Understanding the History and Future of American Education

We take educational opportunities for granted today, but it’s important to remember that access to free education wasn’t always available. There’s a lot we need to improve about the United States school system, but we’ve come a long way in the last hundred or so years.

Understanding the history of American education is important as we look to the future. As our society evolves, it’s critical to realize how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go. So, how did we get to the current system, and where do we go from here? Let’s take a look.

Informal Education in America

Before formal education was written into state laws, it was largely a matter left up to families. Wealthy families could send their children to school because they could afford the fees and didn’t need the children to work at home. Poor families depended on their children for labor and didn’t have the means to educate their children beyond what they themselves knew, which often wasn’t much.

The Beginning of Formal Education

The founding fathers understood that education would be important for a strong nation and set aside federal land for public schools. However, the move toward formal education was slow.

The first state to mandate that children get an education was Massachusetts in 1852. Children under the age of 14 had to study at least 12 weeks per year. While that’s very little schooling in comparison to modern laws, it was revolutionary and set the stage for more children to get an education in the United States.

Formal education laws slowly became established in each state after Massachusetts pioneered the mandate. Jobs were changing and employers needed more people who could read, write, and do basic arithmetic. It wasn’t until 1917 that Mississippi, the last state to require formal education, passed its own law.

The Next 100 Years

After Mississippi started requiring children to attend school, its importance began to grow over the next century. Legal battles started to shape the rights children had when attending school. Desegregation in schools, the protection of students’ First Amendment rights, and other important changes occurred.

Slowly, corporal punishment started to disappear from the classroom. The methods of teaching began to evolve from rote memorization to more dynamic, hands-on methods. Public schools, while still the most popular choice for American families, became only one option for parents.

Educational Options Today

Most children still attend public school, but there has been a shift in the way we view learning. This is starting to show in the new educational options for families. Some alternative learning solutions include:

  • Homeschooling
  • Charter schools
  • Learning pods
  • Microschools
  • Nature preschools

Many parents want to see their kids problem-solve, gain independence, and learn in a more creative environment. While this is a positive evolution, it’s not available to all children. Some kids, especially those in low-income areas, don’t have access to the same options as wealthier children. Many of these educational options also require extensive parental involvement, which can be impossible for working parents.

To help ensure fairness in the education system, we need to emphasize ethical leadership in the field and focus on legislation that promotes fairness. Without the right people at the helm, we risk carrying these inequalities into the future of our schools.

The Future of Education in America

With over 100 years of mandated public education behind us, what’s next for the American education system? As the demands of the workforce change, so do our ideas about what kids should be learning in the classroom. Today, that means teaching children how to problem-solve and work with technology, in addition to basics like reading and writing.

Many educators are concerned about gender gaps in the STEM fields, leading to initiatives across the nation aimed at getting girls excited about these subjects. These initiatives go hand in hand with technology entering the classroom and changing the way kids learn.

We’ve come a long way from 12 weeks a year to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, but there’s still a long way to go. We need to appreciate what we have while looking ahead to make sure that kids have everything they need to lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Related Contents:


Am Sobi From Mirpur Azad Kashmir, am the owner of sobitech, WebMastershall, Justmyfitness, Travelguidebook, eduqia, sobigraphics,Bussinees, blogging since 2012 & writes about Reviews, Laptops, traveling, fitness, web designer and developer, Computing, Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech and much more,

Related Articles

Back to top button