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Editorials

Three Legacies of Horace Mann — Part 9 of Stop Stealing Dreams (What is School For?)

by Seth Godin

If you missed Part 8, click HERE.

9. Three legacies of Horace Mann

As superintendent of schools in Massachusetts, Mann basically invented the public school. Except he called it a common school, because a key goal was to involve the common man and raise the standards of the culture. Right from the start:

Building a person’s character was just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. By instilling values such as obedience to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students prepare for future employment.

After a self-financed trip to Prussia, he instituted the paramilitary system of education he found there, a system he wrote up and proselytized to other schools, first in the Northeast U.S. and eventually around the country.

His second legacy was the invention of the “normal school.”

Normal schools were institutes that taught high school students (usually women) the community norms and gave them instruction and power to go work for common schools as teachers, enforcing these norms across the system.

His third legacy, one with which I find no fault, was banning corporal punishment from schools. As further proof that his heart was ultimately in the right place, the man who industrialized the public schools he created left us with this admonition,

…be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

Unfortunately, that part of his curriculum is almost never taught in school.

To be continued …

Or — if you want to read the rest of Godin’s manifesto now — click here: http://tinyurl.com/6n5dz9o

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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