Monday, January 12, 2015

Education Reform: Horace Mann

Horace Mann and the Education Reform

Horace Mann had a lot to do with the 19th century Education Reform. He was elected the first secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. The following is an excerpt from the Twelfth Annual Report of Horace Mann as Secretary of Massachusetts State Board of Education, in 1848. 
"Now surely nothing but universal education can counterwork this tendency to the domination of capital and the servility of labor. If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called: the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former. But, if education be equally diffused, it will draw property after it by the strongest of all attractions; for such a thing never did happen, and never can happen, as that an intelligent and practical body of men should be permanently poor. Property and labor in different classes are essentially antagonistic; but property and labor in the same class are essentially fraternal. The people of Massachusetts have, in some degree, appreciated the truth that the unexampled prosperity of the State -- its comfort, its competence, its general intelligence and virtue -- is attributable to the education, more or less perfect, which all its people have received; but are they sensible of a fact equally important,— namely, that it is to this same education that two-thirds of the people are indebted for not being to-day the vassals of as severe a tyranny, in the form of capital, as the lower classes of Europe are bound to in any form of brute force?
Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men,—the balance wheel of the social machinery. I do not here mean that it so elevates the moral nature as to make men disdain and abhor the oppression of their fellow men. This idea pertains to another of its attributes. But I mean that it gives each man the independence and the means by which he can resist the selfishness of other men. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich: it prevents being poor. Agrarianism is the revenge of poverty against wealth. The wanton destruction of the property of others -- the burning of hay-ricks, and corn-ricks, the demolition of machinery because it supersedes hand-labor, the sprinkling of vitriol on rich dresses -- is only agrarianism run mad. Education prevents both the revenge and the madness. On the other hand, a fellow-feeling for one's class or caste is the common instinct of hearts not wholly sunk in selfish regard for a person or for a family. The spread of education, by enlarging the cultivated class or caste, will open a wider area over which the social feelings will expand; and, if this education should be universal and complete, it would do more than all things else to obliterate factitious distinctions in society.. .. "

Source: Mann, Horace. "HORACE MANN ON EDUCATION AND NATIONAL WELFARE 1848, Hosted by TnCrimLaw." HORACE MANN ON EDUCATION AND NATIONAL WELFARE 1848, Hosted by TnCrimLaw. Accessed January 12, 2015.

Analyzing the Excerpt

This source is very trustworthy, considering it is Mann himself speaking about his reform. This excerpt truly taught me a lot about Mann's beliefs. Even though I already knew he believed everyone should get a good education, it was interesting to see him relate education to social classes and democracy. It was clear he was trying to show that the wealthy shouldn't just have it all. There should not be only one class that "possesses all the wealth and education". He goes on to explain that education should be diffused (spread out) across all classes to make it equal and possible for children to get educations. I agree with him on the point that those of lower classes could contribute a lot of their intelligence to society if they had the chance to. Mann explains that intelligence does not just simply make someone a better person than someone else, but it makes people more independent and selfless. The overall idea of this excerpt teaches me that a lot of people probably disagreed with Horace Mann and thought public education for everyone was a peculiar idea, but once he stated the reasons more and more people agreed. Thanks to his help, the state of Massachusetts started providing better education to its students.