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In the United States, the vast majority of individuals labeled as retarded fall under the category of educable mental retardation. These persons are described as “functionally handicapped” because they are without signs of organic disorder or brain pathology. Furthermore, they are drawn almost exclusively from poor families, often of minority origin, an attribute that makes educable mental retardation unique among modern special education classifications and which has made it the subject of controversy since the late 1960s.
Esteem and disgrace are of all the others, the most powerful incentives to the mind, when once it is brought to relish them. If you can once get into children a love of credit, and an apprehension of shame and disgrace, you have put into them the true principle, which will constantly work, and incline them to the right. But it will be asked, How shall this be done? John Locke
The great secret of education is to direct vanity to [its] proper objects. Adam Smith
Recent reports on the state of American education underline again and again the importance of competitive individualism in contemporary classrooms and the extraordinary uniformity of classroom organization and pedagogy across the country. John Goodlad, for example, reports that despite “the rhetoric of individual flexibility, originality and creativity,” American pedagogy invariably emphasizes simultaneous instruction (“frontal teaching”) in teacher-dominated classrooms, competition, individual performance and achievement, “listening, reading textbooks, completing workbooks and worksheets, and taking quizzes,” “seeking right answers, conforming, and reproducing the known.” This paper will argue that the social relations, organization, and psychology of the contemporary classroom system are interdependent and that they entered English and American education with the penetration of the classroom by the market and “disciplinary” revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The editors of the History of Education Quarterly are pleased to present this forum on Lawrence A. Cremin's American Education: The Metropolitan Experience, 1876–1980. Beginning in the 1960s, Cremin began to chart a new and distinctive approach to the study of America's educational past. This final volume on “the metropolitan experience” therefore completes a trilogy over two decades in the making. We hope that this forum offers our readers an opportunity to reflect upon Cremin's contributions. We are very grateful to Robert L. Church of Michigan State University, Michael B. Katz of the University of Pennsylvania, Harold Silver of Oxford, England, and, of course, Professor Cremin himself for graciously participating in this lively exchange of ideas.