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Education > History of Education

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The Limits of Reform in the Enlightenment

Attitudes Toward the Education of the Lower Classes in Eighteenth-Century France

Harvey Chisick

Examining the attitudes toward the education of the lower classes in eighteenth- century France, Harvey Chisick uncovers severe limitations to enlightened social thought.

Originally published in 1981.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Little Else Than a Memory

Purdue Students Search for the Class of 1904

Completely produced by students in the Purdue University Honors College, this book contains ten essays by undergraduate students of today about their forebears in the class of 1904. Two Purdue faculty members have provided a contextualizing introduction and reflective epilogue. Not only are the biographical essays written by students, but the editing, typesetting, and design of this book were also the work of Purdue freshmen and sophomores, participants in an honors course in publishing who were supervised by the staff of Purdue University Press. Through their individual studies, the authors of the biographies inside this book were led in interesting and very different directions. From a double-name conundrum to intimate connections with their subjects’ kin, their archival research was rife with unexpected twists and turns. Although many differences between modern-day university culture and the campus of 1904 emerge, the similarities were far more profound. Surprising diversity existed even at the dawn of the twentieth century. Students intimately tracked the lives of African Americans, women, farm kids, immigrants, international students, and inner-city teens, all with one thing in common—a Purdue education. This study of Purdue University’s 1904 campus culture and student body gives an insightful look into what the early twentieth-century atmosphere was really like—and it might not be exactly what you’d think.

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The Little White Schoolhouse

Ellis F. Hartford

Few institutions have been held in such fond regard and recalled in such nostalgic terms as the little red schoolhouse. It ranks with the old oaken bucket, the little brown church in the vale, and the pictures of the old home place that millions of people have carried in that "inward eye" mentioned by Wordsworth on that long-past spring day. But the Kentucky common schoolhouses were not painted red as were those of New England; they were mostly white, if not of unpainted log construction.

It was not the simple little boxlike schoolhouse itself that earned all that fond affection. What happened on the way to and from school, on the playground, and within the school walls are all treasured in the memory banks of former pupils in much the same manner as families recall their happy evenings around the fireside or those trips to grandmother's house for Thanksgiving.

But the little white schoolhouse is gone, along with the simple agrarian way of life that characterized the people of the neighborhood to which it belonged. To ensure that this era of education is not forgotten Ellis F. Hartford has presented the history of one-room schoolhouses in the Commonwealth, showing what has been lost in the passing of this institution of the values that best characterized its time and place. Americans might well seek some of the same strengths and values in their diverse communities that were enjoyed by our ancestors of the old rural-agrarian way of life. We might also strive to obtain schools that fit and belong to their respective communities as did the little white schoolhouse.

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Medieval Education

Ronald B. Begley

This volume offers original studies on the subject of medieval education, not only in the formal academicsense typical of schools and universities but also in a broader cultural sense that includes law, liturgy, and the new religious orders of the high Middle Ages. Its essays explore the transmission of knowledge during the middle ages in various kinds of educational communities, including schools, scriptoria, universities, and workshops.

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Mere Equals

The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic

by Lucia McMahon

In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahon's archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women's experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women's intellectual equality and sexual difference.

In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women's labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, "difference" overwhelmed "equality," because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women's rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.

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Merit

The History of a Founding Ideal from the American Revolution to the Twenty-First Century

by Joseph F. Kett

The idea that citizens' advancement should depend exclusively on merit, on qualities that deserve reward rather than on bloodlines or wire-pulling, was among the Founding ideals of the American republic, Joseph F. Kett argues in this provocative and engaging book. Merit's history, he contends, is best understood within the context of its often conflicting interaction with the other ideals of the Founding, equal rights and government by consent. Merit implies difference; equality suggests sameness. By sanctioning selection of those lower down by those higher up, merit potentially conflicts with the republican ideal that citizens consent to the decisions that affect their lives.

