Education in the 1800s

Education had an emphasis on many different aspects during the time prior to the Civil War. There was a certain irony that set the mode of this time making things that were said irrelevant to the actions that were taken. The paradoxes of education in Pre civil war America, are evidenced in subject matter, gender, class and race, as well as purpose. American education developed from European intellectual traditions and institutions transplanted to the new world and modified by contact among different colonial groups and between new settlers and indigenous peoples.

The English majority had the most influence on education. In New England, also including the 13 colonies, the English language, laws, and customs had become the complete basis in colonial educational practice. (Cremin313). Education for Americans had been a problem ever since its beginning. Many people agreed with James Madison that All people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. Many people felt that school was good and necessary, but were concerned about the cost. (Wright, Fowler 187).

English Protestantism became the leading aspect for colonial education aspirations. Piety combined with devotion to vocation became the aim of education for the individual, and social perfectionism combined with an aggressive evangelism became the aim of education for the community. (Cremin 313-314). The necessity of being able to read the bible was one of the great motivations for schooling among protestant people. The key to salvation, Protestants believed, was to be found in the individuals reading of the scriptures, and in order to do this, everyone had to have enough knowledge to read the bible. Wright 133-134) Family, above all, was the most important institution in both socialization and education. Families of the new world had a great organization in relationships in education and scriptural readings. Fathers were responsible for educating their sons or daughters and even apprentices or indentured servants living in their homes. With the help of their wives and other relatives of the family, fathers were able to teach their children how to read, or perform other practices that would help them in their everyday lives.

They also wanted to install a sense of duty, morality, example, and discipline. (Cremin 314). Well to do families hired tutors for their children and sometimes shared their services with neighbors. Less fortunate people living in the back woods regions might have to do without schooling or get what they could from itinerant school masters and circuit- riding persons. (Wright 135) During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the family was much more than a sense of background, love and support. The family participated in many functions.

Families were factories, farms helping to grow food, schools teaching their relatives about education, religious centers reading the bible and going to church, hospital, jails and almshouses. Since family shared an enormous part in education, education was mainly associated with most economic and social activities. (Cremin 314) The first formal schools existed in the 1630s. By 1635 The Boston Latin schools was established. The Boston Latin School was considered the first town supported school with a continuous history. (Cremin 314).

The Boston Latin School is one of the most famous to this day. Citizens of Boston hired a schoolmaster to teach Latin in the school. (Wright 140) The school intended to advance literacy so that all could possess Knowledge of the scriptures. (Cremin 314). Although schools during the 19th century seemed to show a separation between religion and secularism, there were Pro-Christianity communities that taught an immense amount of religion. Church should have been just a place where families would gather together when they pleased.

A place where people can pray on their own time, and feel a sense of separation between what went on in their everyday lives and what went on in their holy lives, but that is not the way it was. According to one view, in earlier days, children needed to be justified by Christianity and the children of light were waiting for the word of god to bring them to salvation, and that it was the duty of the colonists to teach them to read the bible and learn Christian ways. (Wright 135).

In 1642 the general court passed a law that all masters of apprentices give their children in their care education enough to insure their ability to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital law of the country (Wright 137). The Church of England and other churches often operated primary schools in the United Kingdom, where students paid a small fee to study the bible, catechism, reading, writing and arithmetic. (Education in the 19th Century, History of Education 2). During the seventeenth century, there were church – sponsored schools organized by colonies.

In 1638 a new school that was supported by The Dutch West India Company, and involved with Dutch Reformed Church was opened in New Amsterdam. (Cremin 314) During this time, about eighty new colleges were founded throughout the country. Many of the colleges owned their beginning to religious denominations, which believed that colleges could help Christianize the community. (Wright, Fowler 195) Boys and girls should have been treated equally, as if the only thing that was different about them was their gender, but in many ways, equality played no role in the education of boys and girls.

Boys were said to be the people that would have better education because of their dreams of becoming something great as adults. For girls, this wasnt even an option because there wasnt much a girl was allowed to do that would make a difference or even a tiny impact in anything that went on during this time. As a result to this, boys and girls were taught differently in school. More boys attended school than girls since many peasant parents considered female education unnecessary. (Education in the 19th century History of Education 1).

Most boys were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, but other academics sometimes taught an even broader curriculum. Some of these things included in the curriculum were Latin, Greek, arithmetic, English, the modern languages, algebra, history, and practical arts of navigation, agriculture, surveying, and predagogy. Some schools were coeducational, although most schools only served one sex. (Cremin 314) The women were domestic, and the home was the scene of their activity. The object of their education was to attract men, gain husbands, have homes, and manage families.

Their teaching was entirely different from that of men, girls were not taught anything such as mathematics, Latin, or sciences, they were only taught a very small amount of geography, astronomy, and natural philosophy. To give a girl the same course of study as a boy beyond the first reader would have been regarded as an absurdity. A book called The Female Friend, published in Baltimore in 1809 said, A female politician is only less disgusting than a female infidel but a female patriot is what Hannah more was and what every American women should be. Hunt 75)

Adissons description of the accomplishments of the English women include: She sings, dances, plays on the lute and harpsichord, paints prettily, is a perfect mistress of the French tongue, and has made a considerable progress in Latin. She is, bedsides, excellently skilled in all domestic sciences, as preserving, pickling, pastry, making wines of fruits of our own growth, embroidering, and needlework of every kind. (Hunt 75-76) After a while, girls had begun to obtain an education that related to that of boys.

