American philosopher and educator Herman Harrell Horne (1874-1946) was a leading spokesman for philosophical idealism in educational theory and practice during the first half of the 20th century. He advocated a spiritual and religious approach to education.
Herman Harrell Horne was born on November 22, 1874, in Clayton, North Carolina. His father was Hardee Horne, a farmer, and his mother was Ida Caroline Harrell Horne. Horne was educated in the public schools of Clayton and also at the Davis Military Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina in the early 1890s, receiving both the B.A. and the M.A. degrees in 1895. Shortly thereafter he attended Harvard University, where he received a second M.A. degree in 1897 and the Ph.D. degree in 1899. He did post-graduate work at the University of Berlin in 1906-1907.
Horne began his teaching career as an instructor in French at the University of North Carolina in 1894, a post he relinquished when he entered Harvard. Following the completion of the doctorate in 1899, Horne took a position as instructor in philosophy at Dartmouth College and quickly rose to the rank of full professor.
While at Dartmouth part of his teaching responsibility was in the area of philosophy of education, and some of his students later became prominent educational leaders, such as Harry Woodburn Chase, later chancellor of New York University; Edmund Ezra Day, later president of Cornell University; and Frank Porter Graham, later president of the University of North Carolina. Horne’s interest in philosophy of education prompted him to leave academic philosophy at Dartmouth in 1909 for the position of professor of history and philosophy of education at New York University, a post he held until his retirement in 1942. In addition to his regular academic posts, he also lectured at numerous other leading colleges, universities, and seminaries.
Horne was an advocate of that philosophical school of thought known as idealism, a school that dominated American philosophy from the mid-19th century well into the 20th. Although idealism fell from favor in more recent times, it exercised a decided influence on American schools and the theory of education and it continues to have moderate influence in religious education. Basically, idealism, as articulated by Horne in Idealism in Education (1910), holds to the centrality of the freedom of will, but it also recognizes that the individual is not an isolated entity; rather, the individual is a part of a larger whole.