Educational Reform During the Age Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

The man who first devised
the present mode of governing colleges in this country has done us more
injury than Benedict Arnold." (172) Wayside's view would begin to reorient
Brown toward the prospect of staffing itself with professional educators
rather than clergy and men of influence.
The motive would be clear here, as the rising prominence in influence
and impulse of young students themselves would drive Wayside and his
contemporaries to scrutinize college governance and administration as
processes separate from the priorities of education itself. The impact of
Wayside's recognition would be the newfound scrutiny of decisions which
placed those unqualified in the areas of education in positions of power
and determination where education was concerned. Perhaps most troubling
amongst the outcomes of this orientation at America's universities was its
perpetuation of a class system. Those who had been elevated to places of
administrative oversight were typically wealthy elites whose legacy in the
institution or community would have a greater bearing on the position of
power than on their qualifications therefore. By outcome, the goals of
education would often be subverted to the proclivities of class exclusion,
making most of America's higher educational contexts the province of those
already wealthy and imbued with opportunity.
A change in perspective demanding a transition from this period
would, by the middle of the 19th century, actually begin to produce
explicit policy change where some of America's more vaunted universities
would be concerned. For Tappan at Michigan and Ticknor at Harvard, for
instance, this period would be seen as an opportunity for reformation to
the improvement of education and the social parameters shaping it.
Accordingly, the first board of regents at the University of Michigan in
1837 included no clergymen, and for the first fifteen years no more than a
quarter of the board were clergymen . . . At Harvard the charter provision
requiring some clergymen on the corporation was repealed in 1851." (174)
These changes were indicative of the increasing pressure on universities to
function at least somewhat more secularly, and more importantly, with an
emphasis on scholarly aims rather than those constructed of the moral and
religious conditions that interested figures such as Nott.
The result in the decades to follow would be a transition not just in
the personnel but also in the academic orientation of the nation's first
and most respected colleges. These would increasingly find the necessity
to diversity content and discipline offerings in order to improve the
educational scope provided to students. The result would be a
liberalization of sorts in the otherwise historically strict and rigid
universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. This would not be an
easily won change for those traditional universities whose interest in
social and ideological control produced education under a strict set of
discipline limitations. Indeed, "Yale agonized in the face of the
movement," trying gradually and in the face of opposition to diversify
course offerings.
This would mark an important break, as would all of these changes,
from the traditional dogma and imposition of the university, instead
recognizing the student as a recipient of education rather than as a
subject of an authoritative social institution. This corresponded with the
evolving American identity. And accordingly, "within such a developing
framework the American college in the nineteenth century was achieving a
balance of power, an equation in which one other element, of course, should
be included-the customers." (176) The customer being the student, this age
of colleges would increasingly demonstrate that the student is to be seen
not as an end product of the university experience but as the catalyst to
the interests and priorities demonstrated there within.…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Rudoph, F. (1990). The American College and University. Dartmouth
College.

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