So what exactly was a “common school”? Back in the 1800’s a man by the name of Horace Mann advocated for this. A common school would be the modern day equivalent of an elementary school. He was a strong supporter of everyone having the access to an education, no matter how rich or poor they really were. Thus Horace Mann is often known as the “father of the public school”. One of the main reasons for his push towards public education for all was that he felt that the economy would become more productive if there were more skilled workers. His hope was to find and nurture the talents of all children and he sought to close the gap between the rich and the poor. One of the most important things that Horace Mann is known for is for light the spark about the role of religion in school.
We would not think twice about having the right to a free and public education today. But a public education was not a reality like it is now back in the 1800’s. The major groups who fought against the public school movement were powerful business men and many taxpayers also opposed the public school movement. The private religious schools also opposed the idea of public schools.
Not only did Horace Mann advocate for public schools, he also advocated for schools that were better built and teachers who were more prepared and trained. As a result of these efforts by Horace Mann, several “normal schools” were founded. The purpose of these schools was to train teachers in pedagogy and show that positive ways to motivate students rather than using punishment. Mann was a true pioneer for better education systems in the United States, and who knows if our educational system would be where it is right now if it wasn’t for all of his efforts.