American history 2

Four Historical Events Presentation

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[WLOs: 1, 2] [CLOs: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7]

Prior to beginning work on this assignment, review the 

American Educational History: A Hypertext Timeline
 (Links to an external site.)


American Educational History: Some Helpful Links
 (Links to an external site.)

. Review Chapters 1 and 2 in the History of American Education: Voices and Perspectives text, and watch the 

At-potential Students
 (Links to an external site.)


Each week, you will take the topics you address in the discussion forums and expand on these by creating PowerPoint presentations for your assignments. These weekly presentations will serve as sections of your History of American Education Workshop final presentation in Week 5. This week, you will address the four historical events in education you chose for the discussion forum using the directives below. In Week 2, you will outline major developmental periods or eras in education, and in Week 3, you will examine educational philosophies. In Week 4, you will explore social, political, or cultural trends in education.

Using the feedback throughout the weeks from your instructor and your peers, you will bring all of these components back together for your final presentation in Week 5, which will serve as a guide for a History of American Education Workshop that you will deliver to a group of hypothetical pre-service teachers. Look ahead to Week 5, and read through the requirements of the final presentation to help you better prepare for this assignment.

In your Four Historical Events Presentation,

· Outline four historical events in education that you believe have been instrumental in influencing educational policies and procedures in school systems today, two of which must have had a direct impact on a
t-potential populations.

· Explain why each of those four historical events have impacted school policy and procedures.

· Evaluate the impact the four historical events have had on at-potential populations.

· Describe how these four historical events have reshaped your thinking about the teaching and learning process.

As you do your research, compile your responses to the directives above in a way that it will be easy for you to transfer them to your PowerPoint presentation (for example, bullet points would work best).

See below for instructions on how to create each slide:

· You will use the 7×7 rule to create your presentation. The 7×7 rule states that you use no more than seven bullet points per slide and no more than seven words per bullet point. This way your visual presentation will only show the main points on each slide without overwhelming your viewers with too many words. You still need to make your slides attractive by adding images and colors.

· You will add either a voice narration or detailed speaker notes to explain the content on the slides.

· If you choose the voice narration option, create a coherent message to fill in the gaps between the main points on your slides. Don’t just read the slides to your audience. They already know how to read. Use this presentation as an opportunity to share your passion about the content, and use it to engage students and make the learning experience fun. Use your narration to explain each of your slides, and limit your narration for the presentation to 5 minutes or less. View this video if you need instructions on how insert voice narration into a PowerPoint: 

Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 Tutorial | Recording Narration
 (Links to an external site.)


· If you are unable to insert an audio narration in the PowerPoint presentation, add your narrative in written form in the presentation notes section of each slide. Please provide detailed notes that spell out what you would have said in the audio insert.

· If you need help with creating an effective PowerPoint presentation, please review the 

How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation
 (Links to an external site.)

 guide from the University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center Writing Center.

The Four Historical Events presentation,

· Must be four to 10 slides.

· Must include a title slide with the following:

· Title of presentation in bold font

· Space should appear between the title and the rest of the information on the title slide.

· Student’s name

· Name of institution (The University of Arizona Global Campus)

· Course name and number

· Instructor’s name

· Due date

· Must use at least two scholarly sources in addition to the course text.

· The 

Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources
 (Links to an external site.)

 table offers additional guidance on appropriate source types. If you have questions about whether a specific source is appropriate for this assignment, please contact your instructor. Your instructor has the final say about the appropriateness of a specific source.

· To assist you in completing the research required for this assignment, view 

Quick and Easy Library Research
 (Links to an external site.)

 tutorial, which introduces the University of Arizona Global Campus Library and the research process, and provides some library search tips.

· Must document any information used from sources in APA Style as outlined in the Writing Center’s 

APA: Citing Within Your Paper
 (Links to an external site.)


· Must include a separate references slide that is formatted according to APA Style as outlined in the Writing Center. See the 

APA: Formatting Your References List
 (Links to an external site.)

 resource in the Writing Center for specifications.

2 Education in Colonial America

All other nations have come into being among peoples
whose families had lived for time out of mind on the

same land where they were born. Englishmen are
English, Frenchmen are French, and Chinese are Chinese.

