Sir Michael Ernest Sadler (1861 - 1943)

Sadler Sir Michael Ernest

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Sir Michael Ernest Sadler is credited as being one of the most influential comparativists of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. He was born on July 3, 1861 in Barnsely, Yorkshire, England and died in Oxford, England on October 14, 1943. Sadler spent the vast majority of his life on a quest to better understand both domestic and international educational issues. Although primarily based in England, Sadler traveled abroad to such places as Germany, France, and the U.S. Additionally, he spent 18 months living in Calcutta, India as the Chairman of the Calcutta University Commission. 

Sadler wore many hats during his professional career within the field of comparative education. Arguably, the most important of these positions was Sadler's role as the Director for the Office of Special Inquiries and Reports, which he held for eight years. During this time, he produced a series of eleven volumes known as the Special Reports on Educational Subjects. It was within these reports that Sadler reflected upon various educational systems abroad and brought to light the importance of comparative education. 

Sadler dedicated his professional career to the study and understanding of international educational policies. His fieldwork abroad allowed him to better understand the importance of recognizing differences within foreign systems. Sadler displayed this holistic point-of-view during his address at the Guildford Educational Conference on October 20, 1900. The address, entitled, 'How Far Can We Learn Anything of Practical Value from the Study of Foreign Systems Abroad?' shows that comparative education should not only look at policy, but should also encompass a nation's history, culture, political background, etc. Sadler best highlights this point during the address when he said, "In studying foreign systems of education, we should not forget that the things outside the schools matter even more than the things inside the schools, and govern and interpret the things inside. We cannot wander at pleasure among the educational systems of the world, like a child strolling through a garden, and pick off a flower from one bush and some leaves from another, and then expect that if we stick what we have gathered into the soil at home, we shall have a living plant. A national system of education is a living thing..." Sadler's eloquent manner of showing the importance of social and historical context within comparative education was heard by many and has had a lasting effect on the field of study. 

Sadler's contribution within the realm of comparative education has had an undeniable impact. He has been credited with furthering the field while also engaging the international community. Sadler's hard work and dedication to comparative education have provided guidance to current comparativists and will certainly continue to have a direct impact on the field and future generations of comparativists. 

Educational Background

B.A. in Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford, 1882

Professional Background

Secretary, University Extension Lectures Sub-Committee, Oxford, 1885 
Steward, Christ Church, 1886-1891 
Secretary, Delegacy for the Extension of Teaching Beyond the Limits of the University, 1892-1895 
Director, Office of Special Inquiries and Reports, Committee of Education, 1895-1903 
Part-time Professor of History and Administration of Education, Manchester University, 1903-1911 
Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds, 1911-1923 
Chairman, Calcutta University Commission, 1917-1919 
Master, University College, University of Oxford, 1923-1934 

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Oxford Students' Union, President, 1882

Selected Publications

M. Sadler (1897), "Education in England, Wales and Ireland; France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium." Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 1. 

M. Sadler (1898), "Education in England and Wales; Physical Education; The Heuristic Method of Teaching; University Teaching in France," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 2. 

M. Sadler (1898), "National Organisations of Education in Switzerland; Secondary Education in Prussia, Baden and Sweden; Teaching of Modern Languages; Higher Commercial Education in France, Germany and Belgium," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 3.

M. Sadler (1901), "Educational Systems of the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland and the West Indies," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 4. 

M. Sadler (1901), "Education Systems of Cape Colony, Natal, Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Malta," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 5. 

M. Sadler (1900), "Preparatory Schools for Boys: Their Place in English Secondary Education," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 6. 

J. G. Legge & M. Sadler (1902), "Education in Scandinavia, Switzerland, Holland, Hungary, etc.," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 8. 

M. Sadler (1902), "Education in Germany" Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 9. 

M. Sadler (1902), "Education in the U.S.A. Part II," Special Reports on Educational Subjects, Vol. 11. 


Created: 2/17/2010

Updated: 3/7/2010

Contributed By: Jessica Oldford, Loyola University Chicago