In the 20th century, Individualism had an impact on education and this thing brought about a new system of education which is known as the “Dalton Plan”. Miss Helen Parkhurst was the original exponent of this plan. She was responsible for the education of the children of various classes and, therefore, it was not possible for her to teach them all, at a time. Due to this position, she used to teach a few of them and assign tasks to others. In this process, in 1913, she gave a new scheme to the field of education. Miss Parkhurst had also worked with Dr Maria Montessori and therefore, she had come to realize that only that education can be effective and permanent which is based on individual differences. She was, therefore, very much in favour of imparting education on the basis of individual differences. In her own words:
“Dalton Plan is a piece of machinery for putting into operation the principle of individual work. It is a simple and economic reorganization of the school whereby pupils and teachers function to better advantage”.
With this aim in view, she drew this plan of education. This plan was, first of all, introduced in the Dalton city of the state of Massachusetts and so it is named after that city. Miss Helen Parkhurst has given out the details of this plan in her book entitled “Education on the Dalton Plan“.
Aim of Education Under Dalton Plan:
Miss Parkhurst evolved this scheme, in order to do away with the defects of education of her time. Education in those days was teacher-centred. There was neither any place in it for the child nor for his free development. He had to depend on the teacher all the time for all sorts of things. No attention was paid to the individual difference and psychological development of the children. The bright students, as well as the dullards, were taught in the same way. Education was more or less, dry. The atmosphere in the schools used to be stiff and inhuman and many of the children were afraid of going to the schools. Although Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Herbart, Froebel, Montessori etc. had introduced many reforms in the field of education, yet the situation had not changed very much. The old saying “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was still very much in use. Miss Parkhurst tried to evolve a scheme of education that was “child-centred” and that provided an opportunity for the child to develop his personality in an atmosphere ringing with freedom.
Some people have remarked that it is, more or less, a reorganization pattern of education but the fact is far away from it. It presents altogether a new shape of education. Miss Helen Parkhurst has very clearly defined in the following words, “The aim of Dalton Plan was to create a new type of educational society by putting boys and girls under entirely different conditions of lining from those provided in the ordinary classroom and to reorganize the community life of the school”.