During this time when child labor was rampant, several organizations came up to rescue the children from this injustice, and this led to the establishment of different learning centers. The result of the establishment of schools in the early 1900s saw significant changes in an education system that was made available and accessible to the children across the nation (Fraser, 2014).
In late 1800 when it was now approaching the 19th century, it is notable that the number of public schools was mushrooming, and several nations saw the necessity for school attendance. By the period of the early 1900s, almost all the states wanted the students between the age of 8 and 14 to go to school for some time in the year. However, the term for the students in the rural centers was shorter since they were still required to assist in the farms.
The rural centers familiarized the one-room schoolhouse where the grades had their single room where they could study together (Fraser, 2014). The student’s study could be monitored by a single teacher who taught all the disciplines. The single class-roomed units were called the common schools, and these were meant for the public students in the United States in the 1800s.
The term “common” stood for the school’s aim to give its service to all the people regardless of their social classes whether low or high as well as their diverse cultures and beliefs. The case in the urban centers was although different in such a way that the classes were partitioned based on the students’ grade level.
The common schools got their financial aids from their local taxes and, therefore, students were never charged for the tuition fees. They were always kept open for all the students in the white regime. The control was exercised by the elected board of the school in the district. There was also an election of the regional director or the county school superintendent who was given the power to supervise the daily activities of the common district schools.
The survey of the current education system could be viewed with a lot of surprises when put in comparison with the one of 100 years ago. The sparseness of classrooms during those times could account for such changes. The number of facilities that the earlier students had was also surprisingly fewer as compared to the current situation, for instance, the books and the research materials.
The schools in the early 19th century had a high level of discipline as opposed to the current curriculum that has been significantly affected by civilization. Discipline was so strict, and memorization was the larger part of learning. Several programs were not available in the school, for example, the lunch programs and this meant that the students had to carry their packed food from home in their metal pails despite the fact that others could afford to pay for the institutionalized food programs (Fraser, 2014).
After the period of revolution in America, a lot of emphases was put on the education system more so in the northern hemisphere where public schools rapidly established. By 1870, almost all the nations had adopted elementary education and the United States population had one of the renowned rates of literacy at this time.
The population pressure in the urban centers called for setting up the private schools in the 1880s whereas the public schools remained to be the only system in the rural setup. However nearing the end of the 18th century, the number of public schools exceeded that of private institutions.
The development of the Catholic parochial school in the United States happened in three phases. The program ran from the late 1750s to the period of 1870s. The schools seemed to be the efforts of the parishes ad hoc and most children from the Catholic religion went to the public schools. From 1870 to 1910, the hierarchy in Catholic Church made a commitment to make the system of Catholic school a separate entity.
The parochial schools, surrounded by parishes tended to be homogeneous in terms of ethnicity. The “old country” language was commonly used to give instructions. In the early 1900s though, modernization of Catholic education was made, and this was modeled after the public school system. Additionally, the Calvinist Dutch, German Lutherans, and the Orthodox Jews imitated the Catholics in starting up parochial schools. In 1876, the majority of the counties in the United States amended their constitution that would see the forbiddance of tax in funding parochial schools (Hunt & Maxson, 1981).
During the reconstruction era, 1000 schools were opened by the Freedmen’s Bureau across the southern region to cater for the African American students. Going to school was highly prioritized among the liberated men, and their admission was not only high but also enthusiastic. Nearing the end of 1865, above 90,000 black students had got their enrollment in the public schools.
The curriculum in these schools was not so much different from the one that was used in the north. Surprisingly, during the early period of establishment of elementary education, there were no transportation services to school and the students could walk for 4 to 5 miles. It was not only the case in the southern hemisphere but was also practiced in the northern hemisphere that was dominated by the students of the whites.
The issue of gender difference was deemed to be so sensitive. Boys could attend their lessons separately, and girls were taught in the separate lesson. The idea of intermingling was highly condemned and at no point were boys and girls allowed to enter the schoolhouse using the same door. The gender roles were emphasized in the learning institution, and the social values were equally given high priority (Hunt & Maxson, 1981).
The academic session was shorter during those days as compared to the current programs. When the education department initially gathered data on the taken disciplines between 1869 and 1870, the average days that found students in school was 132 as opposed to the current 180 days. Also to the countable days that found students in school, the recorded average daily attendance in their registry was only 59%.
The school hours was set to commence at 9 in the morning and could end at either 2 pm or 4 pm (Fraser, 2014). The students who came from far were given the opportunity to break for lunch at 2 pm and never come back for the afternoon classes, and this was the reverse for the children who came from near. The heavy duty like filling the schoolhouse buckets with water that was to be used for drinking by the whole school was the work of the big boys. The young ones, also known as abecedarians were accorded with several privileges due to their ages.
The structures in the early schools were just unbelievable. Nowadays students sit for classes that are modernized and brick or concrete walled. The early schoolhouses, on the contrary, were wooden and most probably were drafty during the winter, not painted and worn out due to their long time of utilization.
The desks were the wooden slabs attached to the walls and children sat on planks of wood supported by wood made legs. Quite interestingly, during the earlier days, the students sat in class facing the walls while facing the teacher with their backs. The windows were highly raised, and this was meant to prevent any form of distraction whenever the scholars were learning. The blackboard was only one positioned at the classroom front (Fraser, 2014).
The first district school was built at the start of 1841. The schoolhouses were accorded with numbers and not names. In this school, a single teacher could be posted to teach the schoolhouse. The teacher could be a schoolmaster or a schoolmistress depending on their sex.
