GEORGE COUNTS (1889-1974)

George Counts entered graduate school at the University of Chicago in 1913. At this time the School of Education was influenced by John Dewey and Francis W. Parker. Educators were determined to develop a plan for the science of education. Charles Hubbard Judd was one of the leaders of this plan. George Counts was a student of Charles Hubbard Judd.

George Counts finished his doctorate in education in 1916 and also studied sociology under Albion W. Small. His experience in sociology made him concentrate on the sociological dimension of educational research. He got his first job as head of the Department of Education at Delaware College. His next job was at Harris Teachers College in 1918. He left there and went to the University of Washington in 1919. George Counts then went to Yale in 1920. He returned to the University of Chicago in 1926. His long career at Teachers College, Columbia University began in 1927.

George Counts wrote "The Principles of Education" with J. Crosby Chapman. It was a philosophical, psychological, and methodological overview of American Education (Gutek, 250). The Principles of Education of 1924 favored the philosophy of John Dewey. In the 1920's Counts shared in the child-centered movement in progressive education.

George Counts wrote "Dare the School Build a New Social Order?" which is a pamphlet that consists of three papers that were read in February 1932 at national educational meetings. One paper was read before the Progressive Education Association in Baltimore, another paper before a division of the Department of Superintendence in Washington, and another paper before the National Council of Education in Washington. The titles of the three papers were: Dare Progressive Education Be Progressive; Education Through Indoctrination; and Freedom, Culture, Social Planning, and Leadership.

George Counts wanted teachers to lead society instead of following society. The teachers were leaders and should be policy makers who could decide between conflicting purposes and values. Teachers should be concerned with school matters, but should also be concerned with controversial matters of economics, politics, and morality. George Counts believed the school was an agency involved in society's politics, economics, art, religion, and ethics (Ornstein/Levine, 144). If the school was involved it could either reflect the knowledge, beliefs, and values of the society, or it could seek to change them (Ornstein/Levine, 144). The school, in order to be socially reconstructive, had to help solve problems. George Counts believed American schools needed to identify with such progressive forces as labor unions, farmers' organizations, and minority groups (Ornstein/Levine, 143). By joining with groups that wanted to change society, the schools then could make social improvements. If school teachers were to act as statespersons, then the solving of major issues would result in a new social order (Ornstein/Levine, 144).

In conclusion, George Counts liked the progressive type of education. He wrote many papers, but is most noted for writing "Dare the School Build a New Social Order?" He also believed that teachers could help change society.


Gutek, Gerald. The Educational Theory George S. Counts. Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1970.

Ornstein, Allan, and Daniel Levine. Foundations of Education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

Prepared by Christine Teeter