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Title: Theorizing progressivism : an examination of the life and works of A.S. Neill and Susan Isaacs through the related contexts of intentionality
Author: Howlett, J. P.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This research is concerned with an investigation of progressive education, ostensibly through the writings of two of its major figures – A. S. Neill (1883-1973) and Susan Isaacs (1885-1948). The project seeks to go against traditional historical accounts relating to progressivism which have tended to see it as a linear homogenous entity with individual educators ‘speaking to one another’ across time with a shared sense of ideas and concepts. The debunking of these notions is carried out through the explication, importation and development of a three stage, tri-partite model encompassing biography, social and economic factors and linguistic analysis. This latter context is central to the study as it utilises the sort of approach advocated by Quentin Skinner, involving the recall of authorial intention, embedded in the texts of the authors. For Skinner, as for the project, there are two kinds of intention that need to be decoded: first, locutionary meaning which is how individual authors are utilising a particular term in relation to their contemporaries and second, illocutionary force which relates to what an author is doing in making a statement, for example issuing a warning or making a threat. It is this later concept particularly which betrays Skinner’s indebtedness to the philosopher J. L. Austin. This part of the analysis involves an extensive reading of the relevant contemporary archive. By comparing the differences inherent within the author’s lives and teaching experiences, their relationships to politics and new ideas and, especially, the different ways in which they use and manipulate language the project then begins to posit conclusions not merely relating to the authors themselves but progressive education more generally.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available