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Analysis of 'Schooled to Order' by David Nasaw (Other (Not Listed) Sample)


understanding the causes of social ills in the American society led to historians trace it to the schooling system 'schooled to order' analyses the root causes of ills such as inequality, drug abuse and poverty. in this sample, we look at the argument posited by nasaw where he makes a comprehensive summary of the history of America education which he considers revisionist in nature.

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Analysis of Schooled to Order by David Nasaw
The history of schooling in America has attracted intense debate in the last one decade. Many historians, however, sing praises to the emergence and rise free, democratic and universal schooling. However, some historians, in attempt to discover the source of many American ills such as inequality, drugs and poverty have examined the role of school in causing or not preventing such ills. One of the historians that have taken such a revisionist approach to the study of the history of American schooling is David Nasaw. In the book titled “Schooled to Order” Nasaw makes a comprehensive summary of the history of America education which he considers revisionist in nature. Nasaw makes a radical departure from the conventional celebratory approach to public education and takes issue with the common claim that education was aimed at promotion of upward social mobility and creation of human capital (Butchart 79). He also dismisses the claim that education in America was an equalizing force that prevented accumulation of financial and institutional advantages to some people without benefiting others. According to him, public education is shaped by cultural homogeneity. Throughout this book, he majors on the continuous tension within the education system that exists between inequality in social order and the democratic pressures for equal outcomes.
The themes of this book are presented in three particular periods of American history in relation to public schooling. Each of the three sections of the book is an analysis of one schooling segment that was dominant at a particular time in history. The first is the rise of common schooling in the mid 19th century that sparked a radical shift from community and family schools to the state as the main guardians of the young people. The second is the spread of comprehensive high school education in the early 20th century which was almost everything to the students. The third is the emergence of higher education after the Second World War which increased the role of the state in the manipulation of the young. According to Nasaw, each layer of schooling failed in a certain way. However, he ignores these failures and focuses on the role of schooling in preservation of social peace and prosperity within the context of privately owned property and the government structures that support that property.
Nasaw emphasizes that in each period, youths were subjected to education with a view of maintaining social order. Before the American civil war, elementary schools underwent reforms and children of ordinary people gained access to the schooling system. After the Second World War, further reforms took place in tertiary institutions of learning. Minority races were given permission to study with the whites even though there was rampant discrimination on the basis of race, sex and class. During all these periods, the reforms increased the number of students attending various educational institutions. Common schools were given the role of imparting morals unto children and the youth of artisans and farmers that had completely failed in that role. Such children would be removed from their poverty-stricken families and be placed in institutions where they were controlled the whole day to ensure they did not get corrupted. This also happened to delinquents and orphans. Such schools would be given the most undisciplined children, and there were many suchlike children in the society. High schools were also used as means of preparing young people from poor backgrounds and immigrant teenagers for life in the city and also factory life in preparation for their future in employment. Cases of indiscipline were not only rampant among children but also among the youth. Most young people needed guidance in their teenage. There was a lot of social criticism leveled against them because they would roam in the streets, get disorderly and stay out in the night. This was especially true for the Native American youths. Rapid industrialization had led to decrease in the number of skilled jobs. Therefore, the government created reforms that would ensure that all American youths were accepted into the education system so that they can gain necessary skills to function effectively in the factories and the cities (Nasaw 94).
From an economic perspective, the immigrants were suffering from poverty and their youths had to be trained to help their parents when they get employed. Social inequality was very dominant in the American society. Youths that were working that time did not want vocation programs anymore. They were fighting to gain access to colleges and universities. Non-whites were also fighting for equal treatment and opportunity in schools. This had led to a subservient educational system due to the compromise brought about by the dominant class.
Institutions of higher learning that were expanded after the second world war were given the role of preparing youths for white-collar jobs and also deal with runaway unemployment rates. According to Nasaw, all the schools, right from the common high schools, universities, and colleges were expanded with a view of maintaining social order and increasing material productivity. However, all these anticipated outcomes of reformation of the education system were not realized fully due uncontrollable industrialization and urbanization with respect to ownership of private property. He asserts that in the long run, the reforms succeeded in moving the focus of debate from productive and social system to those accused of not fitting into the system. Nasaw explains instances when federal aid to tertiary education all came as responses to situations that posed potential danger to the government or that promised to be beneficial to the government and the interests it protects. He argues that the open admission policy that encouraged many students to enroll in community or junior collages was a trick used to make people believe that they had been granted equal access to tertiary education. In real sense, they were being made to believe that they were to blame for their low levels of achievement, therefore shifting the blame from a dysfunctional system.
This book is a historical-educational masterpiece that tells a story that many educational historians have failed to document in their past works. The periods that Nasaw presents are very important in the history of American education system because they were major turning points. Nasaw also constructively documents the role of these reforms in the American political sphere, arguing that they are the foundations of the strong democratic structures and political maturity existing in America today. The most interesting part of the book is towards the end where he asserts that public schools neither belonged to the state nor to the communit...
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