March 10, 2009 Education reform is the process of improving public education. Small improvements in education theoretically have large social returns, in health, wealth and well-being. Historically, reforms have taken different forms because the motivations of reformers have differed. A continuing motivation has been to reduce cost to students and society. From the ancient times until the 1800s, one goal was to reduce the expense of a classical education. Ideally, classical education is undertaken with a highly educated full-time (extremely expensive) personal tutor. Historically, this was available only to the most wealthy. Encyclopedias, public libraries and grammar schools are examples of innovations intended to lower the cost of a classical education. Related reforms attempted to develop similar classical results by concentrating on "why", and "which" questions neglected by classical education. Abstract, introspective answers to these questions can theoretically compress large amounts of facts into relatively few principles. This path was taken by some Transcendentalist educators, such as Amos Bronson Alcott. In the early modern age, Victorian schools were reformed to teach commercially useful topics, such as modern languages and mathematics, rather than classical subjects, such as Latin and Greek. Many reformers focused on reforming society by reforming education on more scientific, humanistic, pragmatic or democratic principles. John Dewey, and ...

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