Could a man who never earned a master's degree tell the nation's teachers and administrators how to run their schools? Jesse Stuart, who had a life-long love of education, did just that. From Stuart's autobiographical works, J .R. LeMaster has chosen selections that demonstrate his philosophy of learning and teaching, and his philosophy of life. The selections establish a loose chrology of events in Stuart's lifelong education and describe his experience as preschooler, student, teacher, and school administrator. This multiple perspective, LeMaster suggests, is essential to understanding the process we call education--a process Jesse Stuart located in nature, believing that human beings are first and foremost natural beings and only incidentally cultural beings. That is, while we belong to an order of human beings, we also belong to a larger order--a universe of living things. In his general introduction LeMaster discusses Stuart's life and philosophy, providing the reader with a backdrop against which to study selections from Beyond Dark Hills, The Thread That Runs So True, The Year of My Rebirth, God's Oddling, Mr. Gallion's School, To Teach, To Love, and other Stuart works. Each excerpt is illumined by LeMaster's discussion of its place in Stuart's philosophy of education. Those concerned with the apparent breakdown of the American educational system will find much to consider in LeMaster's discussion of the implications of Stuart's views on education. He contends that the present crisis in our schools stems from an inadequate philosophy for living and that Jesse Stuart, who believed education was a natural development, knew as much all along.
J.R. LeMaster is professor of English and director of American studies at Baylor University.