EDU 6120: Module 5

Search for Meaning” Reflection on the EDU 6120 Module 5

“American Education” Lecture given by Arthur K. Ellis

“Education in America”

Known as the father of the American common school movement, Horace Mann’s dream for American education, as described by Arthur Ellis (2010) was: “….universal, popular education….sustained by an interested public….embracing children of all religious, social and ethnic backgrounds….moral in character….permeated throughout by the spirit, methods and discipline of a free society….provided only by well-trained, professional teachers”. The lecture and readings on the history of education in America provided a wonderful overview of information I had learned as an undergraduate as well as the same “broad brush strokes” picture of the more recent decades that I have experienced as an educator.

From a personal vantage point, having spent a significant amount of time researching my own family history–tracing back to 1425 in England–I have found this week’s readings to be most meaningful.  I have enjoyed visualizing my ancestors living through the time periods of Colonial American education in the 1600’s—as described in the section, “A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher”, through the period of the education ordinances of the late 1700s, and then at the time of the opening of “the first state-supported normal school for the training of teachers…in 1839 in Lexington, Massachusetts, by the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Horace Mann” (Ellis).

Imagining the “lives behind the scenes” of American educators is not difficult for me. My aunt and uncle were the first students to graduate from Seattle Pacific’s Normal School in 1921. Their diplomas are written on authentic “sheepskins” and are located in the SPU archives. C. Hoyt Watson, my grandfather, was Seattle Pacific College’s third president from 1926 to 1959. My mom graduated from Seattle Pacific College in 1937 and ventured out to teach in a two-room school house in a rural Washington community. My uncle was dean of the Department of Education at SPC for a number of years. Numerous members of my extended family have served, or are serving– as teachers, principals, and even superintendents–after having earned degrees in education through Seattle Pacific. I am fortunate to have known each of these individuals—face to face–heart to heart. Although many are no longer living, a sense of their “history in education” has been woven into the fabric of my individual life.

The course readings for this week which trace highlights of “The Contemporary Period: 1920—Present”, include not only my K-12 education in the 1960’s and 70’s, but also the first three decades of my teaching experience. Perhaps some might consider these reflections of such a personal nature as a bit “myopic”, however–on the contrary, I believe the influence of my heritage continues to provide a foundation on which to build my own basis for involvement in the education system of America today. The condensed review of hundreds of years of educational development and change–provides a broad backdrop which allows me to place my personal experience in proper perspective.

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