Lee, John R. (John Robert), 1923-1976
John Robert Lee was born in Petoskey, Michigan, on December 26, 1923. In the fall of 1957 Lee joined the faculty at Northwestern as Assistant Professor of Education. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1961 and Professor in 1965, the title he was holding at his death on October 10, 1976. His major contributions were his development of the Master of Arts Teaching program, his use of simulated war-peace games and case methods in teaching, and his development of new approaches in teaching U.S. history.
Lee's mother, Mrs. Beryl N. Lee, also had a daughter, Marilyn. John graduated from the Petoskey High School in 1941, and attended Central Michigan College for a year before entering the army. After completing basic training Lee spent five months in the ASTP engineering program at Baylor University. He was sent to the South Pacific where he rapidly rose through the ranks from rifleman to 1st lieutenant and commanding officer of his company in the 7th Infantry. During the fighting on Okinawa he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He was discharged in June, 1946.
Lee returned to Central Michigan College where he received his A.B. (summa cum laude) in English and History in 1948. He worked on an M.A. in Education (Elementary Administration and Supervision) at the University of Michigan during the summers of 1950-1952. During the 1949-50 and 1950-51 academic years he was an elementary teacher in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and he served as an elementary school principal there for the following three years. Lee entered the doctoral program in education at Stanford. He received a Ph.D. in elementary education in September, 1957. While at Stanford Lee worked for the Palo Alto Unified School District in the remedial reading program for the 7th-12th grades and as an administrative intern. He was principal of the Stanford Sumner Demonstration School in 1957.
In the fall of 1957 Lee joined the faculty at Northwestern as Assistant Professor of Education. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1961 and Professor in 1965, the title he was holding at his death on October 10, 1976.
Lee helped initiate the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Northwestern and served as its Director from 1961 to 1964. In 1965 he became Director of the Social Studies Curriculum Study Center at Northwestern, a position he held until 1969.
Teaching was Lee's major interest and he explored a wide variety of methods and techniques in his efforts to produce informed and motivated teachers. He wrote articles and books in the field of education and edited several multi-author volumes. His Emerging Trends in Social Studies and Prologue to Change, both published by Allyn & Bacon, stimulated considerable discussion. Lee and Jonathon C. McLendon edited Readings on Elementary Social Studies for Allyn & Bacon in 1965. A second edition was published in 1970. Lee also wrote many textbooks, guides, and survey reports. He was junior author to his wife, Susan Dye Lee, for a series of elementary historical books.
His major contributions were his development of the Master of Arts Teaching program, his use of simulated war-peace games and case methods in teaching, and his development of new approaches in teaching U.S. history.
Lee also had considerable success producing audiovisual materials, especially films and film strips, many of which were on historical and biographical subjects. His “Helen Keller” won a Chris Certificate at the Columbus Festival, a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, and a Silver Medal at the Venice Film Festival, all in 1970. Many of his other films also won awards.
Lee served as a consultant to several groups, primarily in the legal and publishing fields. Harvard recognized his abilities in these areas by appointing him a World Law Fellow in 1964. He was also in great demand as a speaker for professional and lay organizations.
Many other awards also came to Lee, including the Outstanding Teacher Award presented to him at Northwestern in 1970. Phi Delta Kappa gave him a Service Award in 1965 and in the following year the Evanston Elementary Schools presented him with their Curriculum Award.
Lee and his first wife had three children: Elizabeth (born in 1949, later Mrs. Elizabeth Simon), Jennifer (1950, later Mrs. Jennifer Huffman), and Leslie Ann (1952).