While their governments come and go; their national
states can be torn apart and remade without losing their

nationhood. But Americans are a nation born out of
an idea; not the place, but the idea, created the United

States Government.
—Theodore H. White, American Pulitzer Prize–Winning political writer

Steve Campbell

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1. The Puritans considered education necessary to maintain the Puritan way of life. T/F
2. The Old Deluder Satan Law of 1647 illustrated how entwined religion and education

often were in New England. T/F
3. Public and private Latin grammar schools existed for female children of the well-to-do. T/F
4. Colonial teachers were chosen more for their religious orthodoxy than their education. T/F
5. The Quakers were the missionary group that showed the greatest interest in the

education of both African Americans and Native Americans. T/F

Answers can be found at the end of this chapter.

Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter you should be able to:

1. Discuss the various providers of elementary education in

colonial America.

2. Describe education at a Latin grammar school.
3. Describe the instruction and instructional materials in colonial schools.
4. Explain the role of major religious groups and denominations in the provision of

education in the various colonies.
5. Compare education in the New England, Middle Atlantic, and Southern colonies.
6. Describe the impact of the Enlightenment on education in the colonies.
7. Describe the status of higher education in colonial America.
8. Describe the preparation, duties, and responsibilities of the colonial schoolmaster.
9. Compare the education of African Americans and Native Americans in

colonial America.

Between 1607, when the first permanent English colony was founded in Jamestown, and
1733, when Georgia was founded by former inmates from English debtors’ prisons, the Brit-
ish established 12 colonies along the Atlantic seaboard (New York was seized from the Dutch
in 1764). They varied widely in their economies, their political traditions, and their religions.
Their provisions for education reflected these differences.

In the New England colonies, a tradition of government and religious involvement in and
support of education developed. The ethnic, language, and religious differences in the Mid-
Atlantic colonies were reflected in a pattern of pluralistic, parochial schools, with no gov-
ernment support. Educational opportunity in the Southern colonies, where the established
church did not involve itself in the provision of education, was determined almost exclu-
sively by social class. In all areas a two-track system of petty, or common, schools and Latin
grammar schools dominated, and instruction was primarily religious and authoritarian. And
in all areas religion played a major role in determining the selection of schoolmasters, the
majority of whom received no formal training for their role.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

In the later colonial period, the ideology of the Enlightenment, a trans-Atlantic intellectual
movement that emphasized rationality and scientific inquiry, combined with an increasingly
commercialized economy to demand a more practical education than that offered by the Latin
grammar school. The result was the rise of the academy, which offered an education to the
sons (and later daughters) of the mercantile gentry, which was, in Benjamin Franklin’s terms,
both “ornamental” and “useful.” Similar dissatisfaction with the classical curriculum of the
university also brought changes that reflected the growing secularization of society.

The education systems that evolved in colonial America, although grounded in the European
heritage of the colonists, were no less a product of their colonial experiences and developing
culture. Some practices were transplanted and took root, whereas other practices (such as
reliance on private support for the schools) failed or were discarded. In this chapter we look
at the first steps in this evolving process.

2.1 Education in the New England Colonies

The English exploration of North America began with the voyages of John Cabot along the
coast between Chesapeake Bay (Virginia) and Newfoundland in 1497 and 1498. But it was
not until almost a century later that the English attempted to colonize any of this territory. In
1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert attempted, unsuccessfully, to establish a colony in Newfoundland.
The next year his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, established what became known as the Lost
Colony of Roanoke (North Carolina), which was equally a failure.

However, in the first decade of the 17th century, economic prosperity in England, the Protes-
tant Reformation, English naval supremacy following the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and
the newly achieved peace with Spain combined with a desire for the riches of the New World
to create a renewed English interest in establishing a presence in North America.

In 1606 King James of England granted a charter for a settlement in the New World to a joint
stock company known as the Virginia Company. The next year, 104 settlers recruited by the
Virginia Company established the first permanent English settlement in the New World on
the tidewater plains of Chesapeake Bay at Jamestown, Virginia.

