GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2001-01 > 0979164399
Subject: [GM-L] Horace Mann, "Father of American Education b. in Franklin, MA 1796
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 17:06:39 EST
" The Father of American Education"," Horace Mann, was born in Franklin,
Massachusetts, in 1796. Mann's schooling consisted only of brief and erratic
periods of eight to ten weeks a year. Mann educated himself by reading
ponderous volumes of the Franklin Town Library. This self education, combined
with the fruits of a brief period of study with an intinerant school master,
was sufficient to gain him admission to the sophomore class of Brown
University in 1816" (4,Cremin). He went on to study law at Litchfield Law
School and finally received admission to the bar in 1823 (15, Filler). In the
year 1827 Mann won a seat in the state legislature and in 1833 ran for State
Senate and won." Throughout these years Horace Mann maintained a thriving law
practice, first in Dedham and later in Boston" (5, Cremin).
" Of the many causes dear to Mann's heart, non was closer than the education
of the people. He held a keen interest in school policy. April 20, 1837, Mann
left his law practice and accepted the post of the newly founded Secretary of
Education" (6, Cremin). During his years as Secretary of Education Mann
published twelve annual reports on aspects of his work and programs, and the
integral relationship between education, freedom, and Republican government.
He wanted a school that would be available and equal for all, part of the
birth-right of every American child, to be for rich and poor alike. Mann had
found "social harmony" to be his primary goal of the school. (8, Cremin).
Horace Mann felt that a common school would be the "great equalizer." Poverty
would most assuredly disappear as a broadened popular intelligence tapped new
treasures of natural and material wealth. He felt that through education
crime would decline sharply as would a host of moral vices like violence and
fraud. In sum, there was no end to the social good which might be derived
from a common school (8, Cremin).
"What is most important about Mann's view of the common school is that he saw
in it an educational purpose truly common to all" (12, Cremin). As Secretary
of the Board of Education, Mann presided over the establishment of the first
public normal school in the United States at Lexington in 1839. Mann also
reinvigorated the 1827 law establishing high schools, and fifty high schools
were created during his tenure. He also persuaded the Massachusetts
legislature to establish a six month minimum school year in 1839 (15,
Filler). Mann also led the movement to set up teacher institutions throughout
the state (21, Cremin).