Edwin M. Bridges, retired professor of education from Stanford University best known for applying problem-based learning to the training of educational leaders, has died. He was 85.
Bridges joined the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 1974, where he founded the school’s Prospective Principals’ Program, which for roughly a decade used realistic simulations to help future leaders build management and organizational skills.
Himself a former principal, Bridges worked to strengthen what he saw as a weak link in K-12 education: supervisors resourceful and resilient enough to help teachers grow. The program “applied his extensive scholarship on project-based learning to the real world of education administration. The Prospective Principals Program has inspired revisions in administrator preparation around the world,” Kirst said.
Deeply interested in students’ welfare, Bridges and his wife, Marjorie, in 1989 held a garage sale at their campus home to benefit a visiting Chinese high-school student who wanted to attend a U.S. community college but was being asked for a financial guarantee.
“If he saw a student who needed help, he’d think of a way to help, and also a way to publicize the situation,” Marjorie said.
Bridges said in 1991: “At the heart of teaching are views about the conditions under which students learn best. My own views lead me to emphasize the importance of creating a supportive classroom environment in which mistakes are regarded as learning opportunities and the instructor models the practices and philosophy that he espouses.
In 2010, the University Council for Educational Administration honored Bridges’ lifetime accomplishments by instituting its Edwin M. Bridges Award to recognize contributions to pre-service preparation as well as continuing professional development aimed at school leaders. Recipients of the award include: Martha M. McCarthy, Loyola Marymount University; Perry Zirkle, Lehigh University; Joseph F. Murphy, Vanderbilt University; Alan Walker, Hong Kong University; Margaret T. Orr, Bank Street University; Diana Pounder, University of Utah; Ellen Goldring, Vanderbilt University; Linda Skrla, University of the Pacific; Michelle D. Young, University of Virginia.