The Influence of John Dewey
With the support of prominent music educator, Mrs. Johnnie V. Lee, Samuel A. Floyd Jr. entered Southern Illinois University (SIU) at Carbondale, Illinois, in 1964, and he completed a Master of Music Education (MME). He also established a percussion studio in the basement of his home, where he taught the techniques of the concert marimba. His passion for teaching young people prompted him to investigate the science and philosophy of education so that he could become a more dynamic and effective pedagogue. By the mid-1960s, SIU had begun to host a number of visiting professors, whose research was at the forefront of America’s overarching shift in educational strategies, and the university sought to build one of the nation’s most robust programs in education, complete with relevant archival collections and research centers. Curiosity led Sam to spend countless hours poring over the papers at the Center for Dewey Studies, whose namesake–John Dewey–had been a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Dewey’s pioneering work in experiential learning and pragmatism earned him the reputation of America’s premier scholar of education. His idea of the use of education to cure social ills immediately resonated with Sam. Sam enrolled in courses taught by George Counts and Theodore Brameld, who were striving to expand Dewey’s work and provide opportunities for new scholars to consider the application of Dewey’s educational philosophies to other subjects. Over the next few years, Sam worked toward a PhD in the philosophy of education and wrote his dissertation on Dewey’s notion of “appreciation” as applied to music, earning his degree in 1969.