Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shifting Role of American Schools

Traditionally, most American children were educated at home or in private schools. Those public schools which did exist were under strict community control - without state or federal interference. These methods were highly successful, and the nation boasted a 99 percent literacy rate in the early 1880s. At least ten U.S. presidents and numerous other significant figures in history were products of homeschooling. State involvement in public education first appeared in Massachusetts in the late 1840s, though actual control was still local. Parents were allowed to choose the form of education they desired and remained the primary dictators of course content and values.

It was not until the early 1900s that compulsory attendance laws were passed throughout the country and tax-supported, public schools became the primary mode of education. At this time, the theories and reforms of John Dewey, an American philosopher and educator, were gaining popularity. A "scientific humanist" and an original signer of the Humanist Manifesto, Dewey detested religion and believed that society had evolved beyond the need of a God. Man should only believe in that which he could experience.

Dewey is then responsible for bringing secular humanism into America's public school system. And as Abraham Lincoln once observed that the philosophy of the schools of one generation would become the philosophy of the government in the next generation, we can now understand why the generation today has the least morals and godly principles comparing with the generations before.


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