Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann’s Educational Influence
Week 3 Summary 2
Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann’s Educational Influence
Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann had a large influence into our educational foundation. They fought for and persuaded many people into believing education was needed for all citizens. They also believed in separation of church and state. In this paper I will summarize each individuals influence on education as well as separation of church and state.
Thomas Jefferson is best known for the Declaration of Independence. He had many skills under his belt, but was also known as a strong supporter of religious freedom and a major advocate for elementary and secondary public schools. He felt there was more to education then a religious base. He was an “enlightenment theorist trying to discover and to explain how the universe functioned” (Gutek, 2013, pg 181). Jefferson felt “human reason rather than divine revelation was the key to understanding the world” (Gutek, 2013, pg 181). He felt education contributes to both the knowledge and virtues that form a self governing citizen. He proposed a bill in Virginia for “a state system of elementary and secondary schools” (Gutek, 2013, pg 193).This would allow all children the chance to learn how to read, write and basic math skills. This proposal was called “the more general diffusion of Knowledge” it was more of an effort to create the educational means to enlighten and politically free people” (Gutek, 2013, pg 196). He knew that with these skills a child will grow to be a citizen who can express and preserve his or h ideas and beliefs. Jefferson viewed this education as an instrumental to securing ” life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”(Gutek, 2013, pg 184). Thomas Jefferson was a great man with great ideas with all concerns for the citizens. He wanted the citizens to be the best they could be.
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Although Thomas Jefferson was the creator of the Declaration of Independence and he will be remembered for this far into the future. The man responsible for mainstreaming the education is Horace Mann. He too wanted a “schooling that would prepare citizens to participate in elections, serve, be on juries and contribute to a public opinion” (Gutek, 2013, pg 224). Mann was a ” vigorous supporter of the legislation that passed “An Act Relating to Common Schools” in 1837″(Gutek, 2013, pg 234). Mann was such a great supporter of education that he left the political life and became the first school administrator “(Gutek, 2013, pg 234). His experience as a politician and lawyer helped in taking on his new role in the schools. He wanted schools to be run professionally and dominantly protestant. He wanted schools to not be exclusively academic, he wanted them to help young children with morals and ethics.
Thomas and Mann also had opinions in regards to separation of church and state. Not only does it deal with Church and state separation it is now well known for separation of church and schools.
“Thomas Jefferson was successful in securing state level separation of church and state in Virginia in 1786. He felt that enforcing religious beliefs on one person interferes with their pursuit on freedom. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold the concept of separation between church and state and between the church and public education” (Gutek, 2013, pg 190).
Mann on the other hand wanted there to be a main belief and devotion to protestant principles. This was very controversial since it went against separation of church and state. He felt that many would agree that teaching good virtues and morals to children in order to create
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responsible members of society was an admirable goal. At this time the majority of citizens were Protestant so he had a great deal of supporters. Even though he had a large support group he still had a few that opposed his idea. This was the Catholic churches, and with their disagreement they began their own private schools.
To this day their are a lot of private and public schools. I of course have my own opinion on this matter. I would have to agree with Mann’s idea. I feel that teaching your child values and morals, is a key aspect of life. I want my children to learn good values and morals, children today lack them if they aren’t getting them at home. I know when I was in school, we were able to pray or speak of our religion without being concerned of offending another person. Now working in the school, you alway have to watch what you say and to whom you say it to. God, needs to be in our schools. There has been so many tragic school shootings, that I strongly believe if God was brought back into our schools, they would be shielded by God’s protection. A lot of students lack the guidance God gives you. Even values and what is right and wrong is now nonexistent. So many teachers are afraid to say anything due to parents now coming in and defending their child. They fear for their jobs and families. This should not be. If we instilled, God, faith, family, love, values, and morals into our children from home to schools there would be a world of difference in our society today. I myself have a hard time separating my God from my daily life. I am who God made me. My values, religion and morals make me the person I am today. I do not feel religion should be forced on you. I do believe in “In God We Trust” needs to be brought back in to everyday life. Education and religion are truly very strong influences needed in young minds today. With God in our lives the sky’s the limit.
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Gutek, G. L. (2013). Historical and philosophical foundations of education: A biographical introduction. New York: Pearson.