The contribution of John Lounsbury to the development of the middle school movement in American education: an oral history.
John H. Lounsbury is considered to be one of the founders of the middle school movement. His career began in the 1940’s as a junior high school teacher. He later became one of the key leaders in the junior high reform movement and subsequently, a leader in the middle school movement. Although Lounsbury retired from his position as professor and dean of the School of Education at Georgia College and State University two decades ago, he is still actively involved in the National Middle School Association and is the senior publications editor for the organization. This dissertation describes his career and his contributions to the middle school movement and his understanding of key philosophical underpinnings. The dissertation also analyzes the impact of Lounsbury’s work in molding the movement and how his work impacted other key leaders. Oral interview was the selected venue for this research because the interview process allowed for Lounsbury’s own interpretation of events which he experienced.
Interviews with Lounsbury were conducted in 2005 and 2006. They were transcribed and analyzed along with interviews of twelve key leaders in the middle school movement as well as interviews of Lounsbury’s wife, Elizabeth Lounsbury, his executive assistant, Mary Mitchell, and high school best friend, Tom Rogers.
The following four research questions were employed in each interview:
What led Lounsbury and others to develop and promote the middle school philosophy?
What factors present in the 1950’s and 1960’s necessitated reform for the education of young adolescents?
What are essential elements for successful education of the middle level student?
What is the future of middle level education?
The responses to these four questions by all interviewees were analyzed and then organized into key themes. The analysis of these key themes brought about five important understandings which are discussed in the summary of findings. This dissertation describes and documents the significance of Lounsbury’s career in shaping the direction and philosophy of the middle school movement.