Week 4: Industrialization, “Science,” and the Progressive Era

This week we transition from the foundations of the Common School Era to explore ideas that has further shaped modern US American culture and schooling. Tozer, Senese, and Violas (2013) provide an introductory overview:

“Major political-economic changes included the emergence of a largely urban society, immigration from new sources in Asia and southern and eastern Europe, and far-reaching developments in industrialization and monopoly capitalism. Ideologically, classical liberalism was transformed by political, economic, and intellectual developments into a new form of liberalism termed ‘new,’ ‘modern,’ or ‘corporate’ liberalism. This revised liberalism maintained commitments to scientific rationality, progress, and freedom but transformed those commitments to be consistent with the needs of the emerging leaders of government and business” (p. 82).During the 1870s – 1920s, the structures of schooling as society undertook major transformations.

When exploring this weeks material, please think about how the following changed:

1) Who was required to attend schools during the Progressive Era? What was different and why?

2) What were the changes in curricula? Why do you think these changes occured?

3) What was the impact on ‘extracurriculars’?

4) What impacted the shift in control of schools (from local neighborhoods to centralized school boards)?

5) Who were the typical members of school boards? What impact can a school board member have?

The content pages cover some basic terminology and ideas for this week. Please triangulate your personal experiences, the ideas explored in the expected readings for this module, and the ideas explored in the material in the content pages to further our conversations about society and education.

We plan to:

? Explore ideas about Industrialization;

? Explore ideas about “Science”;

? Explore ideas about the Progressive Era.

Module 4: The Progressive Era

As mentioned in our introduction to this module, the late 1800s and early 1900s was a time of major transition in the United States. The impact of industrialization transformed major social programs in the United States. The progressive era saw major changes in urbanization, immigration, and industry. The following video provides an overview of education during the progressive era. Our readings for this week will challenge us to think deeply about the transition to the progressive era and out of the progressive era. It is important to zone in on the ‘new liberal ideology’ that emphasized natural law, scientific rationality, rational ethics, progress, nationalism, freedom, and psychology.

Urbanization and Immigration

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw an influx of urbanization and immigration. The United States was in transition from a mostly agrarian, rural society to a more urban and industrial society.

What issues do you think the United States was faced with during this mass transition?

Urban areas were challenged to develop structures to support mass migration and immigration. There was intense struggle for basic resources such as housing, food, and water. Cities were faced with emergent issues concerning sanitary systems, employment, and large scaled poverty. The intensity of this social and cultural transition impacted the level of trust (or mistrust) amongst urbanites, migrants, and immigrants. It should be noted that most immigrants during this time were from Europe similarly to the mass immigration during the mid-19th century. However, during the 19th century most immigrants were mostly from northern and western Europe. The early 20th century immigrants were mostly from southern and eastern Europe including nearly two million Jews (Tozer, Senese, & Violas, 2013).

What issues might your family have faced during the industrial period?

How has these issues impacted your current social location?

According to Tozer, Senese, & Violas (2013), the late 19th and early 20th centuries were influenced by:

1) Transition from “selective” free immigration, the U.S. passed:

a. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882;

b. Strict national quotas were passed in 1924 and 1929;

2) Symbolizing “freedom for immigrants,” the Statue of Liberty was erected (p. 88);

3) ‘Scientific’ arguments emerged to demean certain racial/ethnic groups;

4) Anti-Immigrant groups emerged to restrict immigrants (primarily via literacy tests);

a. Immigrant Restrictive League;

b. Ku Klux Klan;

5) KKK grew to over 2 million;

a. Subscribed heavily to eugenics;


Spring, J. (2014). The American school: A global context from the puritans to the Obama administration (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Tozer, S., Senese, G., & Violas, P. C. (2013). School and society: Historical and contemporary perspectives (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Module 4: Industrialization

What comes to mind when you think of industrialization? For me, I believe that I have been trained to think about a very important time in US history, The Industrial Revolution. Would it be possible that industrialization could be a common term for schooling? Why or Why not?

The media clip below provide a very brief overview of a very intense time in the United States. After watching the video and reading this weeks material, you should be able to connect ideas about the social formation of modern schooling. How does ideas such as ‘social efficiency’, ‘classroom management’, and our current structure of schooling connect to The Industrial Revolution?

Industrial Revolution Media Clip: Please copy the following link into your web browser if clip does not play: http://youtu.be/7Cvofeaj0y0

The American Industrial Revolution

Tozer, Senese, & Violas (2013) suggests that there are three key social and cultural transformations that occurred during industrialization. The first was the transition from “skilled artisanship to monopoly capital” (p. 91). Ultimately everything was in place for mass production due to “abundant natural resources, cheap energy, and cheap, mobile labor” (p. 91). Also, communication and transit systems were more sophisticated. With everything in place, the second key transformation was in place, Taylorization. Taylorization is a form of scientific management introduced to industry and other aspects of US American life. Frederick Taylors approach to management was to break production into “simple moves that an unskilled person could be taught in a short period of time” (p. 91). This process is also known as “deskilling.”

What impact does “deskilling” have on the workforce?

To what extent (if any) has “deskilling” occurred in teaching and/or schooling?

Taylors’ ultimate claim was that “goods can be produced more cheaply, workers received higher wages, and total output increases (p. 92). While workers did receive a 60% increase, production increased by over 400% (Tozer, Senese, & Violas, 2013).

