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Inspiring Educators 2: Horace Mann

Inspiring Educators 2: Horace Mann An Article briefly describing the life, work and philosophy of 19th C. politician and educational reformer Horace Mann. Includes professional development prompts to help you enrich your own practice.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Educators

Tags: Horace Mann Reform

Win a Victory for Humanity

Horace Mann CCHorace 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:

" 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.

Horace Mann PD Prompts
The mind of a teacher should migrate into the minds of the pupils to discover what they know, need and feel. How well do we know our pupils?
How do we actively get to know our pupils?
How do we find out how our pupils learn best?
Those who are apt to teach are acquainted with both the common methods and unusual methods and know as many modes as cases that may arise. What methods of traditional, solid, effective practice do we do best?
Which innovative teaching methods do we use most effectively?
What is our balance between the best of old and the best of the new?
Lessons should be adjusted to the capacity of the scholar. How do we differentiate learning?
How do we assess learning?
How do we involve pupils in both?

Related Resources:

Inspiring Educators 1: Charlotte Mason

Inspiring Educators 3: Jerome Bruner

Inspiring Educators 4 - John Dewey


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