Although a few public high schools were opened before the Civil War, private academics were the predominant mode of post elementary for both sexes. (Cremin 314) Rousseau, writing his Emilie, showed what he thought was the object of females education and training and Americans generally were in accord with his view. The education of women, he said, should be always relative to men. To please, to be useful to us, to make us love and esteem them, to educate us when young, and to take care of us when grown up, to advise, to counsel us, to render our lives easy and agreeable; these are the duties of women at all times. Hunt 77) During the Civil War, schooling was disrupted for many whites, and many schools, especially in the south, were destroyed. (Cremin 316)

During the first half of the nineteenth century, the percentage of while children enrolled in school increased dramatically. The practice spread throughout the Midwest, and public schooling existed in the south, but only until the end of the nineteenth century. Aggregate national school enrollment rates for whites between the age of five and nineteen had increased from 35 percent in 1830 to 50. 4 percent in 1850 and 61. 1 percent in 1870.

Whites received a much higher amount of education than African Americans. Blacks didnt have opportunities such as whites, since most blacks were poor. During the time of the Civil War schooling for blacks was inspired. After the Civil War, Northern philanthropists joined with federal agencies to open additional schools, and blacks in local communities across the farmer slave states banded together to organize and operate their own Sabbath schools or Native Schools. (Cremin 316). Almost all the half million African Americans in the colonies at the same time of the revolution were slaves.

In a few instances, religious groups established schools for them. One of the earliest schools were sponsored by the Church of England. A minister named Elias Neau taught school Three times a week for Indians, poor whites, and blacks. Since the Quakers were against slavery, they were outspoken on the freedom and education for African Americans. At the same time not many schools were integrated, especially schools for blacks. The schools that were established include The Boston Latin Schools, which were the first schools, and the Philadelphia African School. (Cremin 316).

Although most blacks were generally denied an education, some African-Americans managed to learn to read and write on their own. Despite some harsher slave codes, which made it illegal to teach blacks reading and writing, whites sometimes helped the blacks by teaching them. In addition to this, slaves taught themselves to read from primers, Bibles, and books stolen or borrowed from white owners, and literacy skills acquired earlier through the teaching of Quaker and Anglican missionaries continued to be transmitted covertly with slave quarter communities from one generation to another.

Thus, roughly five percent of the slave population was literate at the time of the Civil War. (Cremin 316) Although the initial institutional infrastructure of American education was in evidence by the time of the revolution, the establishment of the new nation had a significant impact on the purposes of education. The teaching of Republican virtues became a goal. This new purpose was evident in the texts used in the common schools, which described George Washington and others of the nations statesmen in heroic terms.

It was also evident in the new emphasis on teaching American pronunciation and spelling. Finally, it was evident in the new importance assigned to the education of young women, who were now recognized as republican mothers who would form instructions to the next generation in the civic virtues that seemed essential to national welfare. (Cremin 314-315). The welfare of the New Republic depended on the loyalty, visions, and skill of citizens. (Cremin 314). Loyalty to the country, the amount of skill that you had, and the vision that was acquired, was the basis of a strong republic.

These particular institutions were taught in order to install a sense of duty, responsibility, and faithfulness in a nation. Horace Mann was one of the greatest influences of American education. Horace Mann was an American school reformer who was involved in the common school movement. The common school movement involved shifting coalitions of men and women, most of them Congregationalists or Presbyterians, Whig by political persuasion and professional by occupation. (Cremin 315-316). Mann argued for the creation of a school system operated by individual states that would provide an equal education for all American children. Education In the Nineteenth century History of Education 3) He believed that sending all children to state-regulated schools could both control and perfect society. Because of his determination of providing this type of school, he was appointed as the first superintendent of the state board of education in Massachusetts, where he built the nations first statewide common school system. (Newman 381) Horace Mann along with other school reformers such as Catherine Beecher and Henry Bernard favored the extension of public schooling to all white children.

In order to achieve this goal, they lobbied for public control over schools, with state authorities assuming increasing responsibility for the support and oversight of local Common schools and they advocated the improvement of teaching through the establishment of normal schools and other institutions of teachers training. They argued that schooling was necessary for the economic development of the nation, thereby inaugurating the new traditional argument that school reform and economic prosperity were related.

In addition, they claimed that common schooling would foster equality between social classes and prevent intemperance, avarice, war, slavery, and bigotry. These arguments formulated to make the extension of schooling become a popular cause. (Cremin 316). Mann believed the answer to the school movement lay in removing specific religious doctrines from the schools, retaining a common, nonsectarian creed as the basis for moral education. Actually he believed it was the Precepts and the doctrines of the Christian religion. (Newman 380-381)

As common schools became established in Massachusetts and other states, the question became more then historical. Catholics registered the strongest protests, pointing out that Manns non-denominational Christianity really amounted to non-denominational Protestantism. Catholic students who attended common schools had to endure text books filled with slurs against their faith, ridicule from protestant teachers and students, and daily readings from bible translations that were different in many ways from their own version. Newman 380-381) As a result, Catholics created their own schools. Mann regretted the loss of Catholic students, for many of them were immigrants or children of immigrants the kind of people he felt needed the most character training. (Newman 380-381) Mann, finally lost patience with the gradual process of perfecting society by reforming schools. While saying goodbye to Massachusetts teachers in his common school journal written in 1848, he made a significant admission: Before people could be educated, they had to be free.

In 1852 Massachusetts passed the first laws calling for free public education, and by 1918 all U. S. states had passed compulsory school attendance laws. (Education in the 19th Century History of Education 3). Every child born in the United States today can expect a free education provided by the taxpayers, and parents have come to regard as a natural right the education of their children at public expense. Every state in the union now provides free education through high school, and some states provide free tuition at state supported colleges and universities. (Wright 131).


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