A Presbyterian minister’s son,
The Rev. Dr. MacLeod was sent
to “prep” for college at the Darlington School, Rome,
Georgia, then received his B.A. degree from a center of
Southern history, Washington and Lee University. A history
major, the author was a student under the historian
Arnold J. Toynbee, then a visiting professor at Washington
MacLeod was also taught by the social historian,
James G. Leyburn, author of The Scotch-Irish: A Social History and Dean at
Washington and Lee.
In graduate work MacLeod received a Master of Arts in Teaching at Emory University, Atlanta, an Educational Specialist’s Degree in School Administration, and his Doctorate in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University. His doctoral dissertation researched early American education in Charleston, South Carolina. MacLeod studied on a postgraduate basis at schools in France and Germany. Interested in theology, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey, and the Candler School of Theology, Emory University where he received another Master’s degree in theology and religion.
MacLeod’s practical experience in education includes college teaching, school administration and three times a “Star” teacher in Georgia secondary schools. He is certified in teaching “gifted” students. In 1980 the author was chosen by the U.S. “Fulbright” Board to study at Jadavapur University in Calcutta, India. He was chosen in 1984 by the “Fulbright” Teacher Exchange to teach in Great Britain.
The author’s practical experience, awareness of educational methods, research in early American education, familiarity with the social history of the Scotch-Irish, and his theological and religious learning have made him uniquely skilled to assess the great, perhaps, greatest educator, the South has ever known, Moses Waddel.
MacLeod’s style of writing is intentionally lucid, a circumstance not always found in works of historical and particularly educational scholarship. The author attributes much of this absence of buzz words and scholarly jargon, commonly known as “educationese,” to his early training in writing by a literary friend, Georgia author, Flannery O’Connor. Her emphases were for him studiously to avoid jargon as well that tiresome piety that too often has marred studies of prominent Southern historical personages of this era. MacLeod recalls her saying, “you don’t have to write like Henry James to be complex,” and her sly observation, “A Ph.D. affects some scholars like religion affects other folks. They think they’ve got to speak in the unknown tongue to prove they’ve really got it.”
Dr. MacLeod observes, “If I wrote in the scholarly educational jargon about Waddel’s school, I would have to write: ‘The emphasis in this educational unit was time on task. The result was successful engaged learning.’ Well, of course, that's nonsense. Translated into English it means Waddel’s school meant hard work and the students learned a lot. (In educational scholarly jargon a school is called an educational unit, getting students to work is time on task, and successful engaged learning means somebody learned something.)
Dr. MacLeod was one of Flannery O’Connor’s pallbearers. He comments, ‘From her I learned a scholarly book is never to read like a government pamphlet. That’s too easy a way out. The difficulty seems to be that while a scholar may do good research, he or she may often be too insecure, untrained, or even academically frightened to say it in lucid English, something people can understand. A reformation is needed in writing English, not only in the schools, but in the professional educational circles that run them. This book is a trail blazer and something of a pioneer in that aspect.
MacLeod is descended from a family who sent their Sons to Waddel, the Griers, a prominent pioneer Scotch-Irish family that produced the Rev. Isaac Grier, first Presbyterian minister born in Georgia, a U.S. Supreme Court Judge, several college presidents, Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, and Robert Grier, founder of Grier’s ‘Almanac,’ referred to as a Bible for the Southern ante-bellum farmer. It was the death of Robert Grier, the Almanacer” that inspired his nephew, Alexander Stephens, to introduce as a U.S. Congressman the bill that founded the National Weather Bureau. Both the Rev. Isaac Grier and Alexander Stephens went to school to Waddel.
In December 1984 MacLeod was elected a Fellow of the
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.