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Iconoclast

Abraham Flexner and a Life in Learning

Thomas Neville Bonner

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In this, the first biography of Abraham Flexner (1866–1959), distinguished scholar Thomas N. Bonner offers an engaging and insightful view of one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century American education. From his early, pathbreaking work in experimental primary schools to the founding of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Abraham Flexner's influence on American education was deep, pervasive, and enduring. In Thomas N. Bonner, Flexner has at long last found the biographer that his critical role in American education deserves.

The son of poor Jewish…

In this, the first biography of Abraham Flexner (1866–1959), distinguished scholar Thomas N. Bonner offers an engaging and insightful view of one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century American education. From his early, pathbreaking work in experimental primary schools to the founding of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Abraham Flexner's influence on American education was deep, pervasive, and enduring. In Thomas N. Bonner, Flexner has at long last found the biographer that his critical role in American education deserves.

The son of poor Jewish immigrants in Louisville, Kentucky, Flexner was raised in the Reconstruction South and educated at the Johns Hopkins University in the first decade of that institution's existence. Upon earning his degree in 1886, he returned to Louisville to found—four years before John Dewey's Chicago "laboratory school"—an experimental school based on progressive ideas that soon won the close attention of Harvard President Charles Eliot. After a successful nineteen-year career as a teacher and principal, he turned his attention to medical education. His 1910 survey—known today as the Flexner Report—stimulated much-needed, radical changes in the field and, with its emphasis on full-time clinical teaching, remains to this day the most widely cited document on how doctors best learn their profession.

Flexner's subsequent projects—a book on medical education in Europe and a comparative study of medical education in Europe and America—remain unsurpassed in range and insight. For fifteen years a senior officer in the Rockefeller-supported General Education Board, he helped raise money—more than 6 billion in today's dollars—for education in medicine and other subjects. His devastating critique of American higher education in 1936 raised the hackles of educators—but ultimately raised important questions as well. Three years later he created and led the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, convincing Albert Einstein to accept the first appointment at the newly created institute.

Brilliant, abrasive, tenderhearted, and fundamentally a decent, farseeing man, Abraham Flexner accomplished much good in the world. His story, based on new archival sources and told with verve and wit, is sure to become the definitive work on a man and his era.

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Iconoclast

Thomas Neville Bonner

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Reviews

Reviews

The book offers historical insights about philanthropy, educational reform, and institutional governance and decision making... In Bonner's capable hands, Flexner emerges an interesting figure whose successes are combined with contradictions and shortcomings.

An outstanding and thorough study of this remarkable American educator who, more than anyone before or since, defined what a medical school should be, left indelible marks on public education, and founded one of the most innovative centers of advanced study in the world. Bonner adroitly portrays in this masterful biography what America and the world owes to Flexner for his vision, creativity, tenacity, and advocacy of progressive education.

Few nonphysicians have had as profound and long-lasting an effect on modern American medicine as Abraham Flexner... An excellent book about a highly significant and neglected figure.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
424
ISBN
9780801871245
Illustration Description
25 halftones
Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1. "Our Children Will Justify Us"
Chapter 2. A University Like No Other
Chapter 3. Mr. Flexner's School
Chapter 4. Breaking Free
Chapter 5. A Legend Is Born
Chapter 6. Master of the

Introduction
Chapter 1. "Our Children Will Justify Us"
Chapter 2. A University Like No Other
Chapter 3. Mr. Flexner's School
Chapter 4. Breaking Free
Chapter 5. A Legend Is Born
Chapter 6. Master of the Survey
Chapter 7. A Secure Berth–At Last
Chapter 8. At the Pinnacle
Chapter 9. A Fall from Olympus
Chapter 10. Phoenix Rising
Chapter 11. A Last Hurrah
Chapter 12. Final Battles
Chapter 13. "I Burn That I May Be Of Use"
Notes
A Note on Sources
The Published Writings of Abraham Flexner
Acknowledgements
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Thomas Neville Bonner

Thomas N. Bonner is Distinguished Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus of Wayne State University. He is the author of five books on the history of medicine and education, and two textbooks. He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and was a Rockefeller Foundation Resident at Baellagio, Italy. The former president of three universities and colleges–the University of New Hampshire, Union...