What were the main types of schools in rural and urban America in the early national period? How...


During the early national period (1780s-1820s), students were often educated in a range of schools. What were the main types of schools in rural and urban America? Why did reformers in the antebellum period (1830-1850) believe pupils should enroll in a more uniform public school system?

Antebellum Reform:

In the early national period, a religious movement called the Second Great Awakening set off a flurry of reform across the United States. Reformers sought to make changes to every area of life, and crafted movements for things like educational reform and the abolishing of slavery.

Answer and Explanation:

In the early national period, students were educated in different ways depending on their income level and where they lived. Most early learning was done at home, where parents passed on basic reading and writing skills to their children. In places like New England, private boys' schools were established, which would prepare wealthy students for admission to places like Harvard or Yale. Sometimes communities would establish schools to teach basic subjects, or parents would hire a teacher for their children (a practice common in Southern states). These schools were almost all for boys; girls, when they went to school at all, were educated at 'dame schools,' which did not teach the same rigorous curriculum as boys' schools.

Educational reformers thought that the United States should have a system of free public schooling, and they pushed for this throughout the early 1800s. They thought that this access to education would produce more literate and informed citizens and promote a stronger democracy. The most famous educational reformer of this period was Horace Mann, who essentially set up a public school system in Massachusetts in the 1830s and 1840s that became a model for the rest of the country.

Learn more about this topic:

Education in Early America: Birth of Public Schools and Universities

from History 103: US History I

Chapter 6 / Lesson 10

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