Education has not always been an important factor in the history of the United States. Nowadays it is a requirement for all children to have an education, whether it is taught in the home or at a school. Class sizes now vary depending on how many students are in grade or school system. Some grades are split up into multiple classes and others will all be together. However, this was not always true back in the 1800’s.
Elizabeth Wilcox was a young woman who worked as a school teacher in 1857 in Macomb County. As a school teacher, she made $3 or $4 a week in the winter and $2 a week during the summer. She also received room and boarding as a part of her payment. She wrote down her experiences with the eight students in a notebook for safe keeping. I am surprised by her dislike for her job and experiences. On July 5 she wrote, “And tomorrow morning I am to enter upon my duties for the coming summer. Tis a dread.” (Grimm, 1987). To me it sounds as if she did not like the idea of starting her new job as a teacher. If a teacher does not like what they do, are the students getting a proper education? Did she have other options for a job or was that just the “norm” for a young single woman?
Another teacher in Michigan was Eliza Moore who also wrote down her experiences as a young female teacher. Eliza was paid $5 a week and given room and board. However, compared to Elizabeth’s eight students, Eliza ended up with 89. Eliza was sought out in the winter months to start teaching because the previous teacher had left the position. Eliza seemed to have a different outlook on things compared to Elizabeth. Eliza seemed to find more enjoyment out of teaching and could see the difference in the children. She noticed the difference in obedience between children and it made her question where it came from. (Grimm, 1987) Since the children were not all the same age and were at different development stages, wouldn’t this make a difference of obedience? Michigan’s early education structure really didn’t have much structure to it because it was new and they had to figure out what worked and what did not. It surprises me that they put so many different age groups in one school room setting. At what point did they think to separate them and make it the way that it is now?
The 1835 Constitution of Michigan written by our forefathers had an article based soley on the education for Michigan people. Article X had 5 major points to it including, Superintendent of public instruction, appointment, term. Perpetual fund for support of schools, Common school system, yearly term, Libraries, and University fund.
These five things are still being used today. All schools have a superintendent that is the top person within that organization. Plenty of schools have land that is used for agriculture and other physical activities. Money is given to schools and without the money they would not be able to operate. Education can be very expensive, not only because of the books but because of the wages that are paid to those giving the education. They defined an amount of time that school will take place throughout the year. Libraries are in most schools and towns. Land was set aside for Universities to grow and become what they are today. All these things we see today.
The forefathers had a good idea on how to put a good school together to offer better education. Some of their ideas are not used exactly today as they were in 1835, but the idea is still there. Change is something that is inevitable and is always happening. The forefathers took the idea of education and changed it into something positive and something that would benefit everyone in Michigan.
Grimm, J. (1987). Michigan voices: our states history in the words of the people who lived it. Detroit, MI: Detroit Free Press.
Constitution of Michigan of 1835. (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/hal_mhc_sa_1835_MI_Constitution_51420_7.pdf