When We Work Together (1944)


In 1941, in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States and her allies banded together to create the United Nations. Just as these democratic nations were facing a state of emergency, so too were educators, argued Willard E. Goslin, superintendent of schools in the Webster Groves (Mo.) School District.

Read the article: When We Work Together (PDF)

“The United Nations had to get together in order to survive. The emergency in education is not so dramatic. However, the need for the teachers of this country to begin to work together more effectively may be quite as critical from the viewpoint of the long-run welfare of education and our democracy as that facing the United Nations,” says Goslin.

The metaphor may have been fresher when it was published in Educational Leadership in 1944, but its grand imagery is still stirring, if a bit overwrought. Goslin describes the implementation of a plan for “group action” in his Missouri school district, in which a diverse group of staff came together to discuss problems in their schools and make recommendations to implement change. He stresses that a feeling of ownership among all involved was a key factor in the program’s success.

Although Goslin does not go into detail about any particular changes implemented, he does offer plenty of ideas for groups of educators to run with: advising in the selection of textbooks, mentoring new teachers, and improving school-community relationships. Regardless of the particulars, educators may find themselves stirred by the lofty rhetoric of Goslin to join their colleagues in democratic action—or, at least, to band together in a community of professional learners.


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