Frederick Lester Burk


Frederic Lister Burk was an inovative educator who's ideas on self-instructed learning, with a minimal about of teacher assistance, came about early in his career (1892-93). Burk was considered to be part of what we know today as the progressive movement in education. Burk's progressive attitudes towards education makes one feel that he felt it was time to overturn the traditional teaching elements within education system thus started creating his own pedagogy for teaching and education.

As president of the San Francisco State Normal School Burk used his unique pedagogy to inspire his students. Their instruction was adjusted to suit their needs and learning styles. They controlled their progress througt the use of instructional materials with minimul support from their teachers. Burk inspired one of his students, Mary Ward. They created numerous sets of self-instructional,self-paced, and self-assessment materials which allowed their learners to progress at a rate suitable to their learning styles. Burk and Ward were stopped by the California Courts with a ruling that only the State Board of Education could publish printed instructionsl materials.The state was able to stop them from writing and selling books but it was not able to delete their learning model for it still exists today as Distance Education.

Today, web based Distance Education or Learning programs are using their model and they are successful. Many sites have been in operation for over 6 years. As technology advances, they too grow. They use text books, correspond through e-mails and chat rooms to exchange ideas or communicate with teachers. Students today as in Burk's days are responsible for their own pacing and instruction. As of this date there are no State restrictions on who can create text books. There are on-line live professors to assist with the minimal assistance, along with sites such as which will allow interaction with other students, posting of your assignments, and many other features.