Edlps 530: History of Education in the U. S. Reader Guide



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EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide


October 1

Colonial/Revolutionary Era: Education for Citizenship

Carl Kaestle, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, Prince Hall,

Negro Education Society, and Negro Editorial


This week’s readings focus on the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras in American educational history. Kaestle provides an overview of the type of educational opportunities (namely dame schools, apprenticeships, elite grammar schools, and charity schools) that were available. He also makes obvious the link between an educated populous (particularly the white male populous) and democracy in the new nation. The concept of “American” was entirely new, and people debated over how, exactly, education/schooling could create an American nation. Think about what you know about the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras. How did the social, political, and economic reality of the time influence the nature of education? What was unique about this period in American history, and how was that uniqueness reflected in ideas on education?

The primary sources are meant to contribute to and augment the Kaestle reading with a particular focus on the Revolutionary Era. The writings by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush, both elite white men, reveal a particularly strong Revolutionary Era sentiment and provide a glimpse into some of the hotly contested issues at the time. The writings by Prince Hall, a Negro Education Society, and the editors of the first black newspaper provide additional examples of Revolutionary Era sentiment and another look into contemporary issues. What was the purpose of education as each of these authors saw it? Do the different authors agree?


EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide


October 8

Common School Era: Why Public Schools?

Carl Kaestle, Michael Katz, Horace Mann,

Catholic petition, John Ireland


The Common School Era, which occurred between 1830 and 1860 in the Northeast and Midwest, is when public schooling as we know it emerged. Prior to this time, schools predominately served the elite with a combination of public and private funds. The new concept was a difficult sell. Common school reformers had to figure out how to convince the elite to shun private schooling in order to attend the new public school system and how to convince the poor that schooling would be a worthwhile experience for their children. Also, common school reformers had to grapple with how the same school could serve a large and diverse population. Debates over the worth and meaning of the common schools raged. Your secondary sources, Kaestle and Katz, provide different interpretations of why common schools. What do you think of their arguments? Were they the democratic mechanisms that Kaestle describes? Or were they devised to solidify and justify social stratification as Katz posits?
The primary sources represent the debate over the common school during the 1830s and 1840s. Horace Mann, the primary figure behind the proliferation of the common school, explains the need for the schools and their benefit for society and the poor in particular. The Catholic Petition and the speech by John Ireland demonstrate the other side of the debate where groups, in the case Irish Catholics, argued for local control and blasted the common school for placing itself between parents and children.
What do you think? Who should control education? Should it be centralized or decentralized? What are the consequences of hyper-centralization or local control? What does the mean for the mission of the common school? What do you think of the common school in today’s context?

EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide
October 15

The Education of Outsiders during the Reconstruction Era

David Adams, James Anderson, Rules for Indian Schools, Hopi Girl Recollections,

Booker T. Washington (chapters 10 and 14), W. E. B. DuBois


These readings, focusing on African Americans and Native Americans, demonstrate that certain groups were outside the main thrust of the educational reforms previously discussed in class. However, educational reformers spent quite a bit of time and energy devising the “proper” form of education for these particular groups.
The end of the Civil War prompted national discussions of what to do with newly emancipated African Americans in the south. Elite southern whites of the planter class eschewed any type of education for blacks, and even poor whites, since it would disrupt the social order. Northern white educational reformers devised various educational solutions for blacks, some of which were more liberal than others. Blacks, too, moved to provide education for their youth. Anderson’s chapter focuses on black educational initiatives, a fact almost wholly lacking in any historical scholarship of the era.

The Civil War is not an appropriate marker for understanding Native American history or educational experiences. However, white reformers debated the proper type of education for Native Americans at the same time they debated that of African Americans. Reformers asked, what should be done with these “domestic foreigners?” A spirit of amelioration was evident in the attitudes of different missionary groups who attempted to Christianize and civilize Native American nations. This sentiment translated into particular educational programs and policies. Adams’ chapter focuses on the development of the boarding school concept as the answer to the Indian problem.


