Biography of Raymond H. Hartjen, Ph.D.

Dr. Raymond H. Hartjen holds a Ph.D. in educational research, and currently lives in East Hampton, New York, where he directs a nonprofit educational corporation.  His personal and professional involvement in education spans more than three decades. At various times a teacher, consultant, lecturer, headmaster, entrepreneur, and researcher, his interest in progressive forms of learning has been a dominant force throughout his adult career.

Dr. Hartjen received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1957 from St Lawrence University.  For the next three years he undertook a Masters Degree in School Psychology and simultaneously taught wood shop at the Whalen Junior High School in the Bronx, New York

In September 1960 he began his career as a School Psychologist in the eastern suburbs of Rochester, New York.  To his amazement most of the students he saw, he saw because of their inability to cope with an antiquated system of education.  Their advanced skills and thinking did not fit into the restrictive lock step of the system.

Thus began his search for alternative forms of education.  He left School Psychology to form the   Koncept-O-Graph Corporation to market his invention of a teaching machine, which became known throughout the world.  Unfortunately, the pedagogical underpinnings of programmed instruction did not hold up.  His invention and corporation were bought out by a major corporation in the educational AV field, only to cease operations two years later at his recommendation.

The next ten years saw him move into higher education, first as a Learning Resource Specialist at Florida Atlantic University and then as a Media Production Specialist at University of Pittsburgh.  In June of 1967 he had completed a Masters Degree in Educational Communications and Technology at Pitt.  That same month he joined the prestigious Learning Research and Development Center at Pitt, under the direction of Dr. Robert Glaser.  As a research assistant and later research associate he had the responsibility of translating hieratically sequenced behavioral objectives into manipulatives for the IPI (Individually Prescribed Instruction) project.  He further had the responsibility of teaching in the Graduate School of Education and undertook a Ph. D. program in Educational Research Metrologies.  This was awarded in 1975.

During his years at the University of Pittsburgh he and his wife introduced their children to the educational pedagogy of the English Infant School.  At the same time he was invited to be a member of the board of this pilot school.  The board was directed by Teresa Heinz and had among its members Fred Rogers.  It was in this position that he was introduced to “self directed learning in a democratic setting”.

His next four years were spent searching for a niche where he could pursue his interest in educational reform.  These moves to Brooklyn New York and Southern Maryland saw him as headmaster of a private school and as an Associate Dean of Learning Resources at a community College.

In June of 1977 he received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education as the State Facilitator for the National Diffusion Network, which he successfully held onto until his retirement in 1996.  In this position he was responsible for helping to transfer highly successful educational practices from their schools of origin to Maryland Schools where such need for improvement had been identified.  Functionally he became a broker of highly specialized teacher training workshops.

Not totally satisfied with this role and the less than cutting edge of educational reform that the NDN represented, he decided to set down on paper his thoughts on where the cutting edge may be.  His book, “Empowering the Child: Nurturing the Hungry Mind” published in September 1994, was met with resounding success.  Reviews were beyond an authors dream.  The first printing of 3,000 copies were gone in a little over a year.  Some schools bought over 100 copies for distribution to all of their principals while one professional organization, ASCD, purchased 600 copies.

As he reached retirement age, Dr. Hartjen was invited to become a member of the Board of the Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  This school is modeled on the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts.  It is here that “self directed learning in a democratic setting” is truly put into practice.

Dr. Hartjen’s career has its underpinnings in a search for a sustainable educational reform model that truly meets the educational needs of the children of the 21st century.  The Sudbury Valley School, which recently celebrated its 30th year, is now the focus of his attention.

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