E.D. Hirsch: The Schools We Need

During this module regarding what knoweldge is most important we read E.D. Hirsch’s The School We Need. While reading this selection I learned that American education is amont the least effective education systems in the developed world. There have been many attempts to recreate the same strategies that are in place, instead of revamping the entire education system altogether. Hirsch discusses the many differences conservative and progressive labels by which educational ideas are catagorized. Many parents scoff at the idea of traditional schooling because it brings to mind images of a static religious institution. Hirsch maintains that traditional schooling also means challenging subject matter and knowledge-based education. Another point that Hirsch makes is that traditional instruction imposes the same content on every student without regard to each student’s individual needs. Modern education emphasizes more one-on-one instruction in the classroom. Hirsch maintains that while one-on-one time is important, while a teacher is involved with only one student, it leaves the rest of the class completely alone. By doing more whole group instruction students are engaged in learning for a larger percentage of the time and are ignored less.

These are just a few of the insights on modern American education I learned from the reading by E.D. Hirsch.

John Dewey- My Pedagogic Creed


  • Education is the socialization of children
  • School is an active representation of society in a child’s life that eases them into the world.
  • A teacher’s role is to assistant students in properly responding to outside influences and not to impose their own ideas.
  • The strict study of science leaves out the most important factor in education, human activity and socializing.
  • Literature is the expression and interpretation of the social experience.
  • Science should be studied as a way to more effectively regulate past experience and not as new subject matter altogether.
  • The process and goal of education are one in the same.


  • Dewey’s views on merging of the social and psychological elements of education.
  • To make the study of science the focal point of work would be to introduce the principle of radiation rather than one of concentration.


In John Dewey’s My Pedagogic Creed he discusses his views on what education is, what school is, the subject matter of education, the nature of educational method, and the school and social progress. In this creed Dewey makes many profound points that still remain relevant today. He believes that education is the act of socializing students to our society and that education should be viewed as an on-going process instead of a destination. I have reviewed this creed in many education classes and continue to enjoy Dewey’s firm beliefs regarding education. I do stumble across a few unclear areas such as his views on science implementation in the classroom and how social and psychological elements merge to create a well-rounded education. None the less, I remain clear on Dewey’s main points and am able to enjoy completely the high standards for education set forth by John Dewey in 1897.

American Education: Horace Mann

American Education: Horace Mann and the Common School Movement


This week’s lecture and reading touched on the life of Horace Mann and his contributions to American Education. According to Historical Perspectives: Education in America chapter, Mann had many accomplishments, all contributing to his title of the Father of American public school education. Mann helped popularize the idea of a universal and free education as well as making great strides in increasing appropriations for schools and teachers’ salaries. As I am reading through all of his accomplishments as well as those made by many other contributors to American education I keep wonder what my life would be like now had these large strides never have taken place.

Americans have begun to think of modern education as traditional and timeless; something our fathers before us had experienced, a right of passage. Horace Mann did not initiate the first Board of Education until 1837 and it was not until 1918 that the National Education Associate established guidelines for secondary schools. The idea of post grammar school as a compulsory and the need to attend college is incredibly modern. Public education is constantly under a microscope with many different groups examining its effectiveness. We have done away with practices such as segregation in schools and implemented special education and standardized tests. American public education has come a long way in the short time it has existed. I have taken this time to reflect as a teacher on where education has come from and where it can go from here. I firmly believe that education today is the best education American children have ever received. Students have access to so many resources and with the internet they can have their questions answered in an instant. With all of these opportunities and forward steps taken in public schools there are definitely some drawbacks. Standardizes test are beginning to create stressed out elementary schoolers who are far too concerned about their academic success than one should be at 7. There is also a great deal of pressure put on teachers to produce successful students in their classrooms. New rules and regulations are put into effect constantly and are often hard to keep up with.  I have taken note of the ever evolving classroom I work in and take solace in the idea that if just one man, Horace Mann, can change the face of education so drastically, there is a large chance that someone else will come along and make major improvements upon it once again. Looking back at practices that were in place before Mann’s time, such as the mistreatment of teachers who were untrained, I wonder in a hundred years how will history reflect on our time as teachers? What will the text books say about teachers in the early 21st century?

European Educational Ideas

           This week’s lecture on Ideas in European Education brought forth many educational ideas that many of us take for granted. I was struck by the number of ideas Ellis listed that I had not previously considered as having a source, they just seemed to be. For example in the lecture Ellis discusses how during the Romantic Movement Rousseau essentially invented the idea of childhood. Also he mentions that during this time it was discovered that children learn differently than adults as they do not have the benefit of experience as adults do. I was shocked by the idea that childhood was once nonexistent and is a relatively new concept. Most people in a western society today view childhood as a God given right that absolutely should be cherished and preserved. As Americans we have a tendency to forget the past and never seem to look back at how far we have truly come. So often teachers, administers, and government officials can be seen arguing over such minute details as the format of a standardized test or the type of math program implemented in second grade. This lecture and reading has given me pause and helped me to appreciate the origin of the most basic ideas that take place within my school.

Ellis, A. K. (Performer) (2007, November 3). Ideas in European education. [Audio podcast].