Factory Model Education
Our K-12 system still largely adheres to the factory education model of the century-old industrial era. The purpose of the Secular is to reduce the shortcomings of today’s schools — like how they focus too much on memorization or lack essential digital literacy — that can be addressed through new technologies or policies, depending on who is telling the story. The “factory model” is also short for the history of public education itself: the development and change of the school system (or – presumably – its absence).
120 Years of the Same System
Khan’s story bears many features of the fictional history of the last century: buckets, assembly lines, age cohorts, general education, standardization, Prussia, Horace Mann, and a system that has not changed in 120 years. Hans is hardly the only one to tell the story of the “educational model factory” that postulates that the United States adopted the Prussian school system to create a complacent population.
Creation of Public Schools
One side effect of the efforts of Horace Mann and others to create a public education system was that there were very many public schools in the late 19th century. Until the next century, many public schools in the 18th century were supervised by ministers and were free for both male and female students.
The English Teachers College System
By the mid-19th century, public secondary schools began to outnumber private secondary schools. At the time, there weren’t enough educators to deal with America’s booming school system, so some teachers left most of their homework to their students. Eventually, the “student-teacher” was transferred to its own school, which became the English Teachers College system.
Inflow of New Immigrants
By the mid-19th century, the role of New England schools had expanded to the point that they took over many educational tasks traditionally performed by parents. Thanks to the influx of new immigrants and the changing role of secondary schools in education in the 20th century, cities in the Great Plains also saw rapid emergence of higher education. By the early 19th century, a system to deal with this had migrated to the United States and convinced many cities that they could afford a school. In the 19th century, with the emergence of many public schools in the 1840s, public education began to evolve towards the modern system.
The Centralized System of Education
Beginning in 1841 with the Common Schools Act, Egerton Ryerson sought to initiate a unified school system based on the sale of public land with local or municipal councils acting as boards of education. Ryerson borrowed ideas from European and American educators to develop a centralized education system that used property taxes to provide free education.
By the 1860s, as pioneers began to settle on the Great Plains, a school system was established in the United States that was funded by property taxes and provided free education for all children for eight years. After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson argued that this country needed an education system and suggested using tax dollars to fund it.
The Purpose of Public Education
Since then, the purpose, philosophy, and goals of public education have been studied and discussed, leading to the development of the public school system that still exists today. At the time, some states enacted compulsory education laws designed to first shift education from parochial schools to public schools. The Supreme Court then struck down those so-called “compulsory education” laws that required students to attend only public schools. That is, these schools provided an accessible and unified educational model that met the needs of the masses at the time.
The 21st Century Requires Higher Education to Keep Pace
Over the past century, debates about high school education have largely focused on what we teach students (curriculum), ignoring how we design the school itself. Perhaps this is because the educational tools that have entered our classrooms in the last two decades, technological or not, have continued to be used in an almost unchanged school structure since the mid-nineteenth century. As the number of students entering higher education continues to rise, there is a broad consensus that higher education is no longer sufficient for the new demands of the 21st century.
A System That Meets the Needs of Our Time
Educators, parents, business leaders and communities are coming together and we need to provide a radically different educational experience in schools so that all students can become lifelong learners and contribute to the 21st century. Now is the time to boldly reimagine the high school experience, using human-centered design, the latest findings in adolescent neuroscience, and targeted learning to usher in a new era of education that prepares students for the century, not life.
Critics of the standardized curriculum argue that we can change almost everything in the system—schools, teachers, managers and teachers—and still not provide an education that interests our students and deeply engages them in their own learning.
The way we’ll do this is by being creative in how we plan the school day, how we build our learning spaces, how we deliver content and how we build adult roles that are relevant to our students. We do this so well because of the work you do every day. By creating our day based on what we have coming up in the next few hours we leave the classroom excitement there to be desired and we will have a outstanding lesson for everyone to join in on
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