Mae Carden (1894-1977) was one of the brilliant educators of the twentieth century. She was born in Hawaii. During her early years in elementary school she found that her teachers did not explain the lessons completely to their students. As a young girl 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. This process eventually led to her 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 to continue her studies in music at Columbia University for her post-graduate work. At Columbia she became acquainted with John Dewey, the father of progressive education and the “sight-recognition” or “look-say” method to teach reading. Disagreeing with Dewey’s theories, she resigned from the doctoral program saying, “Suddenly, it seemed to me to be without validity.” She then dedicated her time to writing textbooks and manuals for her own curriculum. She opened the first Carden School in New York City in 1934.
In the course of her career, Miss Carden wrote over 400 textbooks and manuals. After repeated requests for training in The Carden Method from public and private schools, Miss Carden closed her school in 1949 and devoted the rest of her life to training teachers in the techniques and methods of her unique curriculum. Today there are over 90 Carden schools across the United States.
In order that the integrity of the Carden Curriculum continue to 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.