Who was Horace Mann?

School History

Horace Mann Middle School opened at its present site in April 1952 as Horace Mann Junior High School. It remained a junior high, serving 7 through 9 grades until September 1986, when it was converted to a middle school, serving grades 6 through 8.

Alma Mater

We are the Mighty Cougars!

By views of clear skies and sunshine,

Stands dear Horace Mann Middle School.

With spirit of green and gold we share,

Loyalty and honor we promise to thee.

Forever in our hearts we hold thee,

Cougars! We will always be!

Forever in our hearts we hold thee,

Cougars! We will always be.

Who was Horace Mann?

Horace Mann is known as the "Father of the Common School Movement" and his work as secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education helped lay the foundation for American public schools. Historian Ellwood P. Cubberley said of Horace Mann:

No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.

Born in 1796, Horace Mann grew up the son of a farmer who was too poor to provide education beyond eight weeks of elementary schooling since education was not free at the time. Upon his father's death, Mann received a modest inheritance that was used to pay for his education at the Barrett School and prepared him for Brown University. Mann graduated from Brown in three years as the valedictorian. He then went to work as a tutor of Greek and Latin and a librarian at Brown. He eventually graduated from the Litchfield Law School in Connecticut.

Horace Mann married Mary Peabody who put him in contact with the leading figures of the Transcendentalist Movement including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau who would become his progressive peers. Mann visited Europe to compare American schools with their European peers. He visited Charles Dickens in London to discuss education and the squalid conditions of the poor but was most influenced by the Prussian education system in Germany that included compensatory tax-funded education and helped bring normal schools to train and certify teachers.

Eventually, Mann went on to become a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature. From there, he took a pay cut to serve as the first secretary for the Board of Education in Massachusetts in 1837 and served in that role for twelve years. Horace Mann was the founder and editor of the influential Common School Journal that helped spread his ideas regarding the need for a public education in the United States and what should be the primary principles of that education. He eventually won a seat in Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives. An ardent abolitionist, Mann argued against Daniel Webster on the Fugitive Slave Law and was quoted as saying, "I consider no evil as great as slavery."

Defeated in his bid for the Governorship of Massachusetts, Mann served as President of Antioch College from 1853 until his death in 1859. While at Antioch, Mann argued for equal pay for teachers despite gender. In his final commencement speech, he implored his graduates to "be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." The phase is still repeated at every Antioch commencement.

The Six Education Principles of Horace Mann:

(1) the public should no longer remain ignorant;

(2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public;

(3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds;

(4) that this education must be non-sectarian;

(5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society;

(6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers.

Mann on Education Policy:

"The public school is the greatest discovery made by man. The Public School is the cornerstone of a democratic society. Education is best provided in schools embracing children of all religious, social, and ethnic backgrounds."

"Education...beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of men --the balance wheel of the social machinery"

"Jails and prisons are the complement of schools; so many less as you have of the latter, so many more must you have of the former."

Mann on Character and Habits:

"Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen."

"Habit is a cable; weave a thread of it each day, and at last, we cannot break it."

"Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you."

"It is well to think well; it is divine to act well."

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

"Manners are the root, laws only the trunk and branches. Manners are the archetypes of laws. Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals."

Mann on Work Ethic:

"Genius may conceive but patient labor must consummate."

Mann on Reading:

"Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year."

"Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows."

Mann on Teaching:

"You may be liberal in your praise where praise is due: it costs nothing; it encourages much."

"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron."

"Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care."

"In trying to teach children a great deal in a short time, they are treated not as though the race they were to run was for life, but simply a three-mile heat."

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