Understanding the Relationship Between American Schools and Society: A look at how society and curriculum are based upon each other

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The interrelationship between society and the curriculum being taught in schools is deeply rooted in the history of American schools. The organization of society itself is believed to always shape the education of children in one way or another. Schools in turn reinforce the normality's of the society they are based within. The subject matter of the curriculum taught in the United States public schools has been an important issue throughout American history. Programs of study have varied in what is being taught, and how it is being taught; as the many types of social reform have also varied through the years.

In America in the late 1700s, following the Massachusetts education laws of 1642 and 1647, educating American children became more of a social responsibility as teachers were beginning to be formally hired for the exclusive purpose of teaching. School was becoming more of a necessity within American society. Children were taught in the hopes they would some how contribute to achieving social harmony by means of literacy and religion. In this period in the history of the United States, the search for of religious freedom led the way to modern education.

The socialization of America's youth begins to show in America in the 1800s, as a school's set of courses would consist mainly of reading, writing and basic arithmetic. The values and beliefs which are common with that of the societies are drummed into a child's life. Many social reformers at the time believed that the way to achieve a secular society was through educating children in a certain fashion. In the early 1800s schools in the United States eliminated English textbooks in an attempt to ensure nationalism and patriotism in Americans. At this time most people could only read the Bible, newspapers or their taxes. Children who were going to school were expected to learn how to read for religious reasons, as well as learning national history that was built around the founding fathers (George Washington). Thomas Jefferson supported general education programs because he believed democracy depended on it. Horace Mann of Massachusetts also stressed the importance of the founding of common schools, which he believed would benefit not only society, but individuals as well. His point of view showed both concern for solidity and order, as well as for social mobility, which was believed to be achieved by means of free public education. Mann's beliefs of education helping to achieve social mobility helped to support the development of America's public school systems as we know them today.

The effect of schooling began to play a major role in determining who would get ahead in society and who will not. Buckminster Fuller, a renowned author and inventor, in his book "Education Automation" can be quoted as writing "The more educated our population the more effective it becomes as an integral of regenerative consumer individuals. We are going to have to invest in our whole population to accelerate its consumer regeneration. We are going to be completely unemployed as muscle-working machines. We as economic society are going to have to pay our whole population to go to school and pay it to stay at school. That is, we are going to have to put our whole population into the educational process and get everybody realistically literate in many directions." Although Fuller's ideas were written later than the time of educational reform in America, his thoughts strongly grasp those which would have been prevalent at the time of the late 1800s. He stresses the importance of being educated if you want to be successful in society.

Public education systems in the later 1830s faced problems regarding the subject matter of the curriculum. At the time Protestant readings which were against Catholics were taught in public schools. Immigrants such as the Irish, were also expected to attend the same schools but did not agree with the subject matter being taught. The religion debates...
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