The Development of Education in the United States: From the 18th to the 21st Century

The Development of Education in the United States: From the 18th to the 21st Century

Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8964-8.ch002
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This chapter is an effort to understand the progression of K-12 public schooling within the United States so that we may then recognize how we will proceed in the digital expansion of this education system going forward into the 21st century. Discourse will address the philosophy, history, curriculum, organization, and responsibility of educators from the late 1700s to the present. Though often rooted in scientific findings or religious dogma, the day-to-day enactment of teaching and learning by educators and students involves continual re-imagining and pragmatic re-configuring to address the challenges of teaching and learning. Understanding the purpose of K-12 public education in the United States within the 21st century model involves the discovery and compilation of several different education interpretations and viewpoints. To understand where the direction of this particular nation's model, it is necessary to understand the direction from where it has come and how past events shaped the present education systems.
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Teaching and learning theories have developed from the work of the psychology, sociology, and education academies. No single theory can account for learning development in humans. An obvious statement, of course, but a declaration which educators need to remind themselves with occasionally. However, theories do provide a common language for the purposes of enquiry, investigation, and implementation. This chapter seeks to make connections between theory development in advancing education priorities and the need for learning networks to associate with earning networks (Davis McGaw, 2019). For a 21st century skillset to be effective a partnership must be firmly established between education and business thereby ensuring economic security for both high school and college post-graduates.

The Introduction discusses the theoretical perspective utilized to create an effective teaching and learning framework. Also presented are several definitions of theory, a review of the different types of theory- including description and range of these types, followed by a table listing prominent education theorists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Background Section contains a discussion of the usefulness and suitability of using theory in developing constructs on learning. Topics on the accountability of learning and teaching and learning as shared work, are discussed.

The Focus of Chapter covers such topics as Teaching and Learning as Shared Work, Shifting Perspectives and Practices as well as Career Readiness and College Readiness the chapter’s case study, Washington State’s K-12 school system’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiative. These career clusters, developed in 1996, by the National Career Clusters Framework, are ‘an organizing tool for curriculum design and instruction’. The clusters were established at the national level by the States' Career Clusters Initiative and are recognizable across the United States in middle schools, high schools, community and technical colleges, and the workforce. The challenges experienced by CTE programs nationwide are addressed in Section VI, the concluding

Theoretical Perspective

According to the University of Southern California’s Research Guide, theories are ‘the conceptual basis for understanding, analyzing, and designing ways to investigate relationships within social systems.’ By articulating theoretical assumptions of a enquiry, researchers can address questions of why and how. Theory guides the transition from describing a phenomenon observed to generalizing about the characteristics of that phenomenon. Education theories range from the traditional, where focus is on lecturing and classroom learning, to the post-modern where the emphasis is placed on schools preparing students for a life outside of the classroom.

The University of Cyprus’ Education Department’s website describes the growth of social and learning theories during the late 19th century to the late 20th century. “Researchers studied learning in terms of memory, memorizing for individual items. It was assumed that understanding simpler forms of learning would lead to understanding of more complex phenomena (2017).” Teachers, in this perspective, were viewed as the authority and knowledge expert. Learning by students occurred through externally constructed concepts. Assessments of students consisted mainly of question and answer; standardized testing, with a letter grading system. In these types of theories, parents and the community existed outside the realm of the learning environment.

Alternatively, progressive education theory places an emphasis on the educational institution occupying an integral, comprehensive part of everyday life. Students, teachers, school administration and personnel are partners in the complete learning process with parents being given the role of the primary teacher as well as an essential resource to the school environment. Here also the community is seen as an extension of the classroom (Pederson & Liu, 2003). Learning is related to central, fundamental questions and investigation is often generated by the learner. Ken Halla, a 24-year veteran high school teacher of history, in Fairfax County, Virginia states, “A student should always know what they have learned and what they haven’t learned. The best way [to assign grades] is the one in which students realize their deficiencies most easily (Long, 2015).” The leaner is at the center of the educational process (Davis-McGaw, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Framework: A set of learning goals providing the framework for all academic learning standards.

Online Collaborative Learning: A blend of constructivism within the environment of the internet; provides a model of learning in which students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge.

Pedagogical Practices: Teaching and learning activities, school wide as well as classroom interactions which support the delivery of content, as well as utilizing various learning theories.

Knowledge Industry: Current education practices which are, or are not, being transformed by knowledge about the efficacy of pedagogical practices.

Career and Technical Education: An applied pedagogy whose purpose is to improve perseverance to graduation, academic development, stronger transitions to postsecondary education.

Shared Learning: An alternative to competition-based models, can be divided into two broad categories, cooperative and collaborative Learning.

Types of Theories: Three levels varying in range of coverage- micro-level, meso-level and macro-level. A comprehensive theory will explain and attempt to make sense of critical processes in research methods utilized to support the interpretations of theoretical structure.

Theoretical Perspective: The conceptual basis for understanding, analyzing, and designing ways to investigate relationships within social systems. Some educators believe theories may propose ways humans learn, however, they do not advise teachers how to teach.

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