Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Birthplace of McGuffey's Reader

The GTOTD staff recently took a field trip to Oxford, Ohio, and the former home of William Holmes McGuffey.

In 1833, in that federal-style red brick home, McGuffey, then a Miami University professor, started teaching graded lessons to informal gatherings of neighborhood school children.

As decribed in an article by former Miami President Phillip R. Schriver, "These lessons incorporated new educational ideas McGuffey had already begun to formulate -- ideas that would benefit the children not only of Oxford and Ohio but of the entire nation.

"Disturbed by the overwhelming pessimism of the schoolbooks then in use in America, and by their preoccupation with death, McGuffey planned to infuse his lessons with the optimism of the frontier, with the belief that a good life could be earned in the here and now as well as in the years to come, and with a code of honor and morality stressing the rewards of honesty, virtue, and industry."

Between 1834 and and 1836, McGuffey wrote his series of readers (six in all) that would eventually sell some 130 million copies. In some rural school districts, they are still used today.

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