The idea of public education has come to mean various things to many people. What is your concept of it? What images do your students have when “public education” is mentioned? Public schools in England have little in common with their name-sakes in America; more like our private schools, they are exclusive schools which serve to prepare students for important jobs in the government or military, “public” service. Yet the present American idea of publicly supported schools which would teach basic knowledge to future citizens did not exist in our state most of our early history.
This unit is concerned with how education developed throughout the state’s history. The overall goal of the unit is to Provide students with insight into how education has responded to changing conditions. Your students should learn how education affects, and in turn is affected by, the attitudes of the society in which it exists.
The unit is divided into three sections: the colonial era, the 19th century, and the 2Oth century. The sections may be taught together as a two-week unit, or separately in connection with each period as it is covered in traditional American history courses. It may be used for grades eight through ten. However, depending on your desires and the class ability, the unit may be used for a more intense study of Connecticut public education. I have prefaced each section with a general objective which the students should recognize. Following each section are some activities which you nay find useful. Of course, each of us will use this material in the way we feel will be most informative and interesting to the students.