Common School Era 1820s
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1. Development of the Common School in the United States
2. Common School Era 1820s – 1880s
Irish, most were poor, undereducated, unskilled, and Catholic
1830-40 – ½ million entered U.S.
Women and children, immigrants, horrible conditions
Shift to wage labor
Growing gap between rich and poor
By 1828, 4 in 7 white males could vote -- many saw them as unready to vote, education must inform “ignorant” electorate
Mixture of Classic Liberalism and Romantic Nationalism
Growth of scientific thought – rationalism
More optimistic view of people (people continue to support various orgs. and societies)
Greater willingness for government power
Moving from “negative” to “positive” freedom
Jefferson and many classic liberals die – influence of people with ideas similar to Webster grows.
Many educational leaders agree that the U.S. needs publicly-funded “common” schools.
Early educational administrators were the champions of the idea.
In the Northeast, there was an administrative structure before there was a system of schools.
6. Horace Mann (1796-1859)
Follower of Webster’s ideas
Born in 1796 to harsh Calvinist background in MA
Turned away after brother’s death
Follower of phrenology
Lawyer and state legislator 1827-1833 where he helped establish the MA state board of education
Secretary of MA State Board of Education 1837-1848
Wrote Annual Reports (12th in 1848 most important) and the MA Common School Journal
7. Used different rationale for different groups
Education would create industrious men and women who would obey the law, be diligent in their work, and add to the economy.
A good investment – “human capital” intelligence creates wealth
Stewardship argument – it was their responsibility to help those less-fortunate
Workers and Farmers
“Great social equalizer”
8. Mann’s own views Feared illiteracy / lack of education would lead to mob action
Argued that literacy was necessary for citizens to participate intelligently in representative political processes (Jefferson)
Would create a unique, common national American identity and purpose – public schools were Assimilationist from the beginning (Webster)
Schools should teach neutral politics and pan-Protestantism
9. Common School Opponents
10. What argument won the day? Fear
Fear of cultural / ethnic contamination of adopted American WASP culture
Fear of “unguided” working masses.
Examples of rhetoric:
Calvin Stowe, professor, 1808-1886
Dr. Daniel Drake, 1785-1852
11. Common School Movement Schools established in three legislative stages:
Attending some part of elementary school became norm.
Increased attendance led to graded divisions.
Elementary teaching became a career for women – in 1900 71% of rural teachers were women
12. McGuffey Readers
More than 120 million copies sold between 1836-1920
First graded readers, paved way for totally graded system
Emphasized individual virtue, goodness, patriotism, heroism, and WASP identity
Virtues needed in new impersonal workplace
Hard work rewarded
Being good is rewarded (both intrinsically and materially)
13. McGuffey Reader excerpt: