EVERETT K. WILSON A Study in Civics 1937

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Everett K. Wilson
A Study in Civics

“A Pine Mountain Study in Civics” by Everett K. Wilson, 1937. Title Page. [study_civics_04title_pg.jpg]

EVERETT K. WILSON A Study in Civics 1937

TAGS: Everett K. Wilson, John A. Spelman, III, PMSS publications, A Study in Civics, Pine Mountain Study in Civics, vocational education, government, curricula, rural communities, John Dewey, Glyn Morris, Arthur W. Dodd, Jr., August Angel, Fred J. Burkhard

In 1937, when A Study in Civics was written, Everett K. Wilson (1913-1999) was a young teacher just feeling his way in the educational program at the School. This small book published while Wilson was an intern in the Antioch College instructor program at Pine Mountain, grew from Wilson’s training in the field of sociology at Antioch in Ohio. It was eagerly welcomed as a concise guide for the students at Pine Mountain where civics was a core requirement of all students. Copies of the guide were reproduced by the school’s print shop under the direction of August Angel and Fred Burkhard. It included block prints by resident artist John Spelman III and strong endorsement by the School’s director, Glyn Morris.

Pine Mountain was Wilson’s first teaching experience as an intern in the Antioch practice teaching program and when he left the School two years later he went on to a doctoral program at the University of Chicago and later to a faculty position at the University of North Carolina. He became one of the leading scholars in the field of sociology and a leader of the American Sociological Association. Even in his brief time at the School he left a remarkable legacy in the many lives he touched and changed.

A Study in Civics: DESCRIPTION

EVERETT K WILSON A Pine Mountain Study in Civics 1937

“A Study in Civics” by Everett K. Wilson, 1937. Cover. [wilson_study_cover.jpg]

A Study in Civics is a small book published and printed by Pine Mountain Settlement School students and authored by Everett K. Wilson, a staff member of the School. The illustrations in the book, the work of John A. Spelman III, are typical of the many linoleum and woodblock prints that Spelman III and his students produced in the late 1930s.

The printing of the book, guided by printing instructors August Angel and Fred Burkhard, was part of the robust vocational education program offered to the students. This small 97-page book belonged to Arthur W. Dodd, Jr, the PMSS School Principal. He read the original manuscript and offered critique and suggestions on the first draft and later used the text when he taught the same class to students at the School. The book contains Dodd’s brief annotations and his book-plate.

This is a tool for educating good citizens to engage their civic responsibilities. Today stand-alone civics courses rarely show up in the general high-school curriculum and certainly, few are mapped so carefully to their specific community. Today it is also rare to find any secondary course as compulsory and comprehensive as this small book which is focused on a cohort experience. All students at Pine Mountain were compelled to take the civics course during their Boarding School years. The course follows the developing county-wide educational goals which were explored and ultimately integrated into the development of the Rural Youth Guidance Institute, a county-wide educational planning initiative begun by Glyn Morris (PMSS Director 1931-1941).

A Study in Civics: EXCERPTS

Wilson describes the book’s use and states that each student must follow the projects outlined in the text:

Each project must be complete and correct before you will be able to go on to the next. Each project has two or three parts: The first is always in this book; the second in Hill’s Vocational Civics, and occasionally a third requiring research in other books. The projects for the first semester are: 


Specialization and Dependence at Pine Mt. 
The Home and Family
Public Welfare
Law and Government
Your LIfe Work

Every student will be expected to complete the projects in the Pine Mountain Civics book. Most will carry additional projects in the civics book by Hill.

[**Howard Copeland Hill (1870-1940) Community and Vocational Civics. The Hill book borrowed heavily from John Dewey who wrote the forward to Hill’s book, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1903 and in continuous print until 1932.]

Some observations made by Wilson and Dewey: 

A most important part of your life in and with the community is your vocation. [Wilson]

… in the ideal school, we have the reconciliation of the individualistic and the institutional ideals. [Dewey]

At Pine Mountain, we believe that education is learning to live. [Wilson]

… the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but the formation of the proper social life. [Dewey]

You have probably worked with other boys or girls who were slackers on the job or who were awkward, clumsy and slow. Unless they learn to work quickly, efficiently, and with good spirit, they will find that someday when they are older, all the good jobs have passed on to those who have learned to work well. [Wilson]

… the community’s duty to education is, therefore, its paramount moral duty. By law and punishment, by social agitation and discussion, society can regulate and form itself in a more or less haphazard and chance way. But through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources, and thus shape itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move. [Dewey]

At Pine Mountain, we have no report cards. Do you know why? If you were Principal, would you have the effort of a student in a certain subject included in his grade for that subject? Would you mark a student with little ability and a very bright student on the same basis? How would you be sure that all of your teachers gave grades on the same basis? …[Wilson]

what the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy. [Dewey]


Not all of young Wilson’s ideas square well with Dewey and with today’s world, but it is remarkable to read such a clear vision of what Wilson believed to be a pathway to a civil society. Even more remarkable are the number of students who took that pathway and became outstanding contributors to their vocation and to society.

GALLERY: EVERETT K. WILSON A Study in Civics 1937

– Biography
JOHN A. SPELMAN III Staff – Biography

See Also:
Resource re: Howard Copeland Hill