Esther McDonald Lloyd-Jones

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Esther McDonald Lloyd-Jones

Known for her contributions to school personnel work, Esther McDonald Lloyd-Jones (1901-1991) sought to focus personnel work on the development of the whole person rather than as a set of efficient services to students. She had a major impact on guidance services in the United States.

Esther McDonald was born Jan. 11, 1901, in Lockport, Illinois. She earned her Bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1923 and her Masters and Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York, in 1924 and 1929, respectively. Esther McDonald was married to a man she had met in her teens, Silas Lloyd-Jones, in June 1924. They had two children. With her husband she maintained a farm in Indiana where she employed all the practical crafts associated with farming, priding herself on being a rather skillful "do-it-yourselfer, " even while engaged in her active professional life. Her other interests included music (in her early years she was a gifted concert pianist and composer), a love for both wild and tame animals, minerals and rocks of her home environment, and economics. Between 1963 and 1969, she endured the loss of five of her closest family members, including her daughter and her husband.

Education Pioneer

Lloyd-Jones began her professional career at Northwestern University as assistant director of personnel in 1924 and then moved to Teachers College at Columbia University where she spent the next 38 years (1928-1966) fulfilling multiple roles, including that of professor of education and chairperson of the department of guidance, student personnel administrator, and head of guidance laboratories. She became a leading figure in the field of personnel.

Her philosophy of education changed radically in her early years. She moved away from the dominant efficiency models of education and personnel services to an holistic approach. She became an advocate for personnel workers as educators in an unconventional and new sense which she called "deeper teaching." The focus of personnel work would be on the continual development of students and staff, helping them to learn vital skills for their fulfillment as whole persons in a democratic society. She wanted to create environments where everyone could feel worthy of respect and also to give respect. Following the instrumental philosophy of John Dewey, she argued that personnel workers need to collaborate with faculty and students to create learning experiences whereby they could learn what democratic relationships truly are, the problems involved in developing and maintaining them, and how, when achieved, they release and stimulate personal growth.

Since the purpose of personnel work is to teach human significance and values so as to enable participation in a democratic society, the focus of the work needs to be on facilitation of student-student, student-faculty, and faculty-faculty relationships. As the quality of these relationships increased, students could learn by actual experience. Such learning must be centered in small, natural communities on campus. In small cohesive communities students and staff could work together on accomplishing common objectives and creating common experiences, examining together how their human relationships might be improved and strengthened so as to contribute to total growth for each member. She, thereby, countered the trend to view personnel work as a collection of services from which students would select what they desired—such as vocational counseling, college counseling, and testing.

Interest in Women's Education

In the early 1950s, Lloyd-Lones she set up a Commission on the Education of Women to prioritize what most needed to be done to help young women develop into free, strong, competent women able to fulfill their own lives and to help others. Out of the study came three national conferences and papers that focused attention on the needs of young women. In 1967 Lloyd-Jones became professor of human behavior at U.S. International University in San Diego, California.

Among her services to her profession and to the nation, she was consultant to the U.S. secretary of war in selecting the first group of World War II Women's Army Corps (WAC) officer candidates, consultant to the U.S. Office of Education (1960-1972), and a member of the Defense Advisory Committee of Women in the Services (1954). She was a member of the National Personnel Committee of the Girl Scouts of America and of numerous professional organizations as well as a recipient of equally numerous rewards and honors for her personnel work. Her writings, many of them co-authored, include Redirecting Teacher Education and Student Personnel Work as Deeper Teaching.

Lloyd-Jones died Nov. 21, 1991, in Milbrook, New York, of cancer. She was 90.

Further Reading

Esther Lloyd-Jones is included in Personnel and Guidance Journal (June 1966 and May 1976) and in Contemporary Authors. Some of her best known works include Redirecting Teacher Education (1938), A Student Personnel Program for Higher Education (1938), Coming of Age (1941), and Student Personnel Work for Deeper Teaching (1954).

Additional Sources

"Esther Lloyd-Jones, Retired Professor, 90, " The New York Times, Dec. 4, 1991, p. 24.

Estrin, Herman A. and Esther Lloyd-Jones, How Many Roads? … the 70's, Beverly Hills, CA: Glencoe Press, c1970.

Lloyd-Jones, Esther, Social and Cultural Foundations of Guidance: a Sourcebook, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1968. □