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ERIC Number: EJ1149968
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1535-0584
Teachers Walking and Talking with Students: The Lost Social Capital of the Nineteenth Century
Smilie, Kipton D.; Smilie, Ethan K.
American Educational History Journal, v41 n1 p41-57 2014
As has been noted in previous studies, the great social significance of the schoolhouse in a community, the fact that it served often both as the literal center of a community as well as its social center, afforded teachers greater opportunity to interact with students outside school doors. Compared to today, teachers were considerably more likely to be immersed in the lives of students, in roles other than schoolmasters, allowing them a variety of means for producing social capital. Especially with the commonplace practice of boarding with families in the community, where teachers often walked with pupils to and from school. Such occasions afforded ample opportunity for teachers and pupils to discuss a variety of topics, concerning matters both inside and outside the schoolhouse. Judging from accounts such as these, casual and everyday contact between teachers and students helped to forge relations that were potentially of mutual benefit. The mass movement of individuals from rural areas to urban areas occurred consistently throughout the century, and by 1920 a larger percentage of Americans lived in urban areas. The dwindling rural population forced many common schools to close or to consolidate to survive. As a result, many students no longer lived in the same neighborhoods. The poignant examples of social capital on display in the nineteenth century common schools highlight the dearth of mutually beneficial relationships in the experience of contemporary schools. The authors believe this absence is likely one reason teachers today feel a sense of isolation from their students' lives.The drive for professionalization has hindered the benefits of teacher student relationships too, as continual professional training and certification allow for less time and opportunity in the public realm. The authors argue that the social capital produced by the relationships between teachers and students has been diminished in modern schools, they hold out hope however by saying it is by no means completely lost. They express that this relationship in modern schools exists in narrower often school-sponsored forms such as activities, clubs, and sports. Today, the coach has the opportunity to interact with students both inside and outside the classroom regularly. Common ground, primarily with student athletes, is easily fostered and reciprocal trust and respect more easily created and maintained. While the authors applaud the fact that attending school for more days and the rise of teachers to professional status have provided untold benefits to students, they still believe images of early teachers walking from school with students, have much to teach modern educators about interacting with students.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A