Successes and Failures in Curricular Reform Thesis

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Educational Reform During the Age of Colleges

The first major transformation would thus begin as an emphasis on

intellect and academic evolution, with religiosity coming increasingly to

be understood as a poor foundation for scholastic improvement. Thomas

Jefferson, a founding figure as fundamental in our educational tradition as

in our tradition of democracy, would be motivated toward change by a

recognition of the value in excellence in learning. This would produce the

transition, deeply opposed by the religious authorities of the early 19th

century, toward an educational tradition that could differentiate itself

from America's Christianity.

Given that so many groups viewed this as a counter-traditional attack

on Christian and American values, it is a move that was taken with no small

amount of hostility. Indeed, "when Thomas Jefferson in 1814 recruited a

faculty, including four Englishmen and a German, on the basis of

intellectual promise and learning rather than piety, he invited the

hostility of the press, which was much more interested that a faculty be

American than that it be learned." (158) However, Jefferson's intent to

construct an educational facility with the skills and intelligence to

improve the knowledge and wherewithal of future generations of Americans

would have a substantial impact on a secular learning tradition. Today,Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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whether achieved or not, the aims presented by Jefferson do appear to have

forged a mold for the diversification and qualification of those who would

be educators. Also, Jefferson's impulses would also drive schools toward

the practical implications of a separation between church and such state-

based institutions as school.

This would be an important transition which, as indicated in the

text's contention with such figures as Eliphalet Nott, would be prompted by

a changing cultural tendency in the burgeoning nation. A sense of greater

Thesis on Successes and Failures in Curricular Reform Assignment

independence and a more aware perception of that which it meant to be an

American were both increasingly provoking an examination of the disposition

of such figures as Nott. A theological scholar and devout member of the

clergy, the long-time president of Union College would be a catalyst to

individuals such as Jefferson, who viewed Nott's type as the college

professor of a waning day. Jefferson's position would be shared by a great

many others, who viewed the preponderance of religious figures in practical

education as failing to attend to the realistic needs of young men.

Accordingly, the text denotes of the clergyman's approach to education,

"this divorce from the world-which was nothing less than a rejection of the

enterprising, exploiting, self-seeking qualities of American life-would not

recommend the professors to their students or, increasingly, to their

students' fathers and to the governing boards as well." (160) Indeed,

change was becoming an inevitability as the piety or moral imposition of

previous generations of educators was now an ill-fit for the identity of

young America. Its ambition helped to drive the shift away from

unimpeachable religious centrality and toward the world of textual

examination and scrutiny instead.

Religion, it would appear, was not the enemy of proper education. It

was, however, the improper vantage from which many academic leaders had

come, as opposed to backgrounds in actual scholarly instruction of specific

fields of selected merit. To Wayland, who would serve almost thirty years

to the presidency of Brown University, this was true to the highest levels

of authority. From his perspective, a great disservice had been done to

the institutions of higher education in the United States through the

failure of their leaders to choose figures of more suitable backgrounds for

improving instruction. In his own words, Wayland would ask, "How can

colleges prosper directed by men, very good men to be sure, but who know

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