The primary sources allow African Americans and Native Americans to speak for themselves. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois represent two sides of a debate over what type of curriculum would best fit blacks for their new citizenship status. When reading their work, remember that they are arguing over the education of future leaders (i.e. teachers) of the race not the masses (In Washington, read only chapters 10 and 14-though there is a chapter on the Black Race and the Red Race that you may find interesting). With regard to the Native American primary sources, the first reading discusses the type of curriculum and discipline necessary for good Indian education as defined by whites. The second source offers the voice of a child who attended white missionary schools and is intended to humanize and add texture to the schooling experience.
Ask yourself: What should the role of philanthropy be in education? What are the hallmarks of an educational system you would consider liberatory? How can we understand the similarities and differences between Native American education and African American education? How do these groups fit in the picture of the common school or the purpose of education?

EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide
October 22

The Progressive Era

Herbert Kliebard, David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot,

John Dewey, Committee of Ten, Cardinal Principles


The Progressive Era in education (1890-1920) represented a time filled with curricular answers to a variety of problems in society: the decline of the nuclear family, increased immigration, urbanization, and industrialization. Different reformers formed different camps within the progressive education movement. Your readings represent two of the major strands: developmental democracy (or pedagogical progressivism) and social efficiency (or administrative progressivism). Though they are distinctly separate, there are common threads. Progressive education, in general, was critical of traditional educational practices including: an emphasis on book learning and reliance on textbooks, an adherence to a daily schedule with specific subject matter allotted specific periods of time, an extrinsic reward systems, rote memorization and drill as a teaching and learning tool, and the domination of the classroom by the teacher. It emphasized: active learning or learning by doing, cooperative planning of what to study between teacher and student, teaching what is useful to the student and in the students best interest, and recognizing individual differences between students abilities and interests and acting accordingly.


The Kliebard reading provides an overview of pedagogical progressivism and administrative progressivism. Kliebard mentions the Committee of Fifteen and (William Torrey) Harris, the U.S. Commissioner of Education who had also been superintendent of schools in St. Louis (you’ll read a piece from him on bilingual education later in the quarter). The Committee of Fifteen published a report focused on the elementary school curriculum. It supported the notion of a classical curriculum including grammar, literature and art, mathematics, geography, and history. Harris, an important member of the Committee, was opposed to specialized vocational training. The primary sources include a short excerpt by John Dewey (who would fit under the label pedagogical progressivism), the report written by the Committee of Ten in 1892 (which was a defense of the classical curriculum as differentiated education grew in popularity) and the 1928 “Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education” (which represent a major challenge to the Committee of Ten).
Do you see remnants of either/both type of progressivism in your schooling experience? Why do you think that is the case? What does that mean for schooling/education in general? How do each of the campus define the purpose of education and the role of the school in society?
EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide


October 29

Immigrants and Language

Paula Fass, Ruben Donato, excerpts from Language Loyalties
Immigrants experienced American education/schooling in different ways. These readings focus on the experiences of Southern and Eastern European immigrants and Mexican immigrants/Mexican Americans. These groups often occupied the bottom of the social and economic ladder after arriving in the U.S. People sought to explain why, and science played a large role in explaining differences in academic and intellectual ability. Curriculum, immigration policies, and other programs/policies took cues from the scientific evidence of diminished intellectual capacity, a fact that colored these immigrants’ experiences with schooling.
The secondary sources by Fass and Donato outline attitudes toward these groups, the type of education available to them, and the obstacles they faced in securing equal educational opportunity. The secondary sources focus on language issues, in particular bilingualism, for Germans and Spanish speakers (which, at the time, was synonymous with Mexicans/Mexican Americans).
How has the justification for/against bilingual education changed/stayed the same? How does immigrant status (or country of origin) influence bilingual policy? Reflect on the purpose of education as we’ve defined it--how does bilingual education fit? What are the author’s saying about language and American identity?

EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide
November 5

A Brief History of the University of Washington


This week we will hear from an archivist at the University of Washington and discuss some of the highlights of UW history.

