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Blinn College professor leads panel discussion on public education

Dr. Blanche Brick and colleagues evaluate Horace Mann’s vision for education

October 27, 2015

A Blinn College history professor continues to evaluate the best methods to educate students while encouraging good democratic citizenship.

A 27-year veteran of Blinn’s Division of Social Sciences, Dr. Blanche Brick recently sat on a panel at the Organization of Educational Historians annual meeting in Chicago and discussed Horace Mann’s vision for public education in a democratic society.

An American politician and educational reformer in the mid-1800s, Mann argued that education should be free, universal, non-sectarian and socially efficient, encouraging civic virtue and character rather than an advancement of specific religious or political ideals.

“In a democratic society, we’re led to ask ourselves what the best method is for educating students to become good citizens,” Brick said. “You give them the best education you can without indoctrinating them—a broad, liberal arts education gives students the ability to think critically, and that’s what makes them good citizens.”

Brick, alongside Dr. Bob Pepperman Taylor, professor of political science at the University of Vermont and author of “Horace Mann’s Troubling Legacy: The Education of Democratic Citizens,” led the panel investigating Mann’s impact on education. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of curriculum and foundations of education at Baylor University.

Brick initiated the annual panel discussion eight years ago. She finds her probe into Mann’s doctrine beneficial to her role at Blinn.

“What are we doing but learning from our history to become better citizens and better people?” Brick said. “This applies in the classroom and in professional life in deciding what curriculum to follow and how to teach it.”