THE HISTORY OF WILLIAM
ARTICLE ORIGINALLY FROM TROOPERS87.COM
In 1907, William A. Wirt became superintendent of schools
in Gary, Ind., where he developed a plan of school operation
(progressive education) known variously as the Gary plan,
the platoon system, and Wirt's "Work-Study-Play"
This system increased the utilization of the school
plant by alternating classes between regular and special
Wirt was in many ways the father of modern education
and the education this system he built in the city became
a national model. Going beyond the mere basics of "reading,
writing, and arithmetic," Wirt believed in the education
of the whole child.
Into Gary's first classrooms he introduced courses in
technical and practical skills from woodworking and bookbinding
to cooking and pattern making. Wirt also incorporated
playgrounds into the mix, asserting that physical and
social development were important attributes of a well-rounded
Wirt's schools were a beehive of activity where children
not only learned mathematics, history, and philosophy,
but also tended gardens, fed and learned about animals,
and acquired demonstrable skills.
Today educators take it for granted that young minds
learn best with visual aids and hands-on tools.
It was Wirt who invented the concept. When he decided
to teach geology, Wirt made a contour map out of clay
and brought it to the classroom.
His ideas formed the foundation of educational initiatives
-- from social development to now extensive programs in
vocational education -- that continue into the new century.
William Albert Wirt (1874–1938). The father of
William A. Wirt High School.