Chapter Six American Educational History
American Educational History • The Reformation of the 1500s and 1600s linked European and American education • This struggle within the Christian Church led to the settlement of the Puritan colony of Massachusetts Bay and the American educational revolution that followed.
American Colonial Education • The Puritans developed universal primary education in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with the Old Deluder Law of 1647. • This model of public education spread west as New Englanders migrated to New York and the upper Midwest in the 1700s.
Education in the Middle Colonies • These schools reflected the rich ethnic and religious diversity of this region. • Schools of the Dutch Reformed church, German Lutherans, Quakers, Roman Catholics, and the Mennonites, etc. each centered on religious and moral education.
Education in the Colonial South West • Jesuit education flourished in areas extending from present day Santa Fe, New Mexico through San Diego and Los Angeles, California. • Jesuit priests established hundreds of primary and secondary Catholic schools. • This tradition continues to the present day.
Education in the Southern Colonies • In these communities, private schools and in-home tutoring for wealthy planter children was the norm. • Beyond apprenticeship and minimal reading education in charity schools, there were few educational opportunities for poor children. • For African Americans, free or enslaved, formal education was extremely rare.
The Common School: Origins • Following the Revolution, Americans understood that children needed a common set of cultural and social experiences in order to appreciate the concepts of nationhood and civic responsibility. • The common school movement took root and began to grow in the first half of the 1800s.
Common School: Curriculum • When the McGuffey Reader became available in the late 1830s, lessons on patriotism and civic virtue became the mainstay of reading instruction. • The common school also created a curriculum that prepared young Americans for the new market economy. • Competition and examinations became commonplace during this period.
Common School: Religious and Cultural Conflict • As new immigrants came to America during the 1800s, the Protestant oriented common school curriculum became a growing source of conflict. • Many Roman Catholics, opposed these Protestant prayers and values in the primary school curriculum. • English-only instruction branded immigrant children as deficient and even ignorant because they had difficulty speaking English. • This problem continues with many immigrant children today.
African Americans and Education: Before the Civil War • Prior to the Civil War, race had a lasting impact on public education. • In the South, slave children had few educational opportunities other than Charity or Sunday schools. • In the North, schools for black children existed but were limited. • African Americans played the greatest role in the primary education of their children.
African Americans and Education: Freedmen’s Bureau schools • When slavery officially ended in 1865, a new era of educational reform swept the South with the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau Schools. • These schools fostered what Booker T. Washington called “a veritable fever” for education. • Thousands of idealistic, young men and women from the north came south to teach in Freedmen’s Bureau schools – their impact was dramatic.
African Americans and Education:Plessy v Ferguson • The Freedmen’s Bureau Schools were opposed and resented by many white southerners. • Southern states typically adopted a system of segregated schools with limited opportunities for African Americans. • The infamous Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson (1896) gave segregated educational facilities the false legitimacy of the federal government. • As a result, African Americans created their own schools and promoted both primary and secondary education. • This tradition of self-help was essential for the survival of African American education.
European Educational Reformers • Meanwhile, an educational reform movement spread throughout Europe. • The most important European educational reformers were John Locke, Jean Jacque Rousseau and Johann Pestalozzi. • Locke felt the most effective method of instruction was to provide praise for good behavior and achievement. He also rejected corporal punishment. • Rousseau argued that children had innate intelligence, and therefore education should be based on the child’s experiences and their need to know and understand. • Pestalozzi maintained that education should focus on the “objects” and activities of the real world presented to children with love and nurture.
American Educational Reformers • American educators transformed the schools of late 1800s and the early 1900s. • Among the most important of these reformers: • Johann Herbart • William Heard Kilpatrick • Edward Thorndike • B.F. Skinner • John Dewey. • Each of these powerful figures contributed to this revolution in teaching.
