Timeline American Education Has Evolved Considerably Since Term Paper

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American education has evolved considerably since the late 19th century. One of the first philosophers to influence the character of modern American education was John Dewey. Dewey was a progressive, and believed that children should not just sit in classrooms passively memorizing material. Instead, students should learn via experience and interaction with their environments. Dewey's humanistic approach to education revolutionized the ways people thought about schooling and pedagogy. A timeline of American education begins with Dewey, because he was the person to first codify the structure and philosophy of education, and then offer the methods and means to implement those ideas. Dewey is known as a "pragmatist" because of his ability to fuse philosophy and practice, and had "the most significant contribution to the development of educational thinking in the twentieth century," (Smith, 2001).

Maria Montessori was the first female to become a doctor in Italy. Working closely with children inspired Montessori to devote her time and energy to the improvement of the educational system. Montessori was particularly interested in children characterized as having behavioral problems. Like Dewey, Montessori succeeded because she treated children with determination and self-realization," (Smith, 2012). The teacher was a facilitator, leader, and observer, not a disciplinarian or authoritarian. Montessori's informal methods integrated well with those of Dewey, and her ideas soon spread beyond Italy and to the American educational system.

The character of education in America was changing, due in large part to the influence of progressive thinkers like Dewey and Montessori. Education was shifting beyond the rigid and rote learning models of the past towards more student-focused and humanitarian approaches. However, education was not universal or accessible to all students in America. Lingering racism prevented African-Americans in much of the country from having access to the same educational services and resources that white students enjoyed. Whereas Dewey and Montessori highlighted the pedagogy of education, many Americans needed first to tackle the politics of education. In the 1950s, a landmark suit was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States. Until 1953, a ruling called Plessy v. Ferguson enabled a "separate but equal" educational system in which whites and blacks studied in different schools. The "separate" part of the clause worked fine, but the "equal" never did.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka started as a class-action lawsuit against the Topeka, Kansas board of education. The plaintiffs argued that Plessy v. Ferguson was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which guaranteed equal protection under the law. The suit was…

Sources Used in Documents:


"No Child Left Behind Worsened Education, 48% Of Americans 'Very Familiar' With The Law Say In Gallup Poll," (2012). Huffington Post. Retrieved online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/no-child-left-behind-wors_n_1819877.html

Smith, M.K. (2001). John Dewey. Infed. Retrieved online: http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-dewey.htm

Smith, M.K. (2012). Maria Montessori. Infed. Retrieved online: http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-mont.htm

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