Bank Street Thinkers Series

Bank Street College has fostered progressive thinkers since its founding, as the Bureau of Educational Experiments, in 1916. A large number of the journal articles and book segments produced by these thinkers were reprinted as the 69 Bank Street Publications Series in the 1960s and 1970s. Taken as a whole, this series provides a valuable lens on the work of the institution. On the Library's shelves, the papers from the series are housed in shabby cardboard bindings which get lost between the larger books. Yet it is through these short pieces that we can easily glimpse the passion, intelligence, and creativity with which these women approached their work with children, parents, and teachers.

In 1999, the Library staff received an institutional minigrant to digitize some of the 69 Bank Street Publications Series. The work of the minigrant involved researching the copyrights, determining historical interest, and finding a technically viable solution for getting the texts online. We are happy to make these texts available to the public.

These papers span nearly forty years of history. They cover geography, social studies, language, the supervision of beginning teachers, the history of Bank Street, and play.


Social Studies and Geography (1934)
By Lucy Sprague Mitchell
A rather weighty article which follows Lucy Sprague Mitchell as she muses upon the meaning of each of the title words separately and then together -- all along providing insight into how children learn best -- by doing.

"Deep As a Giant"-An Experiment in Children's Language (1938)

By Claudia Lewis
Claudia Lewis shares with the reader the delightful and surprising ways in which her class of four and five-year-olds describe the world around them. They refreshingly bypass grown-up cliches with their own version of description: "Easy as drinking water," "fast as you see yourself in the mirror," "flat as a necktie." Although written in 1938, the reader can easily "hear" the same wondrous language in young children today.

How Do We Know a Good Teacher? (1948)
By Barbara Biber and Agnes Snyder
In engagingly simple language, the authors illustrate the many facets of personality and knowledge that make up good teachers and good teaching. They also detail the many reasons why evaluating good teaching is so difficult.

Play As a Growth Process (1951)
By Barbara Biber
Biber writes:
"What do play experiences do for child growth? If a child can have a really full wholesome experience with play, he will be having the most wholesome kind of fun that a child can have. For a child to have fun is basic to his future happiness. His early childhood play may become the basic substance out of which he lays down one of his life patterns, namely, not only that one can have fun but that one can create fun...."

The Bank Street Program: Child Growth and Learning in Social Studies Experiences (1952)
By Charlotte B. Winsor
Charlotte B. Winsor writes:
"The teachers and psychologists who are the Bank Street group lay no claim to the discovery of any new axioms in educational practice. They have invented no method, no device, no gadget that opens magic doors to learning. What they have done is to establish principles based upon the needs and purposes of children, related to the world in which they live..."
This article illustrates a program at City and Country School in which class jobs, such as running the school post office, supply store, and printing shop form the base for social studies experiences. Applying a philosophy similar to that of Bank Street, the curriculum takes into account the maturity and developmental levels of the children, and creates an environment of first hand learning experiences as a backdrop for an enriched integrated curriculum. The magic doors to learning are thus opened.

Supervising the Beginning Teacher (1959)
By Claudia Lewis and Charlotte B. Winsor
This article presents an experimental training program initiated at Bank Street in 1955. Although Bank Street had been preparing college graduates for teaching in an intensive one-year program, faculty questioned whether they could put more teachers into elementary classrooms sooner, for they felt the societal pressures of a growing teacher shortage and questioning of the need for teacher education at all. What follows is a description of the experimental training program in which novice students without teaching experience enter Bank Street in the fall semester, and emerge in the spring carrying full teaching responsibility. The key component? Advisement.

Reassessing the Criteria of Competence in School (1973)
By Edna Shapiro
In this essay, Shapiro defines competence in the various contexts in which it is used. And, she relates the findings of two studies carried out at Bank Street involving young children which illustrate how more sophisticated research strategies are necessary for evaluating competence in school.

What Is Bank Street? (1973)
By Barbara Biber
Here, Biber gives an overview of the Bank Street philosophy in terms of who we are and what we do. She covers the following areas: the School for Children; the Graduate School's preparation of teachers; our broader role in the world of education through our programs for change; and our educational perspective. It's Bank Street in a nutshell.