During the Second Industrial Revolution, most Western nations saw the need for mass education. Their primary goal was to provide a well-trained, skilled labor force for white collar jobs. Another goal was to educate the future generation of voters. Also, by putting children of different cultures, nationalities and religions into schools, helped to unite people into a common belief of nationalism.
The way to achieve these goals was to provide mandatory state-financed schools for children ages 6-12. This gave poor children the opportunity to get a primary education and the training needed for a skilled labor force and new job opportunities. Children between the ages of 14-17 who enrolled in high schools were mostly from wealthy families. These schools also "Americanized" immigrants in America so they could fit into society and be a part of the political system.
In today's world our needs for an educated work force is very similar to the needs of the Second Industrial Revolution. With the advances in technology, an education is very important, the only difference is that in the 1900s a primary education was mandatory and today a high school education is mandatory. Also, in the 1900s only the rich could afford higher education. Today, college is available to all classes and is necessary to fulfill the needs of high-tech professions. Education is also important today, as it was then, in politics by helping us make informed decisions when we vote. Unlike the 1900s though, the schools today do not "Americanize" immigrant students as much. Public schools today celebrate different cultures and do not instill patriotism and nationalism as they did then. Immigrants today tend to keep their identities and not blend into American society as easily. Although we have a high literacy rate today, the influx of undocumented workers are increasing the number of unskilled and illiterate workers in our country.
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