Herbart and the Lesson Plan • Johann Herbart (1776-1841) was a psychologist who introduced the idea of the structured lesson plan – a template that outlined the five steps of instruction: 1) preparation 2) presentation 3) association 4) generalization 5) application
Kilpatrick’s Project Method • William Heard Kilpatrick was a progressive educator who wrote during the late 1910s and early 1920s. • His project method involved student learning by means of a “socially purposeful act.” • By involving students in projects like putting out a newspaper from start to finish, teachers could direct student learning to socially useful ends and strengthen their connection to the larger society.
Thorndike: Father of Evaluation • Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) recommended that all instruction be based on the scientific method and evaluated by scientific instruments. • Rigorous educational testing would help teachers choose the most effective instructional methods and direct students to their “most useful role” in society.
Skinner and Behaviorism • B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) popularized educational psychology by broadening its appeal. • He focused on the effect of rewards in the learning process, which became the basis of “programmed learning.”
Dewey: Father of Progressive Education • John Dewey (1859-1952) made enormous contributions to education with his “laboratory school” and concepts of “learning by doing”. • His emphasis on innovative, socially responsible group instruction, linked to rigorous scientific evaluation, was the basis of the progressive education. • Many of these progressive forms of instruction provided the basis of curricular innovations such as: • inquiry based instruction • individual contracting • preschool education • multi-age grouping • differential staffing • flexible scheduling • team teaching
Various Progressive Education Plans • University of Chicago Laboratory School (1896-1904) was managed by Alice Dewey, wife of John Dewey. Students were actively engaged in projects and worked in groups. The Lab School of Chicago is still in existence today and continues to be innovative. • The Gary Plan (1908-1915, Gary, Indiana) This plan attempted to reorganize the school building more efficiently. The school building was divided into spaces allocated for specific use – such as classrooms, playground, shops, laboratories, etc. • The Dalton Plan (1919, Dalton, Massachusetts) divided the curriculum into units that were contracted by students for a specified period of time. • The Winnetka Plan (1919, Winnetka, Illinois) separated the curriculum into subjects and used the Dalton technique. It also employed the use of cooperative social activities as advocated by John Dewey.
The Basal Reader • The basal readers represented a revolution in reading instruction. • Incorporated Pestalozzi’s and Herbart’s ideas of distinctive developmental levels through the use of a controlled vocabulary. • Used Pestalozzi’s concept of “objects” in the form of vivid illustrations. • Incorporated Kilpatrick’s idea of drawing on the interests and experiences of students. • Borrowed Herbart’s idea of the lesson plan and his concept of sequencing reading materials. • Utilized Thorndike’s concept of measuring the progress of student comprehension.
Innovations in the 1960s and Beyond • The Humanistic Curriculumstresses personal student growth, self-discovery, as well as moral and esthetic development. • The Open Classroom promotes individualized instruction where students determine the nature and sequence of the curriculum. • Whole Language integrates language arts skills with a special emphasis on literature and rejects the use of phonics as the primary method of reading instruction. • Magnet Schools are specialized public schools open to students on a competitive or lottery basis and generally, have a specific educational focus, such as the Arts or Science.
Educational Backlash • During the 1980s, conservatives rejected many innovative, progressive-based educational programs. • Some claimed that these programs lacked rigor and academic credibility. • Others argued that the solution to our “educational crisis” was greater student accountability through “competency based” instructional programs. • Still others rejected the basal reader and instructional methods - such as whole language - and demanded, and in some cases legislated, phonics as the primary method of reading instruction.
A Nation at Risk? • The educational backlash reached a crescendo with the publication of A Nation at Risk (1983). • The language of this report alarmed many Americans. • Many conservative political leaders called for “privatization” of public education, vouchers, and high stakes testing. • The NCLB (No Child Left Behind) reflected many of these concerns and later became national law.
The New Progressivism • In recent years, many of these conservative plans have been challenged by progressive educational researchers. • They argue that vouchers and school choice are ineffective. • They note that End of Grade (EOG) Tests have misdirected the curriculum. • They call for a reassessment of education based on educational research and not politics.