What impact did Taylorization have on workers satisfaction/dissatisfaction?

The third development was the significance for women and office work. “As urbanization and industrialization increased in the 19th century, and as people left the countryside for the city, the home became less a place of production and more a place of consumption only” (p. 92). Therefore, women became critical to the production of goods, services, and capital (income). Prior to industrialization and scientific management, there were five primary areas that women were employed: agriculture, domestic service, teaching, nursing, and manufacturing. By 1920, the four major job categories employing women were: “agricultural (reduced from pre 1920), domestic service, office work, and manufacturing” (p. 93). Scientific management created the need for “elaborate systems of planning, monitoring, and reporting had to be established, systems that required a great deal of paperwork” (p. 93).

What opportunities for job promotion might a female office worker be provided during the early 1900’s?

What were the social expectations for women employed in the four major job categories above?


Spring, J. (2014). The American school: A global context from the puritans to the Obama administration (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Tozer, S., Senese, G., & Violas, P. C. (2013). School and society: Historical and contemporary perspectives (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Module 4: “Perspectives of Ideology”

The idea of ‘science’ will be a theme that we will explore over the next few weeks. The progressive era saw an emphasis on Scientfic Rationality and New Psychology (or scientific psychology). During this time, there was a desire to scientifically explore human reason, diverse groups, and the environment. From this, a new belief that scientifically trained expertise was needed for social progress. While reading this week’s material, please begin to construct a personal meaning of ‘science’ or ‘scientific justifications’. We will examine this further in the coming weeks.

Tozer, Senese, & Violas (2013) provide an overview of some key beliefs that influenced the progressive era. Please see below:

New beliefs replaced classic liberal understandings in light of a changing, complex, urban, industrial society. The fundamental beliefs and commitments remained, but were very much influenced and modified in response to the new political and social conditions, as well as to new scientific findings.

Natural Law

The progressive era was heavily influenced by the idea of the evolution of truth. In the past, truth could be seen as a standard and unchanging. However, with the influence of Darwin, truth now could be seen as evolving. What’s true today may be see as false tomorrow. This challenged society to question absolute certainty. During this transition, truth would be seen only as true as the methods and evidence suggested. This added affirmation of scientific rationality.

Scientific Rationality

Whereas Jefferson had faith in the common person’s ability to reason, the modern liberal believed that scientific methods must be followed in order to arrive at reasonable conclusions. The modern liberal believed that experts must be the ones to achieve reason. Darwin greatly influenced this belief with his research that suggested that different races were at different levels of evolution and the less evolved were less able to reason. Modern liberals therefore started to distrust the ability of the masses to reason and to arrive at valid conclusions.

From Virtue to Rational Ethics

The classic liberal believed in absolute truth. Darwinian beliefs challenged the classic liberal’s understanding of absolute truth. Darwinian beliefs suggested that as society changed, so did what was considered to be moral. “Virtue” was replaced by “good”, and what was considered good was determined by experts, and could change over time.


Jefferson believed that human progress was inevitable, that even rebellion against tyranny was a means to achieve progress. He held these beliefs because he trusted in human reason to overpower basic human tendencies. The new liberals believed, however, that human reason could not be trusted, and that if human progress was going to happen then scientific human rationality must be used. They believed that governance must be trusted to scientifically trained experts, and that rebellion was viewed as a failure of the rational process.


Classical liberals feared to identify with the nation too strongly because of fear of a strong national government. Modern liberals, however, did not have this fear. They believed that a greater national identity was a means to progress.


The main difference between the classical liberals’ and the progressive liberals’ view on freedom centered on the role that government was allowed to play. In the progressive area the government was viewed more as an agent of freedom rather than as a threat to it. New liberals believed that if government wasn’t involved then the stronger parts of society would dominate over the weaker parts, and the weaker would have no chance of exercising freedom.

Psychology and Schooling

Psychological studies also evolved during the progressive era and had an enormous influence on education. Psychologist began exploring the human psychology in a way that was similar to that of the psychology of animals. Behaviorism was theorized and heavily studied as well as early foundations of constructivist thought began to emerge. Overall, there became an emphasis or curiosity of the whole child. Ultimately, there were many conversations about what school should look like. Some suggested that schooling should be representative of the social condition. Social condition could be toward democracy or for work place, however there was still a strong emphasis on social values. Ultimately, schools should work in a way that is representative of valued psychological research.

Questions for thought:

? What impact has the perspectives of the progressive era had on your family history?

? What are the strengths/weaknesses to taking scientific approachs to study social situations?


Spring, J. (2014). The American school: A global context from the puritans to the Obama administration (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Tozer, S., Senese, G., & Violas, P. C. (2013). School and society: Historical and contemporary perspectives (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Watch video: http://fod.infobase.com/p_ViewPlaylist.aspx?AssignmentID=SBEB3E

1) Initial 1-page “Reaction Statement”

Description of Assignment:

Reflective reaction paper and questions/comments for discussion (3 pts. each) – Approximately one-page paper in response to the assigned readings and daily content that includes at least three critical questions for discussion.

Reaction statements should be approximately one-page in length (single spaced, 10-12 pt. font). Please do not provide a mere summary of the readings. Instead, please provide a thoughtful, scholarly reaction to the readings/content. Your reaction may include but is not limited to areas of agreement/disagreement, affirmation (or you can offer a counter argument with outside academic resource support), or other influences/connections. Your reaction statements should represent critical reflective thought.


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