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Elementary school

Elementary school, also known as grade school or grammar school, first school in the normal sequence of public education, consisting of the first 6 to 8 grades. Many school systems designate the 7th and 8th grades as a separate junior high school. The first effort to legislate for education in America was in Massachusetts in the 1640s, when parents and masters of apprentices were directed to take care for “the ability to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of the country.” Education, in other words, was to ensure the citizen's obedience to God and the state. Public education in the first instance was particularly for the poor. The rich were educated either at home by a tutor or in private schools dependent upon bequests and tuition fees. When state money was available for education it was more likely to be spent on colleges and universities than on “common schools.” The workingmen's societies that appeared in the urban North in the 1830s helped lead eventually to both the labor union movement and universal public education. The latter became a principle of Jacksonian democracy and came from a faith in common education as a means of erasing social differences. Whatever their political beliefs, U.S. citizens have tended to share a common faith in education as the most effective means of achieving a free and democratic society. Since the influence of John Dewey at the beginning of the 20th century, there has been a growing belief in elementary education as a means to develop the whole person rather than to produce a conditioned response through rote learning. The liberal view received a temporary setback in the 1950s, when the USSR's apparent victory in the space race led to the demand for a vigorous revival of the “three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic). Elementary education has also come under attack for its lack of success in teaching some children to read effectively. Many schools located in urban centers have been increasingly unable to deal with overcrowded classrooms, and the wide range of the students' cultural background which makes traditional teaching difficult.

See also: Education.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Eilat to ERA