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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

History of schools

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In the 1800s children were dressed like little adults and, in fact, treated like adults in that they were (in the lower classes) expected to go to work as early as 5 or 6. They were probably more serious than our children; working in a dangerous factory will knock lots of foolishness out of a child. There was no such thing as a teenager and no cult of children who need to be spoiled and entertained. Girls were often married at 15 or 16 and, in the middle to lower classes, boys were expected to decide at about 10 what trade they wanted to go into, so they could be apprenticed.
There was no standard or requirement for literacy; the boys in the upper classes were fluent in Latin, Greek, often French, with some Italian. They were heavily versed in the literary classics. Their less fortunate peers went to school when they could and often taught themselves after work.
Girls in the upper classes were literate and probably knowledgeable in light literature (poetry, novels, etc.) but were discouraged from learning anything more than "feminine accomplishments": playing the pianoforte, drawing, fine needlework.
Poor girls were lucky to be able to read, but often knew something the "better" girls did not: how to run a household.
These children were also raised with a greater presence of death. Dying in childbirth was fairly common and, since birth control was illegal and unreliable, childbirth was tough to avoid. It was rare for a mother, of any class, to raise all her children without one fatality.
Fathers were often killed in factory accidents--with no OSHA to monitor working conditions. The Victorians' repulsive methods of disposing of waste generated many of the fatal illnesses they suffered.
And many people died at their doctor's hands, being bled or "cupped" for all sorts of illnesses and complaints, or treated inappropriately for under-diagnosed symptoms.
I think this climate, in which responsibility was ever-present and mourning was big business, had to have a melancholy affect on children that, luckily, our children don't have.


In the early 1900s, the wealthy children attended private academies.  The schools were houses with a few rooms in them set aside for classrooms.  They were small, with only about three or four pupils in each grade.  One teacher taught several grades in just one room.  In the private schools, girls and boys were not together. They went to separate academies.
Some of the subjects the girls learned were reading, spelling, history, arithmetic, geography and penmanship or handwriting. Sometimes they learned manners and dancing, French, drawing and how to walk and act like a young lady.
The public schools, on the other hand, were free and mostly attended by the kids who were not rich.  Boys and girls were at the same school. There was a class for each grade level with about 20 to 30 kids in each class.
n 1904, children were supposed to go to school until the age of 16; however, most kids never finished the 8th grade.  They went to work in factories, farms and coalmines to help their families.  Some went to high school and a few went to college.  In those days, very few women went to college. Even the rich girls didn't all get to go to college.
From 1910 to 1940, high schools grew in number and size, reaching out to a broader clientele. In 1910, for example, 9% of Americans had a high school diploma; in 1935, the rate was 40%. By 1940, the number had increased to 50%.[ This phenomenon was uniquely American; no other nation attempted such widespread coverage. The fastest growth came in states with greater wealth, more homogeneity of wealth, and less manufacturing activity than others. The high schools provided necessary skill sets for youth planning to teach school, and essential skills for those planning careers in white collar work and some high-paying blue collar jobs. Economist Claudia Goldin argues this rapid growth was facilitated by public funding, openness, gender neutrality, local (and also state) control, separation of church and state, and an academic curriculum. The wealthiest European nations such as Germany and Britain had far more exclusivity to their education system and few youth attended past age 14. Apart from technical training schools, European secondary schooling was dominated by children of the wealthy and the social elites.
The United States chose a type of post-elementary schooling consistent with its particular features — stressing flexible, general and widely applicable skills that were not tied to particular occupations and geographic places had great value in giving students options in their lives. Skills had to survive transport across firms, industries, occupations, and geography in the dynamic American economy.
Public schools were funded and supervised by independent districts that depended on taxpayer support. In dramatic contrast to the centralized systems in Europe, where national agencies made the major decisions, the American districts designed their own rules and curricula
In 1975 Congress passed Public Law 94-142, Education for All Handicapped Children Act. One of the most comprehensive laws in the history of education in the United States, this Act brought together several pieces of state and federal legislation, making free, appropriate education available to all eligible students with a disability. The law was amended in 1986 to extend its coverage to include younger children. In 1990 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) extended its definitions and changed the label "handicap" to "disabilities". Further procedural changes were amended to IDEA in 1997
No Child Left Behind, passed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress in 2002, marked a new direction. In exchange for more federal aid the states were required to measure progress and punish schools that were not meeting the goals as measured by standardized state exams in math and language skills.  By 2012 half the states were given waivers because the original goal that 100% students by 2014 be deemed "proficient" prov ed unrealistic
The education and job world that young people are entering is so different from just 15 or 20 years ago, it’s not even comparable. For the first time in history we have a truly global economy and global competition. It’s completely the opposite of the Baby Boomers’ experience. Then, America was the center of the world. The Second World War had made the U.S. the most advanced and powerful nation ever seen, while our most capable competition was buried in ash and rubble. Now, not only has the world caught up, it’s educated, connected and competing for U.S. jobs that were the exclusive right of U.S. workers just a couple of decades ago.
People are all over the map with blame — bad teachers, lazy students, distracted parents, video games, junk food — which tells me no one has any real answer. I just know what I keep telling my kids: keep your eyes, ears and options open and your priorities straight because the only living you deserve is the one you earn.

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