American Education



469 BCE - 399 BCE

He created the Socratic method which is the method of learning through dialogue filled with questions and answers in a discussion which helps to lead towards and aid in higher level thinking by way of defending or arguing one idea or viewpoint.


428 BCE - 348 BCE

He provided the structure and/or ideals behind the philosophical principles regarding the philosophy of Idealism. Idealism suggests that the only thing worth knowing is ideas which are within the "two worlds" of either the spiritual/mental world or the world of appearances. This philosophy states that education should help to discover and develop one's abilities and moral code in order to help them better benefit society through the character development via the Socratic method, lectures, and discussion.


384 BCE - 322 BCE

He led a belief of increasing knowledge and reasoning through eight theories which overall is the philosophy of realism. He suggested the way of learning about things through classification of them into categories and examining them individually within their class.

Middle Ages/Medival Time Period

400 - 1500

This cultural time period was more focused on religion and divine rights which led to education at this time to be more of focusing and learning about God, country, and King.

St. Thomas Aquinas

1225 - 1274

He created the belief of Thomism which held the belief that one learns through reason with faith and that education should address both the material and the spiritual.


1301 - 1700

Drastic cultural shift and focus from religion and with focus on God to a focus on self/man, science, art, literature, and government. Education taking this focus as well with less scripture memorization and study and more literature and the arts as a focus.


1517 - 1685

A time in which people called for the change or reform of the current educational system through universal education and/or charity education. There were many organizations that provided for schools in the form of facilities, textbooks, funds, teachers, etc. The drawback was that the philosophical educational beliefs of the donating party were to be followed and/or pushed.

Thomas Jefferson

1588 - 1679

He was the ideology of providing education to everyone and that without education society could not function as a democratic society. He created and ran the first state university, University of Virginia.

John Amos Comenius

1592 - 1671

He held the belief of self-improvement through education as well as suggested the process of education to be one of a more graded order as well as learning through experiences and through one's senses.

Enlightenment Movement

1601 - 1800

Time period in which people thought more highly of science and reason and questioned religious dogmas and the idea of divine rights. This shifted the focus of education to be more secular and to have less of a religious focus.

John Locke

1632 - 1704

Held the belief that we are born with our minds as "blank slates" and that our life's experiences are what teaches us and influence us. He shifted the focus of education to be one more of teaching and learning through doing and experiencing.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

1712 - 1778

He held the belief of freedom for the child's learning and that knowledge was obtained/acquired through a series of developmental stages and through stimulation via learning activities and altering the environment without the need of outside rewards or punishments. The student's learning is led more by the students' own curiosity and inquisitiveness. This philosophy was called naturalism.

Noah Webster

1758 - 1843

Wrote many school textbooks along with the first series of dictionaries. He agreed with the idea of separation of church and state as well as with strict teaching and more of a traditional idea of instruction.

Industrial Revolution

1760 - 1840

Created a rapid improvement and change with regards to technology and science along side with a boom in the population growth all of which led to a drastic cultural change that the education system struggled to keep up with.

Revolutionary War

1775 - 1783

This war led to less of a focus in education in general due to the large demand of soldiers that were needed and more of a focus on survival in general. During this time period, there was a drastic increase in those that were illiterate due to school closings from lack of funds, available teachers, and from British occupancy.

Northwest Ordinance of 1785


This educational act gave the federal government the power to grant federal lands over to the states for educational purposes.

John Dewey

1859 - 1952

He was a prominent founder of pragmatism and instrumentalism/experimentalism which is a system of thought to deal with conflicts in the surrounding cultural environment and a way to bring about the blending and harmony between conflicting beliefs with all of this focusing on the scientific. The learner can learn through problem solving and experiences.

Civil War

1861 - 1865

Many left to join the war efforts-Southern decline in education that lasted for many generations.

Today, there is still a profound gap in minority group achievement scores especially in the South.

Formation of the U.S. Department of Education


This Office of Education has fluctuated throughout the years with both their power and status based on both whatever the current cultural and political climate is at the time.

William C. Bagley

1874 - 1946

He led the philosophical movement called essentialism that focuses more on the intellectual side of education such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, literature, and geography. The movement has more of a focus on the curriculum within the educational levels as well as a preference of learning through observing and the scientific method.

Morrill Act


This act gave the federal government the power to turn over federal lands to the states in order for the creation of universities.

Jean Piaget

1896 - 1980

He was a believer in learning based on the laws of mental development. This "stages of learning" theory is based on organization and adaptation of information through learning tasks.

