19th Century School System

December 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm 1 comment

Sam Operchuck                                                                                                             12-12-13



 The Early School System of the 19th Century.


A Brief History



            During the Nineteenth Century, many revolutionary thinkers came out of the wood work and aided in a critical period of American History. During this time, one of the most important principles came to fruition: that of a school system that was available to the common child. Until the early 1800s, schooling, much like the weaving of clothes and the baking of foods, was done in the home (during the life of the domestic system). However as America pulled away from the domestic system in industry and technology, it also did so in education. The majority of the push for public schools came from Horace Mann, who later became the first secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Before a structured school system was established, teachers of very small schools or children’s parents were only able to teach what they knew, partially due to the inefficient speed that news and information travelled. However, as public schools started to spring up, so did smaller schools specifically for training teachers (another one of the contributions of Mann).





By the time that schools were a common institution in towns and cities, states began to pass laws making it mandatory to attend school at least through a elementary level. “By 1918 all states had passed laws requiring children to attend at least elementary school.”



Widespread popularity of a public school system


As schools became more refined, the demand for a uniform, standard curriculum became a necessity. Noah Webster, author of the “American Spelling Book”, or “Blue-Backed Speller”, provided for such a demand. Within the book’s first 50 years of being published, over 60 million copies sold to teachers and students across the country. Webster would go on to contribute America’s first dictionary of the English language. Another widely popular textbook is William McGuffey’s “Eclectic Readers” was the “most widely used and distributed series of schoolbooks in America”. For the 19th century student, a school-day began at nine o-clock and only lasted until 1:30, making it a four and a half hour day.




As history has progressed, even from public schools then and now, there are few things that they have in common. They do, however, share many characteristics. As the school system developed, it brought with it a large amount of controversy. Many demanded education for all citizens, yet many also thought it should be a privilege of the wealthy. As the system developed and attendance laws formed, groups such as Catholics created their own “private” schools, where religion was incorporated into daily education. The Public school system boomed and progressed quickly, but as it did so, the private and homeschooled systems also began to develop. Things like Religion, Segregation, Morality, Occupation goals, Politics and many other things would become issues of debate between the groups, as they are today.







United States History – abeka



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Schools in the 1800’s School houses in the 1800s

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. monguinhandel  |  December 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Which school system do you like better?


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