Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/History/19th Century

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What are the markers of the 19th Century?

American education in the nineteenth century is often referred to as "The Common School Period". The reason for the name "the common school" is that it was the first time that education went from being exclusively private to be available to the common masses. Schools for the masses did not exist prior to the 1840s. But soon after reformers Horace Mann and Henry Barnard came into the picture and they created the first statewide common schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut. They felt that children needed to have the opportunity to attend school available to all children, so they may create bonds between the diverse population of the people who were there since the United States declared their independence from England and the new influx of immigrants coming into the country. They believed that with the education being available to the masses they will be able to “preserve social stability and prevent crime and poverty.” Both Mann and Barnard “worked to establish a free elementary education accessible to everyone and financed by public funds.” But they also thought that schools should be accountable to the their local school board and state government. And they helped establish mandatory attendance for elementary school-age children. This new reformed education was later imposed on all the states in 1841 (19th-century education).

Early Textbooks[edit]

The earlier textbooks wanted to focus the child on becoming a democratic citizens when they grow up. The earlier textbooks were “…specifically designed to connect children with their environment.” And by being connected to their environment the children are being reinforced to be democratic citizens, by knowing what is going on around them. These textbooks taught the children to be democratic citizens by incorporating local history, politics, documents, speeches, and geographic locations (Schwartz, 2002).

McGuffey Reader[edit]

Then “In 1833, Rev. William Holmes McGuffey was approached by Truman and Smith Publishing and asked to write a school text book for their company to sell” (19th Century Education). However, McGueffy decided to originally write a textbook because he was completely dissatisfied with the current teaching trends. Therefore he took matters into his own hands, and had the neighboring children on his porch and tried to find out how they learned. He discovered that children are capable of reading before they even know how to spell. And that children are more likely to retain the knowledge if they read aloud and have to memorize certain phrases or sentences (Westerhoff, 1978). He published his first reader in 1841, followed in later years four more. In his first reader it contained fifty-five lessons, of which the child is portrayed to be “prompt, good, kind, honest and truthful” just like a model citizen should be. The child also is a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. The reader itself contained stories from the Bible, schoolbooks, and other literary works.

Public High Schools[edit]

Public high schools were developed in the early 1800s for college preparatory classes.

Kalamazoo court case[edit]

At first the extent of public school education was initially restricted to only common schools, but then in 1859 the Michigan Legislature passed a law “that authorized school districts of more than 200 school-age children to elect school boards to govern their districts.” If the districts had 200 plus children that were of school age then they where able to fund high schools. They were able to do this by using the local taxes if the citizens voted for it. Kalamazoo established their first high school in 1858, but this was done prior to the voting (Timmerman, 2005). So in 1875 (Wright ) three predominate members in the community, that opposed this new form of higher education, to take it to court. This is due to their belief that they shouldn’t have their tax dollars wasted on such a petty thing as preparatory work for college. The out come was that the judge liked the idea of higher education of the younger generation, thus the case was dismissed (Timmerman, 2005).

Other colleges[edit]

Under the Morrill Land-Grant Acts federal land was given to the states to open a college. The only requirement was that the college has to teach military tactics, engineering, and agriculture. Each state received 30,000 acres per Congressmen according to the 1860 consensus. Originally the land that was distributed was only for the northern states, due to the current Civil War that was going on at the time. But was later extended to the southern states, too (2007).

After the Civil War[edit]

After the Civil War and the blacks were freed from slavery, white missionaries came down to educate the people of African heritage. They wanted to do enlighten these people with knowledge, because they thought that slavery dehumanized them, thus going to try to teach them as if they are objects. But once the white men arrived in the South they were deeply surprised that they developed their own type of schools. Some of the white men tried to intervene and teach these ex-slaves the correct way to learn, while others simple just stood from a distance, overseeing it. One such man was John W. Alvord, the national superintendent for the Freedman’s Bureau (Anderson, 1988). The Freedman’s Bureau was established on March 3, 1865, and it supervised all relief and educational activities relating to the refugees and the freedmen. Alvord was appointed inspector (later known as general superintendent) of the Bureau. He made a dramatic change to the hierarchy of schools by dividing his work load. In August of 1865 Alvord appointing one superintendent per state, which had to report the actions of the Bureau. During one of the reports a group of African Americans had achieved something that no other race had yet to come close to. That is (in this particular) two black men gathered 150 pupils in one place to teach (Anderson, 1988). The whites called these African American schools native schools.

Tuskegee Normal School (Tuskegee National Institute, Tuskegee University[edit]

He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.

—from the monument of Booker T. Washington, (Brown, 1999)

The second [Morrill Land-Grant Act] permitted the African Americans to have land to put colleges on. Though they didn’t receive as much land as an all white school, they at least received some. The Tuskegee State Normal Institute (Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee University) was founded by Adams, a former slave, and George Campbell, a slave owner (Brown, 1999). These two men wanted to fund an institution where African Americans are able to learn skills that they can making a living, so they may survive. When the school was started Adams and Campbell brought Washington into the school. They brought him into the school because they liked his philosophy on how to teach African Americans. Washington believed that “blacks could gain economic stability, purchase land or homes, and consequently become socially stable,” if they were taught the industrial skills in school. Which made Tuskegee the first African American school to be constructed where the whole curriculum is to learn industrial skills (Brown, 1999).

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

If you were a student at Tuskegee Normal School, in the 1800s, you would be learning?
A. Greek tragedies
B. French
C. Agriculture
D. Law

C. Agriculture

If you were a student in the 19th century, why would you would be attending school?
A. Learn to create bonds between diverse population
B. Learn that you would specialize in
C. Learn how to be good little Protestant people
D. Learn what it means to be patriotic

A. Learn to create bonds between diverse population

Thanks to the reforms in the 19th century we have what today?
A. Mandatory play time
B. Mandatory discipline
C. Mandatory participation
D. Mandatory attendance

D. Mandatory attendance

If you were a student attending a college that was part of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts then what would you be learning?
A. teaching, engineering, and law
B. military tactics, engineering, and agriculture
C. military tactics, teaching, and clergy
D. Law, agriculture, and medicine

B. military tactics, engineering, and agriculture

If you where a white teacher heading south to teach after the Civil War, what would you have found?
A. Blacks that set up their own schools
B. Whites teaching Blacks
C. Blacks not teaching anything
D. Whites having the only schools

A. Blacks that set up their own schools

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal a sample response.

Do you feel that the establishment of high school is truly beneficial to those who attend colleges?

I believe that the establishment of high schools is truly necessary for students to attend before they reach college. I believe this because there is a lot of knowledge that is needed to be learned before they enter the college academia. The establishment of high schools provides the student the correct amount of knowledge, so they are better equipped before entering the prestigious college arena. The establishment also allow the child to mature in age before they are set free to move about and make an impact on the world. Thus by having the student enter college after the completion of high school; they are allowing them to learn new ideas and concepts on what they believe to be right and what needs to be corrected in the world.