The field of education is under attack. This is not a new fight, or even a new concept, yet the whole field today is under a massive attack from governments, social classes and technology. Education has been intertwined within the field of politics, and it is within this role that various factors have become more affected than others.
This blog includes excerpts from a Research Document I have worked on which focused on the History of Education through a qualitative lens.
The field of education as we know it today began in the United States in 1635. The two known schools of this time were separated by location, yet not specifically by social class. The first grammar school opened was in Boston, and in the South (Virginia) the Colonies opened there first public school. Both of these locations provided education to those that could afford it and had that those in attendance knew religion and the rules of the commonwealth. In 1936 Harvard is opened, and soon after the first law school arrives in Boston as well. The importance of these events is that they are our starting platform for understanding how education in the Colonies and further in the development of the United States leads us toward today.
The primary education of upper class children in colonial days included reading, writing, simple math, poems, and prayers. The primary textbook used was the Bible, and texts that involved in education were of religious or moral undertakings. As children grew older their schooling prepared them for their eventual roles in plantation life. While boys studied more advanced, academic subjects, the girls learned to assume the duties of the mistress of a plantation. Education was provided for white students only and was privately taught.
What we learn is that from the beginning there has been a separation of social class within education, which, as we develop further has become even more segregated in 2011. During the first national implementation of education, the United States once again developed a system grown from religion. At this time wealthy children had a tutor (always a man) who would teach them privately. Some boys went to grammar school and sometimes even college but never girls. Girls were given lessons on how to run a home. It wasn't even expected for girls to spend any of their time reading! Instead their mothers taught them how to cook, sew, preserve food, direct servants and serve an elegant meal.
Grammar Schools came into existence with the growth of middle-class businesses in the late 1700s. These business leaders had a demand for a secondary education that would provide practical instruction in many subjects, from navigation and engineering to bookkeeping and foreign languages. Students needed more than a basic understanding of survival, and business demanded people able to work coming out of school, rather than in the apprentice system. Religion moved aside for commercial topics.
This system was still designed expressly for white wealthy families who could afford to send students to private education.
After what I witnessed over the past five years of progressive movement in the field of Education through the political spectrum, I would have to now share that I believe that many would like to see the old ways return, and or are so upset that they ever went away.
As an educator myself, I truly believe that there needs to be a cultural change in education. This direction is not to close off education, and create situations of vouchers, or tax breaks or even break down education to Charter versus Public schooling. We need to see what works around the world, develop a national platform and truly create an American Education system that is open to all.
The concept of the Founding Fathers, Religion, and even traditional philosophy needs to grow and develop. Those afraid of change are going to remove the forward concepts that research opens for us. Remember, research teaches us that the planet has been around 8-10 billion years, and that the United States is only 235 years old (2011). There is a lot still to learn, and the most important lesson is that when culture does not adapt, then it crumbles.
Today (2011) everyone deserves the chance to receive a high quality education. Funded by the greatest country in the world, and taught by fairly paid, educated teachers who enjoy their career. Politics needs to be removed from the classroom, and parents need to have less control, and more guidance. Politicians who make rules need to be held accountable for actions to both the rich and the disenfranchised.
My final thought on this matter: Education is a word that alone tends to lean toward learning. As someone that has spent the past sixteen years studying the value of education, and working to understand why the disenfranchised remain this way. It is not refreshing to learn that education continues to create rifts between the social classes, yet through the use of real qualitative research, we will be able to understand how to reach people that are among the lower class within the field of education. Then, as the research is further developed, curriculum can be developed so that people of all socio-economic levels can be reached. Politics needs to step away from fast answers and move toward proper research. We all deserve quality change.