Plessy vs. Fergusson


This Supreme Court case granted the states the right to have "separate but equal" schools in which black students could be kept separate from white students and be made to go to separate schools as long as the schools were "equal."

Theodore Brameld

1904 - 1987

He was a prominent figure in social reconstruction and believed in a more holistic approach in education and that schools are to help society by improving/generating employment and improving on health, nutrition, medical care, etc. This philosophy is focused on social and economic improvement.

B. F. Skinner

1904 - 1990

He was a leader in the behaviorism movement which was a philosophy of programmed instruction through operant conditioning. Behaviorism is the belief or philosophy that behavior is controlled or affected by the environmental controls and conditions rather than an innate force.

World War 2

1939 - 1945

After this war, there was a period of political and social unrest due to the Communism scare prosecutions/accusations made by Senator McCarthy and others accusing people of being a communist. This led to changes in the educational culture for both the teachers and educational administration and that of the students in them having attitudes of distrust and speculation of those around them and in them acting defiantly American in that people were making sure that they were "looking" American in order to avoid there ever being a chance of being accused of being a communist. There were also "duck and cover drills" that students were practicing regularly during the war and some schools issued dog tags to students.

Civil Rights Movement

1954 - 1968

A call for reform across the nation with regards to unfair treatment of African Americans both in schools as well as in society. Even today, the civil rights battle for educational reform with regards to minority groups still continues.

Brown vs. Board of Education


This Supreme Court case ruled state's separation laws were unconstitutional. The states could no longer separate black students from white students.

Integrated School Reorganization and Busing

1960 - 1980

This was a movement towards integrating African Americans in with white students. School zones were redrawn and busing routes changed in order to more evenly distribute the African American students throughout the school districts. This did not help overall with the treatment and prejudice towards African Americans, but only allowed for a more mixed population within the schools. This also did not help nor change the teaching methods of teachers with regards to the different infusements of cultures and how these cultures react to authority. These things do have a significant impact on students and their education.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965


This act allocated federal funds towards educational materials, resources, and research.

Tenure Attacks

1980 - 1989

Teachers became lax and sometimes inappropriate in their conduct due to their "guaranteed" job status. Many teachers also did not conform or modify their teachings to new methods and procedures due to their benefited tenure status. I do agree that there needs to be tenure for teacher protections such as a districts immediate removal of a teacher just from a parent's threats of suing the school board due to some personal reason or unrealistic expectations as well as for protection from being replaced by someone who has favoritism with a person in authority. I do however see more negative effects from teachers being granted tenure in that they do not always follow rules, fully contribute to the school or to their students, entitled attitudes, etc. I have even seen and read of teachers that were incompetent and abusive in nature, but were still being paid and allowed to keep their jobs due to their tenure. I do not know of a great blend that will benefit all parties involved though.

Alternative Route Teacher Programs

1980 - Present

Alternate route teacher programs were started to help increase the amount of teachers that were available to prevent teacher shortages. These professionals had basic requirements in order to become a teacher such as that they needed to have a bachelor's degree. While in theory, this was a good idea, in practice this produced teachers that did not know of educational teaching practices and methods, they did not have an understanding of children and their psychological, emotional, and mental stages of development, nor were these teachers able to handle those students that had learning difficulties.

A Nation at Risk


A report calling for reform of the current educational system and suggesting more basic courses, more homework, longer school years, more required courses, and better pay for teachers. This report spurned on the country to continue to push for reform of the educational system.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act


This act provides that states must provide free and appropriate education to all students as well as provide for a way for students to qualify and to be provided appropriate services and accommodations under an Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.). Unfortunately, not all of the students that need an I.E.P. are actually qualified for under these requirements. Therefore, they do not receive the needed special needs services and accommodations. I also have witnessed teachers that have not always followed the students' I.E.P.s due to many reasons whether valid ones or otherwise.

No Child Left Behind Act


This act has both negative and positive ramifications for schools depending on whether or not their student scores are within certain required limits. For those schools that are non-compliant for a certain period of time, the government can close and/or take-over these schools. There are funding issues within this act as well as problems with its implications. This act has led to there being more of a focus on students' scores rather than students' actual progress through the materials.

Common Core State Standards


This is an initiative to have states use a uniform and consistent set of curriculum standards to help all of the states progress at the same pace as well as to try to ensure that all of the states are providing the same free and appropriate education to all students. Not all states have adopted these standards. These standards are all a way in which to move the curriculum towards a depth of knowledge and use of this knowledge in order help students to actually learn versus memorize knowledge. There are both pluses and minuses with the standards in that there is not a uniform blueprint on how these standards are to be presented, taught, and tested.