Higher Education During The Colonial Period

1920 Words 8 Pages
Higher Learning and Learners
Curriculum at institutions of higher education during the colonial period in America (1636-1789) focused on utilitarian subjects such as the Classics (like Latin), rhetoric, and math (Marsden, 1994). These same subjects continued into the antebellum period (1789-1861). While the Yale Report defended the classical curriculum of Greek, Latin, and math, many colleges (especially women’s colleges) preferred to emphasize English and modern languages. Colleges sought ways to increase vocational skills (like bookkeeping) and social mobility. Civil engineering grew during the period as a response to military academies such as West Point and the United States Naval Academy. While there were freestanding medical and law schools, they existed more as diploma mills rather than true institutions of higher education (Thelin, 2011). During the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War (1860-1980), practical knowledge remained a priority, though the definition of practicality was altered. Medicine and law continued to serve the country as a whole. As students left family farms and “went out into the world,” normal schools supplied teachers for those students (Thelin, 2011). Liberal arts colleges helped emphasize the formation of character and intellect for those same students (Turner &Bernard, 1993). As a result of the Morrill Act of 1862, fields such as agriculture, mechanical education, engineering, mining and the military served to

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