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Education History of the mid 1800s

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Cassandra Elizabeth

on 6 August 2013

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Transcript of Education History of the mid 1800s

The History of American Education during the mid 1800s
Westward Expansion
Made famous by: Ben Noonan, Melanie Groff and Cassandra Pryor
Changes in Schools in the mid 1800s
Charity school enrollment increased
New York Free School Society changed its name to the Public School Society in 1826
Rise in immigration created more diverse public and private schools.

Public vs. Private

Appeared in urban cities during the 1820s and 1830s.
Provided day care for working mothers.
Important due to the “discovery” of childhood

Infant schools

At this point in time, there weren’t any public or private schools.
Schools were separated by district
- Housing segregation?
Seen as center of community life.
“It sought to socialize children to a changeless community in which ties were tight, in which opportunity was fairly circumscribed, in which power relationships were clearly drawn.”

District schools

It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that childhood was viewed as a separate psychological stage of human life.

Upon study, it was clear that the childhood stage of life came with its own problems and needs.

View of the Child

Transitioning from the early 1800s where people thought that God had created two schools:
- Family
- Church
Schools in the mid 1800s assumed the responsibilities of both of these schools

Purpose of schools
Provided schooling for male and female children of poor and working-class parents in urban areas.
New York City’s Free School Society

Charity schools

Three goals:
Provide free elementary education
Create a trained educational profession
Establish some form of state control over local schools
- Thaddeus Stevens
- Horace Mann

The Common Schools

The Education of the Marginalized
As common schools increased so did the call for competent teachers
Creating of normal schools to train teachers
1st to open: Lexington, Massachusetts in 1839
Coursework & training for teachers
Still not every teacher attended these schools
Based on moral character, ability to run class setting & academic accomplishments
Lack of standardizations with oral examinations & evaluations left certifications inconsistent
Later moved from local to county to state levels & became standardized

Introduction to Teacher Training & Certification


Schoolmarms, no male principals, rural settings
Shanty building, cold & drafty
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
Penmanship, grammar & ciphering
Examinations at end of year
Grading & report cards
Chalkboards & slates
Memorizations, drills, repetition
“school keeping” not “school teaching”
Corporal punishments
Whipping posts, rods, straps, slaps & smacks
One Room School House


Young, unmarried adolescent women
No families of their own, more education
Catherine Beecher
Pushed for women teachers
Women’s purity shaped her for mentoring young students
Improved female education
Increased #of female teachers
but still mainly male administrators
Lower pay than male teachers

Female Teachers


Roberts v Boston
Tried to end racial discrimination in schools in Boston
1st court case of this kind
Court ruled in favor of Boston schools

Beginning of
“Separate but equal”


Segregated schools
Poor conditions, overcrowded, inadequate teachers
Low expectations of students
Belief in “limited intellectual ability”

Northern black education


Plantations & Slavery
Education Goals of Slave Owners: Work Skills & Social Control
Use of isolation, ignorance, removing individual identities & eradicating African cultures, heritage & traditions
Christianity used to rationalize slavery
Education Goals of Slave Families: Child rearing & Survival Skills

Southern black education


The Eclectic Readers by William Holmes McGuffey
Sold over 120 million copies (1836-1920)
Different readers for different reading levels
Allowed grouping of students by ability
Became widely used and relied upon for methodologies

Relations between the emigrants and Native Americans was generally positive, and much trading and sharing of cultures occurred.
Eventually, Native Americans became overwhelmed with the volume of arriving white settlers, and skirmishes occurred.
The United States military during this time continued the brutal “Indian Wars” which sought to eradicate the natives from the western territories.
Beginning in the 1850s, Native American nations began legally agreeing to live within designated boundaries: the precursors of the reservation system.

Native American Interaction

Between 1840 and 1870, over 300,000 people moved to western states.
Settlers were “neither very rich nor very poor,” and generally middle class protestants searching for prosperity.
The journeys west were often grueling affairs. Much death and disease greeted emigrants, and many children were orphaned in the process.
Family sizes were kept small. They were not able to feed children who did not contribute.
Women relied on contraceptives and abortion to avoid procreation.

The American Emigrants

Native Americans were not included in state education programs until the reservation system was codified in 1871, and struggled to assimilate independently of educational intervention.
Natives and African Americans were ostracized because they would not culturally or linguistically assimilate.
At the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, over 75,000 Mexican lived within the new American borders.
Mexicans deemed “European looking” were welcomed into society and educated, whereas darker Mexicans were viewed on the same level as Native and African Americans.
These Mexicans generally disregarded the U.S. government, however, and remained isolated in their own communities.

Native and Mexican American

Few male teachers were available to take charge of schools, due to geography.
Women became the masters and teachers in the west, often without formal training and sometimes as young as age thirteen.
Female teachers rarely married or had families, and viewed teaching children the ways of Evangelical Protestantism as “doing God’s work” and following a divine plan.
Women were not allowed to serve on school boards but usually served as de facto school administrators and were well respected by students.
A Lack of Suitable Teachers

These pioneers gained near-mythical status and inspired many stories and folklore regarding their toughness and determination.
Their stories were often used in propaganda to champion the wonders of capitalism and entrepreneurialism.
They lived by the principles of “Manifest Destiny,” a theory espoused by early Americans stating America’s God-given claim to the entire North American continent.
Families often lived by Protestant principles and emphasized good work ethic above all other characteristics.
Life was so taxing that each member learned to do intense work from a very young age.

Pioneer Spirit and Manifest Destiny

The first buildings created in western settlements were churches, schools, and rudimentary public libraries.
Education was held in high regard and children were taught basic literacy from a young age. Literacy rates in 1850 were significantly higher in western states than the east.
Many families owned large personal libraries complete with classic and contemporary works of literature and philosophy.
Spelling bees and public lectures were popular forms of community entertainment in frontier settlements.
Many teachers remarked positively on the enthusiasm and commitment of students and their parents.

A Commitment to Education


Education on America’s Frontier: 1830s-1860s

The Western Expansion


“Woman’s great mission is to train immature, weak, and ignorant creatures to obey the laws of God; the physical, the intellectual, the social, and the moral.” –Catharine Beecher

To combat the lack of formal teacher education in the west, Catharine Beecher created the “National Popular Education Board.”
It was tasked with creating schools to produce female teachers to send westward to educate children.
The first class of teachers graduated six hundred female teachers in 1858 and sent them to teach in frontier towns and settlements.
“Oswego Normal Training School” -1861
Formal Training

“..drill, repetition, and memorization…”


Initially, schools were hastily set up in the homes of married women to occupy children during winter when no agricultural work could be done.
Communities often took charge in constructing schools, or appealed to the state for aid in doing so.
More permanent school buildings were often rudimentary one-room schoolhouses dug into the ground, with dirt floors and no modern amenities.
Students learned: religious morality, basic literacy, and proper work ethic, as well as biblical memorization and transcription.
Corporal punishment was widespread and unregulated.

Schools in the West

-Frederick Douglass
- Born slave
-Sent to Baltimore
Became educated
role model for Blacks
Full transcript