Probably no single movement so greatly affected colonial America than the protestant reformation. Most of the eurpeans who came to America were protestants, but there were many denominations. Lutherans from Germany settled in the middle collonies along with Puritans and Presbyterians. The reormation placed great emphasis on the written word. Sectarian schools were needed to promte the growth of each religious sect. Luther’s doctrines made it necessary for boys and girls to learn to read the scriptures.
While the schools that the colonies established in the 17th century in New England, southern and middle colonies differed from one another, reflecting a concept of schooling that had been left behind in Europe. Most poor children learned through apprenticeship and had no formal schooling at all. Where public school systems existed in European countries such as france and gemany, they were dual systems. When a child of the lower and middle class finished his elementary schooling he could go on to a vocational school.
The upper class child was tutored for nine years and then went to a secondary latin school. The purpose of the latin school was to prepare for a university, from which he could emerge as a potential leader for his country. With the American education system there was chance to climb the social ladder. Those who did go to elementary school were taught reading,writing, math and religion. Learning consisted of memorizing stimulated by whipping. The first textbook the New England Primer was America’s own contribution to education.
Used from 1609 until the beginning of the 19th century, its purpose was to teach both religion and reading. the child learning the letter A for example also learned that ” In Adams fall, We sinned all. ” As in Europe schools were strongly influenced by religion. This was also true of schools in the New England area settled by Puritans. Like the Protestants of the Reformation who established vernacular elementary schools in germany in the 16th century the Puritans sought to make education universal.
They took the first steps toward government supported education in the colonies. The “Old Deluder Satan Act” passed in 1647 by puritans in Massachusetts requirded every child be taught to read. Puritan or not all of the colonial schools had clear cut moral purposes. Skills and knowledge were considered important to the degree that they served religious ends and trained the mind. Early schools supplied the students with moral lessons not just reading writing and math. Obviously the founders saw it necessary to apply these techniques so that students learned particular values.
The Industrial revolution began in europe and spread to America a few decades later. One effect of the change from an agricultural to industrial economy was the demand for schools to train students for the workforce. Vocational and industrial education better supplied students with the knowledge to enter a career rather than religious studies. The vocational value of shop work was considered part of general education. The need for skilled workers and the demand for high school education for those not bound for college caused manual training to gain speed.
Educaton was coalled upon to meet the needs of employers. Practical content was in competition with religious concerns. Vocational education was more significant in the middle colonies beacuse the land wasn’t very fertile. people had to look for work other than farming. The academy that Franklin founded in 1751 brought education closer to the needs of everyday life. Subjects were more practical seeing how business and industry was driving the economy. Religious classes could not pay the bills or make a living.
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