the educational ideas and career of Florence B. Stratemeyer in teacher education and curriculum design. Ed.D. diss., University Park: The Pennsylvania State University.

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