Schooling the Poor: A Social Inquiry into the American Educational Experience

Synopsis

By combining history with sociology, Rothstein presents a new way of looking at state-supported schools. He describes the pauper schools of the early 1800s and shows how they became the foundation for the common schools that followed. Compulsory education sought to alleviate urban crime while assimilating the immigrants who flocked to our shores in each generation. In the late 19th century, the militaristic schools became more bureaucratic and set in their ways in spite of the new thinking in education represented by John Dewey. Rothstein shows how Dewey was taught in college but that Thorndike was followed in the public schools. The high school was an attempt to meet the changing needs of the Industrial Revolution. After recapitulating the foundational history of American public schools, Rothstein examines the psychological effects of martinet teaching methods on students' self-perception and performance. A stunning new (old) perspective on American education.