What I learned from the Ypsilanti Perry Preschool Project: A teacher’s reflections

Professor Emeritus Louise Derman-Sparks 1
  • 1 Pacific Oaks College, 45 Eureka Street, Suite B, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA


This article, written by one of the teachers in the Ypsilanti Perry Preschool Project (1962-1967), critically examines the prevailing narrative about the preschool project’s relationship to the High/Scope Educational Foundation. It describes what the author and other teachers actually did, the principles that informed their practice, and challenges the prevailing myth that the Perry Preschool used the High/ Scope Educational Foundation curriculum. It also discusses what the High/Scope Longitudinal Study did not research about the program, families, and children in the Ypsilanti Perry Preschool and examines possible factors, beyond the curriculum, which effected its positive outcomes. The Perry Preschool Project occurred during the years of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in the USA, and reflected prevailing ideologies and educational philosophies, some of which were in contention with each other. By bringing the Teachers’ voices to the prevailing discussion, which, to date, is dominated by the Project administrators’ perspective, the article seeks to open up new thinking about the lessons of the Ypsilanti Perry Preschool Project for both early childhood education pedagogy and research.

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