Old School

Image from page 58 of "Textile school catalog, 1899-1900" (1899)The education system as we know it is only about 200 years old. Before that, formal education was mostly reserved for the elite. But as industrialization changed the way we work, it created the need for universal schooling.

Factory owners required a docile, agreeable workers who would show up on time and do what their managers told them. Sitting in a classroom all day with a teacher was good training for that. Early industrialists were instrumental, then, in creating and promoting universal education. Now that we are moving into a new, post-industrial era, it is worth reflecting on how our education evolved to suit factory work, and if this model still makes sense.

Allison Schrager

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