William Hughes Mearns
Biography of William Hughes Mearns
William Hughes Mearns (1875–1965), better known as Hughes Mearns, was an American educator and poet. A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, Mearns was a Professor at the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy from 1905 to 1920. Mearns is remembered now as the author of the poem "Antigonish" (or "The Little Man Who Wasn't There"), but his ideas, about encouraging the natural creativity of children, particularly those age 3 through 8, were novel at the time. It has been written about him that, "He typed notes of their conversations; he learned how to make them forget there was an adult around; never asked them questions and never showed surprise no matter what they did or said."
Mearns wrote two influential books: Creative Youth 1925, and Creative Power 1929. Essayist Gabriel Gudding credits those books with "[lighting] a fuse" under the teaching of creative writing, influencing a generation of scholars.
He also served for a time (starting in 1920) as head of the Lincoln School Teachers College at Columbia University. He was also a proponent of John Dewey's work in progressive education.