Summary – Book Report/Review Example
Education and Social Change The history of social change in America is intertwined with the history ofeducation. A look into the history of social change proves that both these factors influenced each other. Education enabled certain social groups to climb the ladder of social status in different styles and at different paces. The history of social change in America can never omit the history of education.
Education had an important role in American social development in the 19th century. During 1800s, different groups including women and African Americans faced exclusion and discrimination in the American education system. A perfect example of the role of education is the Irish immigrants. They faced serious discrimination in the 19th century and did menial jobs in the society. There were more Irish in jails than other groups (Rury 98), and they represented most of the homeless. However, the second generation of them managed to get skilled jobs, and with better financial situation, by the end of the 19th century, the Irish school enrollment rate was equal to that of long-settled American natives (Rury 100). In addition, by 20th century, nearly one-third of the public school teachers in New York were Irish (Rury 104). Most other ethnic groups followed similar patterns, though in a slower manner. Similar is the case of females. The change started through visionaries like Emma Willard and Horace Mann who advocated advanced education for women. Thus, by the end of 19th century, women reached jobs which required advanced education. However, African-Americans faced the toughest deal as there was strong racist ideology against them. The situation changed for a short period after the Civil War when North initiated Reconstruction (Rury 113). There was a considerable increase in the number of African American students in the South as a result. However, the reconstruction came to a halt as the White supremacists regained power. The schools for Blacks received little or no assistance from the White leaders and the situation again worsened. The history of American Indians is more or less the same.
The beginning of the 20th century witnessed considerable economic and industrial growth followed by population growth. The result was a weakening of the existing social and community bonds. In addition, there was influx of immigrants to industrial areas. Harsh working conditions resulted in revolts and labor conflicts became common. A large number of scientific advances and theories came, offering a new world order and creating uncertainty about future. This progressivism introduced two changes in education; firstly, education became more responsive to the needs of children, and secondly, schools were more closely integrated with the community. Thus, by the early 20th century, nearly half of the nation’s teenage population attended schools, and the rise of secondary schooling boosted the educational attainment in America. This increase in education attainment led to better productivity and efficiency (Rury 142). However, these changes did not considerably benefit women and Blacks as racism and sexism still existed. Another change during the period was the birth of modern university.
The period after World War II witnessed “baby boom”, and a new adolescent culture emerged around educational institutions (Rury 178). As the Nazi theory of superiority was averted, many people started questioning the existing ideas of social superiority based on race. In addition, the experience of Great Depression and the growth of trade unions broke the existing concepts of social status. In addition, the increasing number of Black population in cities caused a change in racial composition of public schools. For the first time in the history of American, federal government started using schools as a way to address the problem of inequality. The period thereafter saw various initiatives from government to address inequality through schools. As more teens started attending high schools, there arose an adolescent culture. They had their own entertainment; fast cars, cigarette, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, and rock-and-roll music. The period after 1950s saw an ever-larger number of youth reaching colleges. This “baby boomers” became a significant force. With distrust towards the values of the adult society, this new generation gave birth to a new “counter-culture” and impressed the same on the rest of the society (Rury 184).
In total, it becomes evident that social change in America during the 19th and 20th century was considerably influenced by the developments in education. In addition, it is seen that social change had an important role in shaping American education system.
Rury, John L. Education and Social Change: Contours in the History of American Schooling. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.