Education Reforms In the Mid 19th Century

During the mid 19th century there was an increase in public tax-funded education caused by a realization by the wealthy Americans that an illiterate and uneducated majority could result in disorder and chaos. However schooling at this time was very limited, often emphasizing the subjugation of the students to the teachers through corporal punishment over the actual reading, writing, and math. However this would be changed by the efforts of Horace Mann who successfully campaigned for an improved education system through he addition of better school houses, longer school terms, higher pay for teachers, an expanded curriculum, attendance, well trained professional teachers, and a time schedule enforced by a bell. This new and improved education system allowed children to become trained for for the work force as well as be inoculated with new ideas and morals.

This is a picture of what a typical American school house would look like before the education reform.

"Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men - the balance - wheel of the social machinery. I do not here mean that it so elevates the moral nature as to make men disdain and abhor the oppression of their fellow men. This idea pertains to another of its attributes. But I mean that it gives each man the independence and the means, by which he can resist the selfishness of other men."

- Horace Mann

Twelfth Annual Report to the Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education


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