They handled teaching all the grades to the children from age 4 to 18. They were chosen randomly, and they never had any teaching experience. The children in the rural centers could comfortably fit one schoolhouse since their population was not so big as compared to those who lived in the urban centers.
Just like in elementary education, the early higher institutions in America were smaller in size and were poorer as compared to the universities that were present in the Great Britain. The Cambridge University, which was the then sole Centre for intellectuals among the Puritan movements is where the studies curriculum evolved ranging from grammar, rhetoric, logics, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, and the three philosophy parts that are, the natural, moral and mental. The very first curriculum had a lot of bias in mathematics as a discipline, and there was also a classical revival of the study authors. During this time, the universities were still governed by Queen Elizabeth, and this necessitated that the students be proficient in philosophy, rhetoric, and logics. The three disciplines were to be examined among the students upon their graduation with degrees (Pulliam & Van, 2007).
Apart from the three compulsory disciplines, the additional study program was determined by the instructor who could give the extra subject to the 4 to 5 students assigned to them. The main objective of studying at Cambridge University was to perfect the knowledge of the students in Greek and Latin to acquaint them with the methods and thoughts of scholasticism.
Another reason was to enhance the students’ respect towards the authorities. The students were not expected to take any post-graduate course unless prescribed for them. Conversely, they were expected to have three more years registered for theology lessons.
Scientific subjects were given comparatively little attention at Harvard University during these olden days. The freshmen were majorly taught astronomy and spherical geometry. Unlike in Cambridge, the study of theology, Hebrew, Syria and Aramaic were programs in the undergraduate curriculum. All classes memorized passages and recited them to the president in every morning of Saturday.
Preparing and reading passages’ logical analyzes during prayers every morning and evening simultaneously provided training in theology, Hebrew, Greek, and logic. The post-graduate students pursuing master’s degree had to go through three years as opposed to the current two years of training. They had to be coached by the minister and it was their requirement to give official sermon or rather to defend their synopsis in front of the public to be graduated from that level (Pulliam & Van, 2007).
During the second leg of the 18th century, the colleges started moving from the models of the established curriculum with considerable freedom. The variations, however, have self-interest, are less significant than the other larger shifts in the adopted emphasis and methodology and to some point by every single college.
The tutorial system, where the tutor collectively taught a group of students all the subjects was the only accepted teaching method at Harvard which was the first colonial college. The gradual change that occurred from the Syllogistic disputation to forensic debate was a great shift in methodology. The disputes regarding the regulations handed down from the other universities and used in many of the colleges started declining in their popularity by mid-century.
It has been a general suggestion that the blame for disputation decline is laid to a formal argument dislike by the commencement audience and the students. The latter is aimed to increase the emphasis on the governmental and legal rather than the training in theology in the colleges (Hunt & Maxson, 1981).
Another significant educational change at this time of reconstruction was the foreign languages admittance to the curriculum of the college and subsequently the different role of Greek and Latin. Many individuals were authorized to teach French as part of the official Harvard common course. Many of the books of English language were in science.
The colonial rule was particularly interested in science even though this discipline was factored in the college curriculum with a lot of reluctance. Science, according to the early historians evolved through three different stages. That is the formative, transition period and the established pattern.
In the period of very early 1800s, different disciplines of chemistry, mathematics, geography and the natural history started emerging from the non-exclusive natural philosophy. The Harvard, Yale and the Dartmouth colleges integrated geometry, algebra, arithmetic, gauging, conic sections and “arithmetic of infinite” in their program. These colleges maintained a strong tradition of mathematics throughout the century. The early professors who taught chemistry were the medical practitioners and had to share the medical knowledge with the students.
Biology remained a core unit in all the courses in the natural philosophy. It was strengthened by the amendment of the Philadelphia curriculum that advocated for the two months study of the “vegetables’ natural history” as well as the natural history of animals. Geography was only meant for the exercises that made use of globes and maps in reading and compiling information regarding geography.
Political subjects only appeared in the master’s program. It was at this juncture where the topics relating to the Commonwealth relations with the state, government authority, peoples’ rights, and other disciplines relating to the temper of the times were offered. At this point, the students were expected to have practical knowledge and sense of their positions as citizens.
The assumption was that they were to be responsible citizens who could embrace their ethics, civil and natural laws (Pulliam & Van, 2007). The moral philosophy courses that were on offer for all the college students were geared to equip students with more knowhow of their rights. Surprisingly, these courses were taught by the president. The discipline had more of political science as well as civil government plans.
Thus, the early American elementary and college curriculum was closely modeled after the 18th-century curriculum of the Cambridge University. During the last part of the 18th century, even though, we observe that the schools and colleges started showing deviation from the old patterns in many significant ways. Tutorial systems prepared the way to the curriculum with tutorial assignments per subjects.
There was an enhancement of science, political education, and modern foreign languages that found their way in the current curriculum. The methodology in the disputation of syllogistic was also replaced by daily exercises with less rigid regulations of procedures and a wider range of disciplines (Pulliam & Van, 2007).
Fraser, J. W. (2014). The school in the United States: A documentary history
Pulliam, J. D., & Van, P. J. J. (2007). History of education in America. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Merrill.
Tompkins, V. (1996). American decades: 1900-1909. Detroit: Gale Research.
Hunt, T. C., & Maxson, M. M. (1981). Religion and morality in American schooling. Washington, D.C: Univ. Pr. of America