Friday, July 06, 2012

How Public Education Was Perceived 100 Years Ago

From "A History of the United States for Grammar Schools", published in 1912 by the Houghton-Mifflin Company:  
The development of popular education in the United States during the past fifty years has been quite as remarkable as our growth in other ways. This nation has adopted better methods for such education than any other in the world. The Federal, State, and city governments spend enormous sums each year in keeping up the public schools, colleges, and universities. 

The half-century's progress in education has, however, been most noticeable in practical and industrial instruction. Colleges and universities not only train ministers, lawyers, and physicians, but they now educate librarians, engineers, electricians, farmers, and students of commerce; and their summer schools are thronged with teachers of youth who are improving themselves in their art. Courses in domestic science, commerce, physical eduication, and manual training are not given in many of our publics schools. Girls are taught how to be good dressmakers and housekeepers, and boys are given a knowledge of the tools that will fit them either for mechanical trades or for usefulness at home. Tens of thousands of young people who in the daytime work for their living, can now carry on their studies in evening schools. 

Schools are not the only means of spreading popular education.  Public libraries and museums are in our day to be found in all parts of the Union.  Public parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers are provided in many of our cities.  These three last-named outdoor institutions not only furnish entertainment and recreation for old and young, but they show that outdoor life is necessary if the people are to keep storng, well, and happy.

In various ways children and adults are taught to respect the form of our splendid free Government and its beneficent laws.  They come to understand, however, that the real strength of the Republic lies in good citizenship and this means that each and every one, old or young, must do his or her part in working for the good of the neighborhood, of the village or the city, of the State, and of the nation.  In no other way can the United States remain a model country in which to live.
Is any of this still valid today?


Anonymous Kelsey O'Keeffe said...

I think that the point made in the last paragraph is still very relevant to our world today, especially in relation to public education. We all need to be supporting and uplifting our public schools!

Currently, I am a production assistant on a documentary film and web project called GO PUBLIC based in Pasadena, CA. We sent 50 filmmakers (40 professional documentary crews and 10 high school student crews trained in documentary filmmaking) on to all 28 public school campuses in PUSD in one day with the intent of capturing "a day in the life" of a very diverse, urban public school district. We wanted to show what happens behind those walls through the lenses of 50 different directors. We launched all 50 of our short films on August 15 and are continuing to work on the feature length documentary.

If you have any time, please take a minute to check out our website,, and watch some of the short films.

Here's an example of one of our 50 short films:

Here's also a link to our Facebook page:

2:22 PM  

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