Theodore Burghard Hurt Brameld
The Prophet Father of the Coming World

Theodore Burghard Hurt Brameld (1904-1987) was a leading educational philosopher of the 20th century. As an American educator and educational philosopher, Brameld was best known as the founder of Social Reconstructionism. In reaction to the realities of World War II, he recognized the potential for either human annihilation through technology and human cruelty or the capacity to create a beneficent society using technology and human compassion (Philosophical Perspectives). Brameld dedicated his efforts to employing schools as agents for social change. Brameldís works include: Ends and Means in Education (1950), Patterns of Educational Philosophy (1955), Philosophies of Education in Cultural Perspective (1955), Toward a Reconstructed Philosophy of Education (1956), Cultural Foundations of Education (1957), Education and the Emerging Age (1961), Education as Power (1965), The Use of Explosive Ideas in Education (1965), The Climactic Decades (1970), Patterns of Educational Philosophy (1971), The Teacher as World Citizen (1976), and Tourism as Cultural Learning (1977). The objective of this writing is to present a brief synopsis of Theodore Brameldís educational philosophy and his relevance to education.
Brameld advocated that schools be a driving force for social and political change. He held that a system of public education that is aware of the findings of the behavioral sciences could bring about fundamental changes in the social and economic structure of society (The Columbia Encyclopedia). Brameld founded the educational philosophy of Social Reconstructionism which emphasized the addressing of social questions and a quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy (Philosophical Perspectives). Reconstructionist educators focus on a curriculum that emphasizes social reform as the aim of education.
 In the early 1950ís, Brameld outlined the distinctive features of Social Reconstructionism (McNeil). First, he believed in a commitment to building a new culture in which the common people would emerge as the leaders of society. Second, he felt that the working people should control all principal institutions and resources if the world is to become genuinely democratic. The structure, goals, and policies of the new order must be approved and enacted with public support. Third, Brameld believed that the school should help the individual, not only to develop socially, but to learn how to participate in social planning as well. The individual must find ways to satisfy personal needs through social consensus. Fourth, he believed learners must be convinced of the validity and urgency of change but must adhere to democratic procedures.
Brameld believed the creation of a new social order through education would fulfill the basic values of society and harmonize with the underlying social and economic forces of the modern world. The child, the school, and education would be conditioned by social and cultural forces. The teacherís role was to convince his or her students of the validity and urgency of the Reconstructionist solution. In order to do this, education would have to be completely re-fashioned to meet the demands of the present cultural crisis (Four Theories of Education).
Theodore Brameld set out to perfect the American democracy by utilizing education and establishing goals for world unity. Specifically, he proposed a curriculum structure which included the following: 1) a nursery school for ages 2-5 which emphasized guidance and personal development, 2) a lower elementary for ages 6-11 which emphasized social development and related personal qualities, 3) an upper elementary for ages 12-16 which emphasized activities and learning, and 4) a secondary school for ages 17-21 which would be equal to present day high school and 2 years of college (Brameld). Many of his proposals such as a longer school day; a year round school calendar; and open facilities to facilitate adult education, recreation, and counseling are widely accepted as means of improving the education system of today. Brameld has had a major impact on educational thought and practice to which the effects will continue to influence the modern culture of America for generations to come.


Brameld, T. (1956). Toward a reconstructed philosophy of education. New York: Dryden Press.

Four Theories of Education, (7/10/00). Four twentieth century theories of education.

McNeil, J. (1990). Curriculum: a comprehensive introduction. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Philosophical Perspectives in Education, (7/10/00). Educational philosophies.

The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition, (2000). Brameld, Theodore.

Report repared by:
Ben D. Haindel