Charles E. Vawter and Representations of Progressive Education

Meagher, Hugh, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Alridge, Derrick, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Charles E. Vawter and Representations of Progressive Education
(Under the Direction of Derrick P. Alridge)
Charles Erastus Vawter, who in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century served as the Superintendent of the Miller Manual Labor School of Albemarle and the Rector of the Board of Visitors at both Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Virginia State University, was an important progressive educator whose influence is profound but who remains largely forgotten in the early twentieth-first century. After serving as an officer in the Confederate Army’s “Stonewall Brigade”, Vawter completed his undergraduate education at Emory and Henry College and received his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Virginia. Vawter then devoted the remaining thirty-six years of his life to the education of young Virginians – most of whom came from very humble backgrounds. Despite his prominent role at Miller Manual, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University, a comprehensive study of Vawter’s educational thought has not been attempted prior to this study.
This study seeks to describe and clarify Vawter’s educational thought, concentrating on his twenty-seven-year tenure as the superintendent of the Miller School of Albemarle, his fourteen-year service as Rector on the Virginia Polytechnic Board, and his four-year tenure as Rector of the Virginia State University Board, which terminated with Vawter’s death in 1905. The study clarifies the ways in which Vawter’s upbringing in rural western Virginia, manual training study at the College of Emory and Henry, service in the Confederate Army, and his deep Christian faith shaped his educational philosophy. This study uses historical research methods as a vehicle to place in context Vawter’s life experiences and how these experiences shaped his educational methodology. Furthermore, Vawter’s educational opinions are noteworthy as American educators struggle to replace the current system of high stakes testing with a system that teaches higher-level thinking.
INDEX WORDS: Charles E. Vawter; Miller School of Albemarle; Virginia Public Universities; Progressive Education; Manual Training Education; Industrial Training; Christianity; Individual Worth

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Sponsoring Agency:
Miller School of Albemarle
Issued Date: