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Progressive Era - Essay Example

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Progressive Era

As Industrial Revolution receded into the background and new modes of production, manufacturing and economic management models emerged, the socio-economic impact of the period was exposed. Indeed, as argued by Anderson (1974), with all its economic contributions and previously unprecedented productivity and growth, industrialisation had given rise to unemployment, labor unrest and poverty. The working classes, as opposed to the middle and upper socio-economic ones, were the victims of disease and poverty. The wide-scale depression which beset America from 1893 to 1897 only compounded the suffering of this class (Anderson, 1974).
Within the context of the socio-economic conditions outlined in the preceding, there was a lack of appreciation for childhood and education. Rather than be the recipients of steady and stable education, working class children were sent out to work for minimal wages. Their earning, however meagre, were integral to the survival of their families. There was, accordingly, little room for education or the consideration of the value of education, not just to the child but to the country itself.
As the Industrial Revolution passed, implying the evolutio...
The new methods of production had simply eliminated the need for child labor (Anderson, 1974).
At the same time, the era gave rise to an educated, professional middle class. It was largely due to the efforts of this class that the Progressive Era came about. According to Dumenil (1990), as this class looked towards the conditions that the Industrial Revolution had reduced the working class and urban centers to, they saw poverty, slums, crimes, disease and corruption. They also saw a myriad of discriminatory practices, whether class, gender or race discrimination. Not only did this class, the progressives, establish volunteer organizations such as the American Bar Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and National Municipal League, among many others, to address the identified socio-economic problems but they exerted such political pressure as which incited reform. Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal emerged in response to the stated (Dumenil, 1990).
The issues and concerns of the era, whether civil rights, feminism, childhood or poverty, incontrovertibly impacted attitudes towards education. Apart from education being acknowledged as a right which all children should exploit to the fullest, greater focus was placed on the philosophy which informed education. As Roberston (1992) contends, John Dewey developed a philosophy of education which, rather than focus on children's absorption, often memorisation without assimilation, of a wide body of knowledge, emphasised the imperatives of personal growth. Dewey thought that children's freedom should be constructed, that it is not simply a product of their free will. He made a distinction between freedom based entirely on free will (doing whatever one wants ...Show more

Summary

The Progressive Era was one of social, political and economic development and reform. New ideas, considered somewhat revolutionary at the time, were being publicly debated. These included women's rights, social welfare, equality, public political participation, America's role in international affairs and, importantly, education…
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