Helen Parkhurst

Helen Parkhurst (March 8, 1886[1] – June 1, 1973) was an American educator, author, lecturer, the originator of the Dalton Plan, founder of The Dalton School and host of "Child's World with Helen Parkhurst" on ABC Television Network.[2] Parkhurst took her cues from developmental psychologist Jean Piaget and education reformers such as John Dewey and Horace Mann, producing a progressive education philosophy emphasizing the development of the “whole child."

Helen Parkhurst
Helen Parkhurst.jpg
Born(1886-03-08)March 8, 1886
DiedJune 1, 1973(1973-06-01) (aged 87)
EducationWisconsin State Teachers College at River Falls
OccupationEducator, television and radio host
Known forCreator of the Dalton Plan and founder of The Dalton School

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Durand, Wisconsin, she graduated from Wisconsin State Teachers College at River Falls[3]in 1907, studied at the universities of Rome and Munich as well as with Maria Montessori and was awarded her M.A. in 1943 from Yale University. She taught briefly in Wisconsin, moved to Tacoma, Washington, in 1909, and returned to teach at Wisconsin Central State Teachers College from 1913 until 1915. For a time, Parkhurst served as director of all Montessori schools in the United States.[4]


After further work with Montessori in Rome, Parkhurst wrote several books and had her own national radio and television programs.[5] Parkhurst hosted a children's educational program on ABC Radio Network in New York City.[6]

Parkhurst was a 1948 recipient of a Radio - Television Critics Award and a 1949 recipient of the 13th American Exhibition of Educational Radio Programs Award.

Parkhurst was the author of “Education on the Dalton Plan,” which was published in 58 languages; “Exploring the Child's World,” with an introduction by Aldous Huxley, and “Growing Pains,” a book about teenagers. Parkhurst was named one of the 100 Educators of All Time. Parkhurst was decorated by the Queen of Italy, Empress of Japan, and Queen of the Netherlands. Maria Montessori best summarized Parkhurst‘s career by stating, ”Her intelligent activity is truly rare and precious.” Eleanor Roosevelt greatly admired the work of Parkhurst and played a significant role in expanding the population and resources of her school.[7]


Parkhurst's influence has spread across the globe, with schools in the Netherlands, England, Australia, Japan and others adopting the Dalton Plan of education. The Helen Parkhurst Exhibit at the Pepin County Museum traces the life and legacy of Parkhurst. There is a "Helen Parkhurst Dalton School" in Rotterdam and a Parkhurst Lecture Hall at UW-Stevens Point.


  1. ^ Mesch, Terry; Berends (2013). "Helen Parkhurst, remembered today in her hometown" (PDF) (in Dutch and English). Nederlandse Dalton Vereniging. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  2. ^ Parkhurst, Helen (1922). Education On The Dalton Plan. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company. pp. 15–16. Retrieved 2007-12-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Distinguished Alumni: Helen Parkhurst". University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Women's History in America, pg. 199
  5. ^ vrouw die de een school heeft gemaaktid=10cEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA79&ots=tU2gA_xTaH&dq=child's%20world%20helen%20parkhurst&pg=PA79#v=onepage&q=child's%20world%20helen%20parkhurst&f=false "Child's World: New program airs juvenile ideas on God, Jealousy, Death" Check |url= value (help). LIFE. 2 August 1948. Retrieved 18 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Radio: How It Feels". TIME Magazine. 12 April 1948.
  7. ^ A Notable Woman – Helen Parkhurst (PDF) https://www.uwsp.edu/historicpres/Documents/Historical-People/Notable%20woman%20Helen%20Parkhurst.pdf. Retrieved 18 February 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit