19th and 20th Centuries, Americans Alternatively Experienced Research Paper

Pages: 13 (3665 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … 19th and 20th centuries, Americans alternatively experienced the innovations of the Industrial, Green and Information Revolutions and the type of education that was valued during these respective periods in American history have been closely aligned with the larger social forces in which they occurred. In fact, although the purpose and scope of education in the United States has been the source of debate since the country was founded, but few knowledgeable people will debate the fact that there is a strong relationship between education and social change and that this relationship can be readily identified. To this end, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature to identify the relationship between education and social change in American history, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Table of Contents

Introduction/Background Information

Problem Statement

Literature Review


The Relationship between Education and Social Change

If the industrial revolution was transforming American society, the education system was responding in kind. A new age was dawning, and modern schools were developed to meet its varied needs. John L. Rury, 2002

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Research Paper on 19th and 20th Centuries, Americans Alternatively Experienced Assignment

The relationship between education and social change may not appear straightforward to casual observers, but the two are inextricably bound together. After all, the public schools in the United States have historically been used to inculcate the responsibilities of American citizenship and to promote national values and goals, and in turn, these national values and goals have been shaped by the content of the curricular offerings that were delivered during different periods in history. In this mutually reinforcing and iterative fashion, then, education in the United States serves to not only promote and sustain social change, social change when it occurs can and does cause corresponding changes in the schools. To determine how this process functions, this paper provides a review of the relevant scholarly literature concerning the relationship between education and social change during the 20th century to date, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

Throughout American history, schools have been the focus of much of the debate over the role of government and what types of services and what level of education citizens can reasonably expect in ways that mirrored the larger prevailing social issues of the day. For instance, according to Rury (2002), "Education often has been closely connected to the historical processes of social development. Indeed, in U.S. history, education has been a centerpiece of important periods of change in American society" (p. 4). The public schools that emerged during the early years of the country provided the foundation for a sense of proud nationalism and a very large pot in which to melt the amalgam of multicultural humanity that flooded the North American continent during the second half of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. In this regard, Rury emphasizes that, "Education has contributed to economic growth and political change, and it has helped to forge a national identity from the country's rich variety of cultural and social groups" (p. 4). The strong relationship between education and social change is also made clear by Rury's observation that, "Of course, the process of education itself also has changed a great deal in the past, and it has been influenced by changes in the economy, the political system, and other facets of the social structure including prevailing norms and customs" (2002, p. 4).

The events that took place during the second half of the 19th century in American history are replete with examples of the relationship between education and social change, with the latter fueling gradual but inexorable changes in the former in ways that were mutually reinforcing. For example, Rury (2002) reports that, "The Progressive Era was a period of transformation in the United States. The industrial revolution unleashed powerful forces of change. The economy expanded at an unprecedented rate, the nation's transportation and communications systems evolved rapidly, and the cities underwent booming growth" (p. 172). These powerful social changes therefore demanded corresponding across-the-board changes in the curricular offerings for American students. In this regard, Frye adds that, "All of this demanded significant changes in the educational system, to provide both basic education to the masses of industrial workers and higher forms of instruction to the emerging white-collar labor force" (2002, p. 172). The educational responses that were needed to these social changes, though, required more than merely updating the old curricular offerings but rather demand an more efficient and professional approach to the delivery of educational services in the United States. For instance, Rury (2002) emphasizes that:

As the nation's population expanded -- a result of both natural increase and immigration -- thousands of new schools were needed. With the educational system's growth, more sophisticated forms of management and organization were required to address these conditions. Along with this, fresh educational ideas were debated as educators struggled to fashion a new system of schooling for the 20th century. (p. 172)

Indeed, for American educators, these changes in U.S. society represented far more than just demographic shifts or increases, and it became increasingly apparent that in order to remain viable, American schools would have to change in response to these larger social trends. For example, with respect to the direction of change, Rury (2002) suggests that, "It seems clear that the schools responded to shifts in the economic and social organization of the nation" (p. 172). Likewise, the corresponding effects of these changes in the schools on the larger American society can be discerned from Rury's (2002) observation that, "The rational, bureaucratic reforms of the administrative progressives were in part a response to the development of large, complex, urban school systems, and to the problems of maintaining consistent standards of conduct for students and school employees alike, not to mention board members and politicians" (p. 172).

Therefore, as the American workplace changed, so too did the types of curricular offerings that were deemed most suitable to promote economic development and to provide young learners with the skills they would need to compete in the 20th century workplace. According to Rury (2002), "High schools proliferated, in large part because of the demand for clerical workers, managers, and other white-collar workers needed to record and process information for the age's new large corporate firms and the governmental agencies established to monitor them" (p. 172). Moreover, changes in American society created corresponding changes in the type of educational services that were needed to provide the American workplace with qualified workers. In this regard, Rury (2002) points out that, "Demand for professional service, from legal advice to accountants and engineers, spurred new levels of interest in higher education, as colleges and universities created degree programs to serve their expanding clientele" (p. 172). Indeed, the relationship between education and social change is made as clear as an azure sky with Rury's observation that, "If the industrial revolution was transforming American society, the education system was responding in kind. A new age was dawning, and modern schools were developed to meet its varied needs" (2002, p. 172).

As noted throughout, the relationship between education and social change has historically been mutually reinforcing, with one side predominating from time to time and over time as these issues received alternating attention from lawmakers and educators. On the one hand, educational systems and curricular offerings change in response to the needs of the larger society in which they are provided, while these same systems and offerings have a corresponding effect on what type of society is created as a result. With respect to the precise nature of this relationship, Rury (2002) concludes that this process helped the United States to achieve its economic development goals in ways that might not have otherwise been possible. For example, Rury (2002) asks, "Did schools change society in this period as well?," and answers, "Clearly, they provided the skilled and knowledgeable workers needed for the growth of the urban industrial economy. This was not a small matter, for without an educated workforce it is unlikely that the U.S. economy would have developed as rapidly as it did" (emphasis added) (2002, p. 172)

The process of education and social change took place from the fin de siecle throughout the first half of the 20th century were clearly tied to the larger social issues that were taking place in the country at the time. In this regard, Frye (1999) reports that, "Rapid social change occurred in the United States between 1900 and 1940. This change was induced by industrialization and economic development. Profound structural changes in American society resulted in great social stress" (p. 15). The social stresses that were manifested in response to these structural changes in U.S. society took place at various levels of American society. For instance, according to Singhal, Cody, Rogers and Sabido (2004), "Social change can occur at the level of an individual, community, or society" (p. 5). In fact, it was at the individual level that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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