In Merit, which traces the history of its subject over three centuries, Kett asserts that Americans have reconciled merit with other principles of the Founding in ways that have shaped their distinctive approach to the grading of public schools, report cards, the forging of workplace hierarchies, employee rating forms, merit systems in government, the selection of officers for the armed forces, and standardized testing for intelligence, character, and vocational interests. Today, the concept of merit is most commonly associated with measures by which it is quantified.

Viewing their merit as an element of their selfhood-essential merit-members of the Founding generation showed no interest in quantitative measurements. Rather, they equated merit with an inner quality that accounted for their achievements and that was best measured by their reputations among their peers. In a republic based on equal rights and consent of the people, however, it became important to establish that merit-based rewards were within the grasp of ordinary Americans. In response, Americans embraced institutional merit in the form of procedures focused on drawing small distinctions among average people. They also developed a penchant for increasing the number of winners in competitions-what Kett calls "selection in" rather than "selection out"-in order to satisfy popular aspirations. Kett argues that values rooted in the Founding of the republic continue to influence Americans' approach to controversies, including those surrounding affirmative action, which involve the ideal of merit.

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Mobility, Elites and Education in French Society of the Second Empire

Based on a unique historical source, this book examines the social origins, career expectations, and first jobs of 28,000 students in the “elitist” French secondary schools of the 1860s. Using sophisticated statistical analysis as well as conventional historical sources, the work concludes that schooling reached a wider audience than has been so far believed and that substantial social mobility occurred within the school system, but that family background, rather than educational factors, directed students’ career aspirations and achievements. It also argues that although education expanded in urban, industrialized areas, mobility did not increase in these areas. A final chapter reconsiders nineteenth–century thought concerning education in the light of findings about the social effects of schools.

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The Modern School Movement

Anarchism and Education in the United States

Paul Avrich

In this comprehensive study of the Modern School movement, Paul Avrich narrates its history, analyzes its successes and failures, and assesses its place in American life. In doing so, he shows how the radical experimentation in art and communal living as well as in education during this period set the precedent for much of the artistic, social, and educational ferment of the 1960's and I970's.

Originally published in 1980.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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More Than Science and Sputnik

The National Defense Education Act of 1958

Sparked by dramatic Soviet achievements, particularly in nuclear technology and the development of the Sputnik space orbiter, the United States responded in the late 1950s with an extraordinary federal investment in education. Designed to overcome a perceived national failure to produce enough qualified scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to compete with the Communist bloc, the effort resulted in the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (NDEA). Representative Carl Elliott and Senator Lister Hill both from Alabama, and then Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Elliot Richardson were the prime movers in shaping of this landmark legislation.

More than Science and Sputnik
 analyzes the papers of the three leaders to describe the political process that established the NDEA.  The book illustrates what the assumptions of the key players were, and why they believed the act was needed.

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Native Students at Work

American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute's Outing Program, 1900-1945

Kevin Whalen. Foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Native Students at Work tells the stories of Native people from around the American Southwest who participated in labor programs at Sherman Institute, a federal Indian boarding school in Riverside, California. The school placed young Native men and women in and around Los Angeles as domestic workers, farmhands, and factory laborers. For the first time, historian Kevin Whalen reveals the challenges these students faced as they left their homes for boarding schools and then endured an "outing program" that aimed to strip them of their identities and cultures by sending them to live and work among non-Native people. Tracing their journeys, Whalen shows how male students faced low pay and grueling conditions on industrial farms near the edge of the city, yet still made more money than they could near their reservations. Similarly, many young women serving as domestic workers in Los Angeles made the best of their situations by tapping into the city’s indigenous social networks and even enrolling in its public schools. As Whalen reveals, despite cruel working conditions and poor treatment, Native people used the outing program to their advantage whenever they could, forming urban indigenous communities and sharing money and knowledge gained in the city with those back home. �

A mostly overlooked chapter in Native American and labor histories, Native Students at Work deepens our understanding of the boarding school experience and sheds further light on Native American participation in the workforce.

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