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Horace Mann

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Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 – August 2, 1859) was an American education reformer. As a politician he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833. He served in the Massachusetts Senate from 1834 to 1837. In 1848, after serving as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education since its creation, he was elected to the US House of Representatives.

It was not until he was appointed secretary (1837) of the newly created board of education of Massachusetts (the first such position in the United States) that he began the work which was to place him in the foremost rank of American educationists. He held this position, and worked with a remarkable intensity, holding teachers' conventions, delivering numerous lectures and addresses, carrying on an extensive correspondence, and introducing numerous reforms. By his advocacy of the disuse of corporal punishment in school discipline, he was involved in a controversy with some of the Boston teachers that resulted in the adoption of his views.

In 1838, he founded and edited The Common School Journal. In this journal, Mann targeted the public school and its problems. His six main principles were: (1) the public should no longer remain ignorant; (2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public; (3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds; (4) that this education must be non-sectarian; (5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society; and (6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.

Mann hoped that by bringing all children, of all classes together, they could have a common learning experience. This would also give an opportunity to the less fortunate to advance in the social scale and education would "equalize the conditions of men". Moreover, it was viewed also as a road to social advancement by the early labor movement and as a goal of having common schools. Mann also suggested that by having schools it would help those students who didn't have appropriate discipline in the home. Building a person's character was just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. By instilling values such as obedience to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students prepare for future employment. Mann faced some resistance from parents who didn't want to give up the moral education to teachers and bureaucrats.

The practical result of Mann's work was a revolution in the approach used in the common school system of Massachusetts, which in turn influenced the direction of other states. In carrying out his work, Mann met with bitter opposition by some Boston schoolmasters who strongly disapproved of his innovative pedagogical ideas, and by various religious sectarians, who contended against the exclusion of all sectarian instruction from the schools. He is often called "the father of American public education".

-Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Mann

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