The State of Education.
In the first decade of the twentieth century most American children attended schools for no more than a few years, and from their limited education they and their parents were often content if they acquired only the most rudimentary literacy and numeracy skills. During this time American public education suffered from the fact that more than two-thirds of the nation's schools were rural, one-room schoolhouses—the educational equivalent of the horse and buggy; in these rural schoolhouses teachers who usu-ally had little formal education themselves faced the daunting task of instructing students who ranged in age from five to twenty years old. In the typical classroom, memorization, drill, and recitation were the standard teaching methods. Urban schools, by contrast, were usu-ally age-graded and had a longer school year, and urban schoolchildren sat in classrooms with desks bolted to the floor; but here, too, students memorized assigned pas-sages from textbooks and recited them for their teacher. During the decade 1900 to 1909, these well-worn educational practices, familiar to generations of students, were increasingly attacked by critics who adamantly opposed them; in time, pressured by these critics and by sweeping social forces, most schools across America began a process of dramatic change.
Solution to Social Problems....
(The entire section is 1944 words.)
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