Schools in the United States didn’t always look the way they do today, but they’ve always had a similar goal: Creating responsible citizens, who had the tools, knowledge and ambition to move a nation forward.
Assumption education majors get a taste of their future degree in their Education 101 course: Schools in American Society.
Students in Education 101 explore the roles of local, state and federal education and agencies, the structures and goals of different school levels (elementary, middle, secondary), and investigate the relationship between schools and society, as well as schools’ ability to achieve various and often conflicting societal goals.
Students learn about the role education has played throughout American history and how teacher training has changed over the years.
Prior to the 1820s, schools were established, then governed on the local level by a pastor, farmer, surveyor, or sometimes even an innkeeper who maintained the school during his offseason.
Education reformers like Massachusetts’ Horace Mann proposed a school system of free, universal schooling funded by taxes. This idea created the first public schools in the United States, called Common Schools. Mann’s wish for the schools was to provide its students with more than basic literacy and arithmetic skills, but also to promote a common political and social philosophy — citizenship.
As school curricula began to expand, reformers realized that schools were in need of not only more teachers but better teachers. Schools known as Normal Schools were created to provide this needed systematic training for teachers, the first established about an hour’s drive from Assumption in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1839.
Around the turn of the 20th century, education courses began to transition to regular colleges and universities as reformers sought to professionalize teaching to a greater degree. From there, the field of teaching was on its way to an established school of academia, with specializations, standardizations and leadership opportunities available.
More than a century later, teachers have more degrees than ever. The bachelor’s degree in education is ubiquitous; about half of teachers hold a master’s degree. But only 39 percent of teachers have bachelor’s degrees in another academic field (which is why students like Assumption’s — who double major in education and their subject areas — are so highly sought after).
Some current areas of pedagogical research and debate include the accuracy of standardization, assessing students, assessing teachers, national and state policy, and access to education for all.
“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring a pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” – Horace Mann