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.Is any of this still valid today?
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.