Willard Goslin (1899-1969), Educator, School Principal, School Superintendent, and Education Professor at Peabody College, Nashville, TN.

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Willard Goslin (1899-1969), Educator, School Principal, School Superintendent, and Education Professor at Peabody College, Nashville, TN. By Franklin & Betty J. Parker, bfparker@frontiernet.net

Willard Goslin, educator, was born in Harrisburg, Mo. in 1899. He was a teacher, school principal, school superintendent, and education professor at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, TN.

We Parkers knew him in the 1950s at Peabody College in Nashville, renamed Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1979. Goslin taught at Peabody during 1951-67. He was chairperson of its Division of Educational Administration and Community Development. He also headed Peabody College's $7 million U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Korea Teacher Education Project.

The lean, lanky farm-reared Missourian began teaching in rural schools at age 16, worked his way through Northeast Missouri State College, Kirksville, B.S., 1922; the University of Missouri, M.A., 1928; took courses at Teachers College, Columbia University, 1930, and Washington University, St. Louis, 1929-35; and later received honorary LL.D. degrees from Occidental College, Los Angeles; and also from Seoul National University, Korea, 1961.

Goslin became a high school principal at age 22 and was superintendent of a small school system in Slater, Mo., at age 23. He became school superintendent at Webster Grove, an upper middle class suburb of St. Louis, 1928-44; was school superintendent of Minneapolis, Minn., 1944-48; and finally school superintendent of Pasadena, Calif., 1948-51.

His forced resignation as Pasadena school superintendent became a cause célèbre among concerned educators and the interested public of that time. Pasadena, California, was the scene of a classic progressive-versus-traditional education confrontation soon after World War II. That confrontation reflected a changed U.S. mood early in the U.S.-USSR cold war. Post-World War II changes brought an influx of poor whites, African-Americans, and other minorities for war work. Their presence inevitably changed Pasadena, previously a wealthy spillover community of Los Angeles and Hollywood. Not only were they a challenge the Pasadena school system had to cope with, but they posed a threat to the long-time wealthy conservative power structure in that city and county.

As new school superintendent, Willard Goslin favored a progressive education curriculum which included studying about UNESCO and world affairs, teaching sex education, and integrating poorer white and minority students into the public schools. Inevitably the changes he urged evoked a postwar conservative reaction that forced his resignation. The Goslin case made national headlines and was described in newsman David Hulburd's This Happened in Pasadena (New York: Macmillan, 1951).

Peabody College President Henry H. Hill (1894-1987), like Goslin a past president of the American Association of School Administrators, had extensive personal ties to Willard Goslin. President Hill urged that Willard Goslin move to Peabody College to lend his educator skills and prestige to Peabody College's school administration programs. Goslin's 16 years as George Peabody College for Teachers professor and administrator were successful and mutually beneficial.

The co-authors well remember the excitement of his presence at Peabody College. Franklin Parker, on whose doctoral committee Prof. Goslin served, was a student in one of Goslin's early classes during the summer of 1952.

So many student registered for his course that a partition between classrooms had to be removed to accommodate them. The large enrolment he attracted resulted from the publicity about his liberal stand at Pasadena, his educational experience, attractive personality, droll humor, and down to earth educational philosophy.

Learn more about Willard Goslin's exciting career and influence as an educator in above-mentioned David Hulburd's This Happened in Pasadenaand by typing: Willard Goslin (1899-1969), Educator, in a search engine like google: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Willard+Goslin&btnG=Google+Search

Send comments, corrections to bfparker@frontiernet.net

Addendum: 24 of Franklin and Betty J. Parker’s book titles are listed in: http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/peabody/about/alum6.html#P

For their writings in blog form, enter bfparker in google.com or in any other search engine.

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