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History of American Education

A look at many early schools and the pioneers that shaped American education into what it is today.
by

Ben Hammond

on 11 January 2013

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Transcript of History of American Education

History of American Education The Colonial Period: 1642-1776
In the beginning... All information was gathered from the following:
Ornstein, A., Hunkins, F. (2013) Curriculum Development. pp.1-32 American schools began in Massachusetts with the Puritan church. Primary purpose was to teach scriptures. Priorities were reading, writing, and spelling. There were three regions in Colonial America with some educational differences.
New England: Emphasized common language and religion and made laws requiring towns to hire teachers.
Middle Colonies: There was no single system of schools established. Ethnic and religious groups formed their own schools.
South: Education was left up to families. Laws were made to ensure education of underprivileged children. In this period of American history, free public education began. This age marked a decline in religion-dominated classrooms as a result of several secular increases, including the advance of democracy, a strong federal government, new cultural nationalism, and new ideas in natural sciences.
This period is marked by its theorists rather than its schools. National Period: 1776 – 1850 As the United States grew toward the west, Americans had renewed confidence in the common man. Equality was a popular concept as was a focus on the individual.

Jefferson and Rush had previously presented ideas that the entire population must be educated in order to maintain democracy and provide for the country's economic growth. These ideas would now come to fruition. Universal Education: 1820 - 1900 Transitional Period: 1893 - 1918 Town Schools Popular in New England, this was commonly a one-room school. Wide range: from 5-14. Recitation was common. Attendance was irregular. Parochial schools These were common in the middle colonies and were established by missionary and ethnic groups for their own children to attend. Students reading in a colonial school. Private Schools Private schools were popular in middle colonies and the south. These were attended by upper class children to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. Latin Grammar Schools These schools were attended by upper class boys planning to enter one of the professions of medicine, law, teaching, and ministry. About 75% of the curriculum was Latin. Academies Est. 1751 and based on Benjamin Franklin’s ideas.
Curriculum was practical and aimed toward those not planning to attend college.
History was emphasized rather than religion.
Taught skills such as carpentry, engraving, printing, painting, cabinet making, farming, and bookkeeping. Colleges Colleges were highly religious institutions. For entry, students would demonstrate competency in Latin, Greek, and the classics.
Harvard and Yale were the main universities of the day. Harvard University 1636 Yale University Textbooks Westminster Catechism: A series of doctrinal statements used for study, reading, and memorization.
Bible: Used by nearly all schools of the period as a textbook for learning to read as well as to learn the principles taught within it.
New England Primer: A replacement for the English primer. Remained the most popular textbook for over 100 years. Filled with religious and moral doctrines.
New Guide to English Tongue: Another religious textbook, this time integrated with grammar and spelling. Dr. Benjamin Rush Thomas Jefferson Noah Webster William H. McGuffey Johann H. Pestalozzi Friedrich Froebel Johann Herbart Herbert Spencer Believed that education should develop democracy and natural resources. He emphasized many of the subjects studied today as well as good manners and moral principles. Our 3rd president attempted to see that every citizen had a good education, not just the upper class. He was a proponent of a universal education. Webster was a pioneer in what became known as American English. His greatest known work is The American Dictionary. This, along with other language-related publications helped establish a sense of cultural identity and nationalism. McGuffey's Readers are his most well-known work. Through these, he not only gave students material to learn reading, but introduced a grade level system in his leveled readers. He stressed that although the U.S. had not contributed to literary or cultural ideas, it had made leaps in the moral and political realm. A Swiss educator, Pestalozzi was an early founder in elementary education. He disregarded rote learning and insisted that learning occurred through the senses. He worked toward connecting education to children's home experiences. Froebel, a German educator, was the originator of kindergarten. He said that learning of very young children should be focused around play. His curriculum was based on love, trust, and freedom. This German philosopher's concept of education was moral development. He developed the idea of curriculum correlation. Many of his ideas were used in the training of teachers and used by classroom teachers. 5 steps defined by Herbart:
1. Preparation
2. Presentation
3. Association
4. Systemization
5. Application Spencer, an English social scientist, based many of his principles on Darwin's biological evolution theory. A critic of religious doctrine and classical subject matter, he pushed for a scientific and practical education to fit the industrial society. Monitorial Schools Created by Joseph Lancaster, these schools implemented the use of high-achieving students as "monitors". These students were taught by the teacher and were to give that knowledge to other students as well as supervise practice and rote learning of subject matter. Beginning in the 1820s, this idea was losing steam by 1850. Common Schools Established in 1826 in Massachusetts, the common school typified the historic one-room schoolhouse. Teachers had students of all ages and taught all subjects, while receiving a very small salary. Local control and
government support
of schools started
with these schools. Elementary Schools Many additions to the elementary curriculum marks the history of these schools. Since the early 1800s to present day, elementary schools have been the well of foundational learning and good conduct. Secondary Schools These schools have historically been places that prepare their students for college. As education became universal, secondary schools took on the role of providing for every student's preparedness after graduation. Academies With high schools only populated with 15% of all students, and most children ending their formal education at the end of elementary school, many questions were being asked about what to do next in education.

