When widespread free or publicly funded education did come toAmerica in the 19th century, it came in the form of HoraceMann's “common school.” Such schools wouldeducate all children together, “in common,” regardless oftheir background, religion, or social standing. Underneath suchfine sentiments lurked an additional goal: to ensure that all childrencould flourish in America's democratic system. The civiceducation curriculum was explicit, if not simplistic. To creategood citizens and good persons required little beyond teaching thebasic mechanics of government and imbuing students with loyalty toAmerica and her democratic ideals. That involved large amounts ofrote memorization of information about political and military historyand about the workings of governmental bodies at the local, state, andfederal levels. It also involved conformity to specific rulesdescribing conduct inside and outside of school.


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