Segments in this Video

Immigrants and Education (02:38)


The influx of immigrants in the early 1900s accounts for America's urban growth. Three million immigrant children need schools and are pressured to get good educations.

Child Labor (04:21)

By 1910 two million children are working across America. Many children would rather work in factories than go to drafty, crowded schools. Parents lobby against child labor.

Progressive Reform (02:26)

Education involves rigid adherence to decorum and rote learning at the turn of the century. John Dewey attacks the status quo in 1899 and becomes known as a progressive reformer.

Progressive Curriculum (03:17)

The schools of Gary, Indiana reflect the lofty ambitions of the town itself. Immigrants flock to Gary to look for work in the steel mills. Students move from class to class and stay active.

Student Responsibilities (02:24)

Progressive education is designed to capture all of the talents of students and not just their academic talents. The goal is to make every workingman a scholar and every scholar a workingman.

Educational Challenges (03:17)

The Gary, Indiana educational plan is attacked by detractors who maintain the schools only prepare pupils for factories or housework. Students and parents revolt, and the new mayor ends the plan.

Education as Socialization (02:22)

New York schools return to the more traditional system in use since the turn of the century. The idea is to Americanize and socialize immigrant children of diverse linguistic backgrounds.

America at War (04:43)

President Roosevelt insists on English-only education. Christian and secular holidays are celebrated in the schools regardless of the children's ethnic backgrounds.

Career Tracking (03:10)

Schools become more complex and more bureaucratized. A new breed of progressive educators is personified in Elwood P. Cuberly who introduces career tracking.

Intelligence Testing (06:43)

I.Q. tests make their appearance. Social visionaries use them to help America develop into a utopia. Ethnicity is thought to determine intelligence, thereby limiting many opportunities.

Mexican-American Students (03:05)

During and after the Depression, all states require school attendance to age 16. Mexican-American children are judged solely on the basis of their I.Q. tests and are often classified as retarded.

Combatting Ethnic Stereotypes (04:54)

Ethnic minority women are forced into domestic science courses, and boys learn to work with their hands. After WWII millions of students continue to be evaluated by culturally biased tests.

Life-Adjustment Education (05:58)

Educators want to make school relevant to the lives of postwar teenagers. Audio and visual technologies help educators move beyond the basics. Arthur Bestor criticizes progressivism.

Cold War and Sputnik (04:44)

In the climate of Cold War America, right-wing critics blast textbooks for teaching socialism and collectivism. Sputnik changes everything, and schools focus on high-level science and math.

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As American as Public School: 1900–1950

Part of the Series : School: The Story of American Public Education
DVD Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In 1900, 6 percent of America’s children graduated from high school; by 1945, 51 percent graduated and 40 percent went on to college. This program recalls how massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities fueled school attendance and transformed public education. Also explored are the impact of John Dewey’s progressive ideas as well as the effects on students of controversial IQ tests, the "life adjustment" curriculum, and Cold War politics. Interviews with immigrant students, scholars, and administrators provide a portrait of America’s changing educational landscape in the first half of the 20th century. (55 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL11763

ISBN: 978-1-4213-1788-5

Copyright date: ©2000

Closed Captioned

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