Certainly there were action plans in the earliest days of the Bureau of Educational Experiments, the organization that grew into Bank Street College. In 1916, Mitchell convinced her wealthy cousin that she had a plan and goals for the Bureau, and that secured the seed money and annual fund for ten years. A summary of the Bureau’s development written in 1931 looked back at the aims in 1916. It was organized “for the purpose of studying newer methods of education and of contributing to their development… The first form of organization was a Bureau of Information.” (Summary of the Development of the Bureau of Educational Experiments, p. 1).
When the Bureau became active in teaching, new beliefs emerged. Mitchell was edging closer to an official credo for the institution, writing in an internal May 1919 Chairman’s Report:
I am thinking of the difficulties and discussions of the past years which I honestly believe have brought the group to something like a common platform in the matter of educational principles and the consequent school procedure as nothing else could have done. I believe the group is not only in essential agreement; I think it is articulate as never before. I believe it is now safe for the Bureau to start the school classes which it plans.
Moreover I believe it is only through the responsibilities and privileges of our own school that we can ever bring any of our work, even of the type we have already tried, through to a satisfactory standard… Our beliefs do not carry conviction–perhaps not even to ourselves–unless they are tried out under the actual working conditions of a school…
I believe it is only through the explicit understanding of these underlying and guiding principles that we can understand the meaning of the work we are beginning with children.
… Our school environment resolves itself, consequently, into our beliefs about how children grow.
We believe children grow through experiencing and therefore the school should furnish the children with real and first-hand experiences relating to and interpreting the world immediately around them. We also believe that emotional satisfaction and health is obtained only through self-expression.
From the beginning the aim will be to raise inquiries in the children and give them the opportunity to answer them.
When Mitchell wrote the introduction to a published 1922 report on “A Nursery School Experiment” by co-founder of the Bureau Harriet Johnson, she stated that “The aim underlying all the Bureau work has been to get specialists and schools together for their mutual benefit.” In her closing, she added, “We believe that experimenters should share their thinking as they work,–their aims, their programs, their methods of attack, their current findings and even their hopes for the future… This report aims only to show how we are making the effort to study the educational factors in the environment of small children and to gather scientific data concerning their growth.” Johnson then followed with her report; issuing several aims and beliefs that, taken together, made up a credo for the Bureau Nursery School.