Helen Parkhurst

Intro American educator, author, and lecturer
Was Educator Teacher
From United States of America
Type Academia
Gender female
Birth 3 January 1887, Durand, USA
Death 1 June 1973, Milford, USA (aged 86 years)
Star sign Capricorn

Helen Parkhurst (March 8, 1886 – 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. 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."

Early life and education

Born in Durand, Wisconsin, she graduated from Wisconsin State Teachers College 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.


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


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.

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