Mae Carden (1894-1977) was one of the brilliant educators of the twentieth century. She was born in Hawaii she began her own elementary school education. It was during these early years that she found her teachers did not explain the lessons completely to their students. So, young Mae Carden would take her classmates home after school and teach them herself. Her amazing organizational talents surfaced at this young age when she began categorizing words, which eventually led to her own pitch based phonemic program.
Mae Carden graduated from Vassar College in 1918 and continued her studies in Europe focusing on art and music. Inspired by the art masters and great composers of Europe, Miss Carden returned to the United States set on becoming a music teacher and attended Columbia University for her post graduate work. It was there that she became acquainted with John Dewey, the father of progressive education and the “sight-recognition” or “look-say” method of teaching reading. Disagreeing with Dewey’s theories, she resigned from the doctoral program saying, “Suddenly, it seemed to me to be without validity.” She went on to write her own textbooks and manuals and in 1934 opened her own school, which she operated successfully for fifteen years.
In the course of her career, Miss Carden wrote over 400 textbooks and manuals. Because of the many requests for her method from both public and private schools, Miss Carden closed her school in 1949 to devote the rest of her life training teachers in the techniques and methodology of her unique curriculum. Today there are over 90 Carden schools across the U.S.
In order that the integrity of the Carden Curriculum be preserved, the Carden Educational Foundation was established in 1962. It provides basic and advanced training for teachers and has established an ongoing development program in keeping with current advancements in education.