Movers and Shakers of American Education
During Colonial rule the Colonial rule, the America education system comprises of only male teachers who had other professions like farming. During this period there were no public schools and the rich people could hire private teachers to educate their kids. Education in this era taught religion, community, and family virtues. Girls were taught how to read and not to write. Public school, especially in the south, came into existence after “the American Civil War.” In the early 18th Century, common schools came into existence which educated students of all ages in a common room by a single teacher. Parents provided housing for the teachers paid tuition or provided other products for their children to continue schooling. Progressive education, which aimed at educating children, came to existence in the late 1800s and since then events have occurred aiming to transform education in America. Therefore, this paper focuses on how unique individuals and events on American history shaped the current American education.
John Dewey (1959 – 1952)
Fig 1. Psychologist John Dewey.
John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose concepts led to social and education reforms. He demonstrated how education could change society. As the founder of the “Progressive Education Movement,” he believed that education should motivate people to achieve greatness and their full capacities as humans (Devendorf, 2016). He argued that students should study by experience so that they will not only gain understanding but in addition obtain skills, attitudes, and habits necessary to enable them to solve life problems. He believes that education was the way through which people will develop motivation skills and ability to think critically. Progressive education movement created a path through which democracy was realized as education protected the society against dictatorship. In Dewey Pedagogic, he argues that school should not only provide an environment through which values of home are incorporated into the student’s interests and everyday life but also add new experiences and interests. He says, “I believe that the only way to make the child conscious of his social heritage is to enable him to perform those fundamental types of activity which make civilization what it is” (Devendorf, 2016).
Marie Montessori (1870 -1952)
Fig 2. Dr. Marie Montessori.
She was the first female surgeon and physician from Italy who also chaired Anthropology in the University of Rome. She also taught a college for women in Rome, developed tactics on teaching children, and trained teachers in four continents. She believed that every kid had the inner genius and it was the duty of education to release this in genius. She said, “Man must be educated to realize his greatness and become worthy of the powers that are his” (Ediger, 2018). She wrote letters to all the government of the world showing the importance of educating children (Ediger, 2018). She regarded children as the forgotten citizens whose education should be prioritized by educators and heads of governments above all other things. She also said that “All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if a man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved” (Ediger, 2018). In 1907, Montessori started her first school and also came up with an education system that was timeless since it reflected the nature of humans. She also came up with an important timetable for child development that is used up to date. The principles behind Montessori education have found application across all ages from early childhood to secondary classes.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Fig 3. Segregation.
In the ‘50s, Topeka, Kansas, schools were divided according to races; white schools and black schools. Linda brown used to walk in a dangerous path to aboard school bus even though there was a closer school for the Whites in their neighborhood. Brown’s family alleged that this segregation was against “the 14th Amendment” and presented the case in court (Rubin, 2016). On May 17, 1954, Justice Earl Warren gave a unanimous rule related to the case “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.” He said that schools segregation was a defilement of “the 14th Amendment” thus unconstitutional (Rubin, 2016). This ruling signalled the end of “separate but equal” period that was established sixty years earlier. It also served as a boost towards the civil rights movement in the decade of 1950 (Rubin, 2016). Even though the ruling was passed, constitutional scholars claimed that the verdict relied on information provided by sociologists than established law.
A Nation at Risk: The Educational Reform, 1983.
This is a report issued by the “National Commission on Excellence in Education”. This report addressed primarily high education. It examined the secondary school curriculum where it established that it did not unify all the subjects. The report found that the education system of America was very poor and was being surpassed by other countries (Vinovskis, 2015). It also found that twenty-three million American adults were functionally illiterate through writing, reading, and comprehension. Compared with students from other nations, American students spent less time on books. To eradicate this problem, the report proposed five basics that should be added to the curriculum. These include the addition of studying “four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, three years of social studies, and half a year of computer science” in all schools in America (Vinovskis, 2015). The report all proposed that teacher education and teaching should be reformed. It also suggested a rise for teachers’ salaries to attract more teachers and maintained qualified teachers.
Through these events and people, education took a huge step in developing the American nation. As Dewey suggested, education is the means through which dangers of dictatorship are eliminated, and democracy embraced. To solve all the problems of humanity, people must be educated; otherwise, the problem will never be solved. Through, the “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas” event, now all Americans go to the school of their choices irrespective of their races. The American education curriculum retained its great position thanks to “A Nation at Risk Report” that advocated change in the curriculum and teaching methods.
Devendorf, S. (2016). John Dewey: A pioneer in educational philosophy. TED502, State University College at Oswego.
Ediger, M. (2018). The Case for History of Education In Teacher Education. Education, 138(4), 353-355.
Rubin, S. G. (2016). Brown v. Board of Education: A fight for simple justice. New York, NY: Holiday House.
Vinovskis, M. (2015). From A Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind: National education goals and the creation of federal education policy. Teachers College Press.