Fifty Years of American Education: A Historical Review and Critical Appraisal

Fifty Years of American Education: A Historical Review and Critical Appraisal

Fifty Years of American Education: A Historical Review and Critical Appraisal

Fifty Years of American Education: A Historical Review and Critical Appraisal

Excerpt

This book was prepared in order to tell the story of the growth of education in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century, a growth that was then more conspicuous than in any other period of the nation's history. Moreover, the history of American education during those decades was a significant part of the progress in economic and industrial, political, and other social developments with which it was closely interwoven.

Changes in the scene between 1900 and 1950 were striking in elementary, secondary, higher, and professional schools, and also in the extension of educational effort which was not commonly accepted when the century began. Elementary education was expanding and becoming more favorably accepted than in any other period since the inception of the universal school, public secondary education was becoming more widespread than in any earlier period, and new opportunities in higher education were little if any less prominent. At the same time, other developments were appearing in directions that were little thought of in 1900. These, which are here set out as faithfully as the records permit, form an extraordinary story of educational growth in a half century that is perhaps unmatched in history.

The chapters that follow undertake to report on and discuss these developments in the United States, which, during the half-century, was a participant in two frightful world wars and underwent a devastating economic depression. In those emergencies, education in this country was confronted with trials and tests of merit to which it had never before been subjected. The story of its fortunes in those crises is a fascinating part of the entire democratic epic of America.

During the half century, education in the United States reached its most lofty quantitative triumphs. In the less easily measurable aspects of American life during that time, there appeared changes which, although perhaps less striking than those in economic, industrial, and educational growth, were nevertheless observable. And unless human experience is strangely misleading, the big task ahead of education during the second half of the twentieth century is to do qualitatively what has been quantitatively done so well ever since 1900.

One of the happy and wholesome parts of the vast educational development during this period was the fact that the American people were apparently becoming more vitally aware of the persistent issues that faced them. As never before, those issues came to be . . .

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