Eugenics and Education: Implications of Ideology, Memory and History

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Title: Eugenics and Education: Implications of Ideology, Memory and History
Author: Winfield, Ann Gibson
Advisors: Dr. Paul Bitting, Committee Member
Dr. Anna V. Wilson, Committee Chair
Dr. Kenneth Brinson, Committee Member
Dr. Peter Hessling, Committee Member
Abstract: Eugenics has been variously described "as an ideal, as a doctrine, as a science (applied human genetics), as a set of practices (ranging from birth control to euthanasia), and as a social movement" (Paul 1998 p. 95). "Race suicide" (Roosevelt 1905) and the ensuing national phobia regarding the "children of worm eaten stock" (Bobbitt 1909) prefaced an era of eugenic ideology whose influence on education has been largely ignored until recently. Using the concept of collective memory, I examine the eugenics movement, its progressive context, and its influence on the aims, policy and practice of education. Specifically, this study examines the ideology of eugenics as a specific category and set of distinctions, and the role of rhetoric and collective memory in providing the mechanism whereby eugenic ideology has shaped and fashioned interpretation and action in current educational practice. The formation of education as a distinct academic discipline, the eugenics movement, and the Progressive era coalesced during the first decades of the twentieth century to form what has turned out to be a lasting alliance. This alliance has had a profound impact on public perception of the role of schools, how students are classified and sorted, degrees and definitions of intelligence, attitudes and beliefs surrounding multiculturalism and a host of heretofore unexplored ramifications. My research is primarily historical and theoretical and uses those material and media cultural artifacts generated by the eugenics movement to explore the relationship between eugenic ideology and the institution of education.
Date: 2004-04-08
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Educational Research and Policy Analysis
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4234


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