One of the biggest questions involved whether to offer one curriculum to students planning on attending high school and another to those stopping at elementary school. The answers were found in committees, theorists, and studies; all had a part in shaping American education. High Schools These schools replaced Latin Grammar schools in popularity and practicality in the early 1800s. Curriculum was focused on college admission guidelines.
In the 1870s, academies were being replaced by high schools. However, some private military and elite academies are still in operation. The first high school was founded in 1821 in Boston, but the school did not gain popularity until the 1870s. High schools eliminate social class barriers that had existed before. These schools became the first to allow students to choose the curriculum they would learn. As early as 1900, high schools offered vocational, industrial, commercial, and clerical courses. Committee of 10 Committee of 15 Committee on College Entrance Requirements Harris and Eliot Vocational Education Flexner Dewey Judd Commission on Reorganization of Secondary Education Bobbitt and Charters Kilpatrick 26th Yearbook Rugg and Caswell Eight Year Study Tyler Goodlad The History of American Education The tour begins here. This committee, influenced by Harvard president Charles Eliot and U.S. Commissioner of Education William Harris, recommended that schools retain traditional curriculum. Elementary schools were to change from 10 grades to 8.
New subjects were not accepted, nor kindergarten, children's needs and interests, interdisciplinary subjects, and other ideas of the time.
It was this committee that created the subject matter grouping that remains in existence today. Of these three committees, this was the most influential. Charles Eliot was now the chair of the committee that identified 9 subjects vital to the high school curriculum. 1. Latin, 2. Greek, 3. English, 4. other modern languages, 5. mathematics, 6. physical sciences, 7. natural history of biological sciences, 8. social sciences, 9. geography, geology, and meteorology. They did this while leaving out art, music, physical education, and vocational education.

