Mormon Pacific Historical Society



David O. McKay, Mormon leaders, Pacific education


Before Americans were exposed to the Common School movement of the twentieth century, it was commonly believed that proper nourishment was the only need children had. Horace Mann and later John Dewey, and other leading progressives promoted the philosophy that proper education was another basic need for a successful adult life. Progressives believed that children needed to be exposed to schooling where they could have "experience." Utah progressive educational leaders advocated their own brand of progressivism, most especially, child-centered education. One reason Utah seemed enthused with progressive ideas may have been that most of its citizens during the early 1900s were highly involved with their religion and saw some affinity between Mormonism and progressive thought. The practice of linking education with religion was not a new idea. Horace Mann and the common school folks had done the same thing. American education was at a crossroads, changing from traditional practices to the innovative progressive thought that was strongly influenced by John Dewey and others. Among LDS teachers trained in progressive education, David O. McKay was in a key position to influence the educational policies of the LDS Church.