***WE WILL MEET IN A CLASSROOM IN THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS DEPARTMENT: ALLEN LIBRARY SOUTH, BASEMENT***

EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide

November 12

Textbooks and “Truth”

Ruth Miller Elson, Moreau, and excerpts from textbooks
Schools would be nothing without textbooks. When we discuss the purpose of education we cannot forget that this mission is often realized and made most obvious in the textbooks at the K-12 level. Their messages can be both overt and covert, but their mission has remained largely unchanged: they are monuments of tradition. Your secondary sources, by Miller Elson and Moreau, discuss the content, purpose, and debate over textbooks in the nineteenth century and twentieth century.
The primary sources are from three distinct eras. The first set is from the McGuffey Readers, the most popular textbooks in the 19th century. The second set is from a junior high textbook by Harold Rugg, a controversial author discussed in your reader, written during the early twentieth century. The third set is from a contemporary textbook in circulation written in 2003.
Think back to your K-12 textbooks. What story did they tell of America? Why do you think that was the case? What story do you believe should be told? How does that fit with your idea on the purpose of education? Can you imagine how different events (the Civil War, World Wars, the fall of the Soviet Union, etc.) impacted textbooks?

EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide
November 19

Students, Colleges, and Activism in the 1960s

Daniel Perlstein, Rebecca Klatch, Max Rafferty
Youth activism dominated the 1960s. College students participated in a variety of campaigns on and off their campuses.
Students, most of them from historically black colleges and universities, formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. These students spearheaded a large scale direct action campaign to desegregate facilities and register black voters. In the summer of 1964, SNCC organized the Freedom Summer Project which brought white college students from the north to Mississippi in order to assist in voter registration and freedom schools. Later in the decade, black college students turned their attention inward and focused their efforts at reforming their particular campuses. They met with harsh and punitive action.
Black activism of the early 1960s inspired white college students and other youth to examine their particular reality and agitate for reform. The most well-known groups are the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. However, conservative students also organized and agitated. The Young Americans for Freedom participated in a variety of protests and demonstrations on and off college campuses. These liberal and conservative groups debated free speech, communism, and the war in Vietnam.
Your readings discuss these interrelated movements. The first reading, by Dan Perlstein, examines the SNCC Freedom Summer Project and the Freedom Schools in particular. The chapter by Elizabeth Klatch examines the liberal (some would say radical) and conservative white student activism during the early part of the decade. The Max Rafferty primary source offers another conservative voice to the interpretation of “right and wrong.”
Where do you stand on the issues? Can you understand the liberal position on the necessary changes to society and higher education? Can you understand the conservative position on the necessary changes to society and higher education? As an administrator at Berkeley or a black college in the south, how might you have balanced the competing interests of First Amendment rights and the smooth functioning of a college?
EDLPS 530: History of Education in the U.S.

Reader Guide


December 3

The Present Moment in School Reform

Christine Sleeter, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., No Child Left Behind materials
During the last week of class we will discuss current initiatives to improve the quality of education and the educational outcomes for underserved students.
On the heels of the social activism of the 1960s, educational reformers began to look at the curriculum, teacher pedagogy, and the purpose of education in primary and secondary schools more closely. Multicultural education efforts grew out of these concerns. Though multicultural education was considered more harmless than its Afrocentric sibling, both encountered resistance.
These readings include work by some of the most important people on the subject. Christine Sleeter is considered one of the foremost authorities on multicultural education. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., is considered a reputable historian who would label himself as liberal though he heavily critiques multicultural education and Afrocentric education.

I included the Giroux piece since he reminds us of the role of the teacher in the educative process.


The primary sources focus on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), passed by Congress in 2001. Part of the Act’s purpose is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” This is in accomplished, in part, by standardized test that stress stronger accountability for schools with underperforming students.
Think about these questions as you do the readings:

What is the purpose of education? How is that achieved? What does this mean for the curriculum? For the role of the teacher? What is equal educational opportunity? And, how do we ensure it exists?


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