Bank Street began in 1916 as the Bureau of Educational Experiments, signaling founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s resolve that education begins with the scientific study of children to understand their needs and interests. It is just not possible, she argued, to design the right school, or change a failed one, if we do not know, first of all, how children learn.
Mitchell set out to research child development in experimental schools to discover how children learn best. When the Bureau first opened its doors its staff included a social worker, a doctor, psychologists, and teachers, laying the groundwork to welcome children to a new kind of nursery school in 1918 — the forerunner of today’s School for Children.
When it moved to 69 Bank Street in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1930, the Bureau expanded its nursery school and opened a Cooperative School for Teachers. 20 years later, the school began conferring master’s degrees when it formally became Bank Street Graduate School of Education, which today remains known for its intensive fieldwork and advisement component.