Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Years Ahead of His Time – William George Jordan and “The House of Governors”

Patrick_Henry_RothermelWilliam George Jordan (1864-1928) was a noted author and editor but he was perhaps best known in the early 1900s for his contribution to national politics which began with the publication of a pamphlet entitled The House of Governors in 1907.

In the latter part of 1906 and early 1907 President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Elihu Root advanced the notion that the Federal government needed to be given more power to deal with issues of national concern that the states were unable to resolve[1]. It was this threat that prompted Jordan to action.

Jordan came up with the idea of creating an entity composed of the governors of the states that would provide a forum for the states to resolve issues between themselves and push back on the Federal government. He shared the concept in February of 1907 with President Theodore Roosevelt, his cabinet and the governors of all 46 states when he sent them copies of his pamphlet. By May of 1908 thirty governors had endorsed Jordan’s plan.

The opening of The House of Governors reads as follows:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

William George Jordan: Education versus Mental Training

William George Jordan, was a strong advocate of changing the focus of education. In an article entitled “What’s the Matter with Education”, published in the March 1923 issue of The Forum, he argues that “there is not one single power, faculty, process or quality of the mind that is trained and developed by our present system of education. Our powers are not merely untrained—they are positively mistrained.” He continues “the theory of education, not as we get it from the ideals of educators but as it is evidenced in every detail of the system as it actually exists today, can be given in a single sentence: Education believes that by forcing a certain amount of knowledge, principally by means of textbooks, into the minds of children, that somehow in the divine mystery of mental processes this knowledge will not only be retained, but the mind of the individual will be exercised, trained and developed.” He advocated for a system whose “final aim … is to teach thinking, exercising the individual not in what to think, but in how to think … .