This college-preparing curriculum dominated in a time when few students went to college. This caused students to be ignored if they were not college bound. The standard for academic curricula being higher than all others is still a prominent idea.
When this committee convened in 1895 the academic, college preparatory courses that were first outlined by the Committee of Ten were reaffirmed as more needful than other courses of study.
Recommendations were made for the number of credits in a given subject matter needed to enter college.
Charles Eliot was on this committee as well as several presidents from other universities. A method for evaluating credits for college admissions, the Carnegie Unit, was recommended. Most of today's high schools still use this. William Harris, a commissioner of education for Missouri, and then for the U.S., strongly argued that education should lengthen democracy. He believed that society shaped schools, rather than the opposite. He also believed in a traditional curriculum where students learned with their minds. He did not see much value in vocational education.
Charles Eliot, Harvard's 21st president, also believed in a traditional curriculum. Problem solving and comprehension were important elements of his curriculum. He called for goals and standards to be created for each grade level. A report in 1910 by NEA discussed the need for some hands-on training for high school students. A few years later, the U.S. government stated that it would match any money that a state spent toward this type of education in order to create skillful workers in agriculture, home economics, and the trades. Although popularity was immense, the programs have not changed much and could use some updating to be competitive in a technology-driven world. Abraham Flexner, a former teacher of the classics, along with Charles Eliot began to see the pointlessness of such a high focus on Latin and a traditional curriculum. Flexner argued for a modern curriculum based in science, industry, civics, and aesthetics. His view of education was a utilitarian one, pushing for a change in curriculum that involved useful courses and the exclusion of many other that had no modern application. John Dewey believed that democracy and education had strong ties and that education should be made to enhance democracy. He held that subjects should not be given an order of importance because the study of any subject can lead to cognitive expansion. Science was one of Dewey's top priorities and he emphasized rational thinking. Educational theorist, Charles Judd found success in a systematic method of study. He worked with Dewey and shared many of the same ideas about a science-based curriculum. For secondary schools, Judd called for a vocational or technically oriented subjects and was another proponent of practical education. This commission, organized by the NEA, was greatly influenced by Herbert, Flexner, and Dewey's ideas in progressive education. The focus was renewed with emphasis on educating the whole child rather than just cognitive development, education for all students, and common culture, ideas, and principles. Usefulness in education was overtaking the idea of cognitive discipline. These two educational psychology theorists, Franklin Bobbitt and W. W. Charters, were forerunners in the idea that curriculum should be shaped by scientific principles. Prior to this idea, curriculum was described after it was put into place rather than being researched to decide what needed to be in it. They were proponents of behavioral objectives and saw a need for evaluation of materials, including the curriculum itself. Theories developed by Kilpatrick were a mix of Dewey, Judd, and behaviorism. His methods were sectioned into four steps: purposing, planning, executing, and judging. This brought about the self-reflection that is credited with large amounts of student learning. Most principles were implemented in elementary schools where Kilpatrick believed that students should have input in the curriculum which they learned. His claimed purpose for education was for children to develop socially rather than master content. Two volumes on curriculum development were created by a committee based at the University of Chicago in 1930. On the committee were several of the time's leading curricula theorists. In the first volume, the committee smashed the idea of rote learning, drill, and mental discipline commonly found in traditional education. The second volume outlined several purposes for curriculum creation, which were mainly ideas promoting social development, constructive problem solving, and critical thinking. This yearbook stated many of the problems curriculum writers were facing and influenced many school districts in this way. Harold Rugg, the chair of the committee that produced the 26th yearbook, challenged the idea of student input in curriculum. He believed that in order to retain logic and direction, it should be done by curriculum specialists in cooperation with other educational professionals. His ideas about integrating contents and forming what is now social studies, brought criticism from other theorists of the day and may have helped in getting his own FBI file. Hollis Caswell attempted to shift the purpose of curriculum from course creation to improving instruction. His most remembered ideas are the scope and sequence of the subject matter. He believed that content should be presented in reasonable amounts related to what was being learned, in a logical order for learning, and contain the things necessary for positive student learning. In this model, knowledge should be measurable. The committee conducting this study attempted to show school districts that a new progressive type of education where the learner's needs were the focus, rather than the taught content, would produce equal, if not better results, than traditional education. Many ideas on curriculum making never made it down to the schools because of teachers' lack of connection in the curriculum creation process. Many teachers shunned the idea of outside interference and most decisions about curriculum were made in a district's central office. This top-down approach became typical of education. Ralph Tyler's best known book, Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, is a helpful guide in educational goals, experiences to get to the goals, organization for these experiences, and the determination of goal accomplishment. His book shows how any school can use its resources to mold curriculum and instruction in the direction needed for that district. In agreement with Dewey, John Goodlad believes that the starting point for curriculum is philosophy. He believes that teachers should collaborate in creating and testing new ideas in teaching to see what works best for them. His early studies found that schools were dominated by teacher-centered instruction and that student-centered learning was not a dominating force. He rejects the idea that test scores are the focal point in most of today's schools. THE END
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