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Win a Victory for Humanity
Horace Mann brings out the maverick in us:
"In carrying out his work, Mann met with bitter opposition by some Boston schoolmasters who strongly disapproved of his innovative pedagogical ideas" (Glen, 1984)
But he also calls us to the highest moral action:
"..be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity" (Mann, 1859)
Born in 1796 into a Massachusetts farming family Mann's early years were necessarily thrifty and largely devoid of schooling. No doubt he developed a gritty determined attitude to life which from 1816 he applied to law, politics and social reform.
In 1837 he was appointed secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education (the first in the US) and embarked on many years of educational research, reform and innovation. He challenged tradition by dedicating himself to publicly funded education - delivered by well-trained professionals - to all and every class of child. He argued against corporal punishment, for women's equality, against slavery and managed to establish non-sectarian classrooms in a fiercely Christian society. Ironically his death, in 1859, was partly attributed to the reaction of sectarians to his joining the Unitarian Church.
It is startling how up-to-date are Mann's ideas. His thinking easily holds its own in 2016 and even points us towards future practice enrichment. Here are several quotations from On the Art of Teaching compiled in 1989 by Applewood Books. Use them as discussion prompts to see how your teaching stacks up with his insights from nearly 150 years ago.
Copyright 2009 Aspiro Education Limited