Harry Samuel Broudy

American philosopher and educator Harry Samuel Broudy (born 1905) received world-wide recognition for his philosophical theories about education, education in a democracy, the aesthetics of education as a dimension of learning, and the presuppositions of competency-based and performance-based teacher education.

Harry Samuel Broudy (born on July 27, 1905) emigrated with his parents, Michael and Mollie (nee Wyzanski) Broudy, from Filipowa, Poland to the United States in 1912 and took up residence in Milford, Massachusetts. After his high school graduation, Broudy chose to enroll at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), rather than follow his father's wishes and enter into rabbinical studies.

Broudy soon discovered that his real interests lay with literature, philosophy, and psychology, not with chemical engineering. He left MIT and earned his B.A. from Boston University in 1929; he was valedictorian for his graduating class. Broudy worked as a reporter for the Milford Daily News after his graduation. In 1932, he enrolled at Harvard University where he studied under the well-known philosophers William E. Hocking, C.I. Lewis, and Alfred North Whitehead. Broudy earned his M.A. from Harvard in 1933 and his Ph.D. in 1936.

It was the height of the Great Depression when Broudy graduated. Unable to find a position as a college instructor, he went to work as a supervisor at the Massachusetts Department of Education. In 1937, Broudy secured a faculty position at Massachusetts State College at North Adams where he taught psychology and philosophy. He transferred to Framingham State Teachers College in 1949 and remained there until 1957. Broudy married Dorothy L. Hogarth in 1947 and they had one child, a son named Richard.

It was during his years at Framingham State Teachers College that Broudy wrote Psychology for General Education (with E.L. Freel, 1956). He also served as president in both the Philosophy of Education Society (1953) and the Association for Realistic Philosophy (1955).

Broudy's philosophical views were based on a tradition of classical realism. He viewed philosophy as a classical discipline concerned with truth, goodness, and beauty. But he was also influenced by the modern philosophies, especially existentialism and instrumentalism. In his popular textbook, Building a Philosophy of Education (1954, 1961), Broudy put forth two major ideas central to his philosophical outlook; first, truth is independent of the individual knower, and second, there are universal structures to be found in humanity's struggle for education and the good life.

In 1957, Broudy was appointed professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Illinois where he gained a reputation as one of America's leading educational philosophers. One issue which he frequently addressed was a concern for education in a democracy. (Democracy and Excellence in American Secondary Education with B.O. Smith and J.R. Burnette, 1964, and Truth and Credibility: The Citizen's Dilemma, 1981.) He believed that for a democracy to flourish, all citizens must have general knowledge (education) and moral commitment.

Broudy also studied the issues centered around society's demands on schools. (The Real World of the Public Schools, 1972, and The Uses of Schooling, 1988.) He saw education as the common link that united a diverse society and he urged the society to renew its commitment to the schools.

In his classic study Enlightened Cherishing: An Essay in Aesthetic Education (1972), Broudy sought to establish the relationship between the aesthetic dimension of learning and education. Broudy strongly believed that imagery held a central role in a child's ability to develop concepts, values, and language skills. In The Role of Imagery in Learning (1987) and The Role of Art in General Education (video, 1988) Broudy stressed the role of images in everyday experiences, particularly in the development of the educated mind.

Although he recognized the importance of John Dewey's philosophy of "warranted assertion as an outcome of reflective thought," Broudy believed in "warranted commitment," a rational process in which individuals decide upon principles and ideals to which they can then make a moral committment.

Broudy further believed that warranted commitment could best be achieved through a common formal study of the arts and sciences. According to this philosophy, schools could best withstand societal demands by remaining focused on the experiences and enduring aspects of human nature found in the arts and sciences. Broudy's philosophy was that of the classical realist; let the demands of external reality support individual rationality and social well-being.

A prolific author, Broudy was a major contributor to several collaborative works including Exemplars of Teaching Method with J.R. Palmer (1965); Philosophy of Education: An Organization of Topics and Selected Sources with M.J. Parsons, I.A. Snook, and R.D. Szoke (1967); and Philosophy of Educational Research with Robert Ennis and L.I. Krimerman (1973).

Broudy was also editor of the acclaimed educational journal Educational Forum (1964-72) and was a regular contributor to yearbooks for the National Society for the Study of Education.

Broudy's work brought him widespread recognition, including honorary doctorate degrees from Oakland University (1969), Eastern Kentucky State University (1979), and Massachusetts State College at North Adams (1981). He was distinguished visiting professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland (1974) and at California State University (1978). He filled several distinguished lectureships including the Bode Lecture (1960), the Kappa Delta Phi Lecture (1972), the Damon Lecture (1976), the De Garmo Lecture (1979), and the John Dewey Lecture (1983). He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1967-1968), and he received a grant from the Spencer Foundation in 1983.

Broudy officially retired from University of Illinois in 1974, but remained active as professor emeritus in the College of Education. He wrote, lectured, and participated in other educational projects until the early 1990s when Alzheimer's disease forced him into full retirement.

Further Reading on Harry Samuel Broudy

Harry Samuel Broudy is listed in the Biographical Dictionary of American Educators (1978), the Dictionary of American Scholars (1982), Leaders in Education (1974), and Who's Who in America (1988-1989). A more detailed accounting of his philosophical beliefs is found in his autobiographical statement, "Unfinishable Business," in Mid-Twentieth Century American Philosophy, edited by P.A. Bertocci (1974). A brief biographical review of Broudy's theory of aesthetic education is Ronald H. Silverman's "Harry S. Broudy: Super Advocate for the Arts," School Arts (March 1979).