Despite the perils of disease, hunger, and Native American attack, the colony survived. Tobacco
from the West Indies was introduced in 1612, and its cultivation promoted the growth and
economic prosperity of the colony as well as a demand for cheap labor. By 1619, when a
Dutch ship captain sold the first African Americans as indentured servants, the colony was
already experiencing a shortage of laborers for the tobacco fields. Attempts to enslave the
native population proved unsuccessful and led to what seemed to be an inevitable demand
for imported slave labor.

James I revoked the charter of the Virginia Company in 1624, making Virginia a royal colony
under the direct control of a governor appointed by the crown. That same year, farther to the
north, the Dutch established a colony, New Netherlands, at the lower end of Manhattan Island.

In 1620 a group of religious dissidents, the Pilgrims, separatist Puritans who wanted to purify
and separate from the Church of England, set sail for northern Virginia but landed their ship,

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

the Mayflower, 225 miles to the northeast at Plymouth (Massachusetts). Within 10 years, the
population of the Plymouth Bay Colony was estimated to be 5,700.

In 1628 a group of nonseparatist Puritans led by John Winthrop founded the Massachu-
setts Bay Colony at Boston. This colony became a focal point of migration and the base
from which the other New England colonies (Rhode Island, New Haven [Connecticut], and
New Hampshire) developed (Cohen, 1974b). Over 20,000 settlers (mostly farmers, mer-
chants, and artisans) came during the Great Migration from 1630 to 1642 (Milner, O’Conner,
& Sandweiss, 1996).

Although immigration decreased significantly after that, high birthrates and low infant mor-
tality rates contributed to a rapid growth of the New England colonies. By 1700 the descen-
dants of these settlers constituted 40% of the colonial population of North America (Milner
et al., 1996). According to Cubberley (1934), the Puritans “contributed most that was of value
for our future educational development” (p. 14). The New England colonists sustained a vig-
orous emphasis on education even within a hostile new environment.

The Puritan interest in education stemmed from the fact that they were generally well edu-
cated themselves, and therefore valued schooling, and from the importance of education to
the Puritan way of life. The Puritans shared many of the educational views of the Reforma-
tion—namely, that education was necessary for religious instruction and salvation, economic
self-reliance, and the exercise of citizenship by a literate laity.

Initially the Puritans attempted to follow the English practice of establishing and supporting
schools with private donations and limiting the role of the state. However, the lack of a pool of
wealthy benefactors, as well as the fears that parents were neglecting the education of their
children, soon led them to consider a more direct government role.

Massachusetts Education Laws of 1642 and 1647

The first major indication of the role that the state would eventually come to play in Ameri-
can education, indeed the first education law in the colonies, was the Massachusetts Educa-
tion Law of 1642. It was aimed at not only promoting literacy but also strengthening the
social order. The law ordered the representatives of each town, called selectmen, to ascertain
whether parents and masters of apprentices were providing for the education of their wards.

The selectmen were to determine the ability of the child to “read and understand the prin-
ciples of religion and the capitall lawes of this county.” The parent or master of any child fail-
ing to meet this obligation could be fined, and the child could be apprenticed to a new master
who would be required to fulfill the law. Although it required neither the establishment of
schools nor compulsory attendance, only 22 years after stepping ashore in the New World,
the colonists were enacting legislation that did, in fact, require compulsory education.

Five years later, the colony enacted the Education Law of 1647, also called the Old Deluder
Satan Law because of its first line: “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to
keep men from knowledge of the Scriptures.” This law actually required the establishment of
schools: It ordered every township of 50 households to “appoint one within their town to
teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and reade” and all townships of 100 or
more households to “set up a grammaer schoole, the master thereof being able to instruct

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

youth so farr as they may be fited for the university, provided that if any towne neglect the
performance hereof above one year, that every such towne shall pay £five to the next school
till they shall perform this order.”

Importantly, neither the Education Law of 1642
nor the Education Law of 1647 made any mention
of the church or a minister. Rather, education was
made a direct responsibility of the people and their
elected officials. This initial action laid the founda-
tion for what was to become the cornerstone of
the American educational system—local responsi-
bility and the separation of church and state.

The laws also served as models for other colonies: Three years after the Massachusetts Old
Deluder Satan Law, the colonists in Connecticut enacted similar legislation, and by the 1670s
all the New England colonies but one had done so (Monaghan, 2005). Strict compliance with
the Law of 1647 was rare, however. Most towns either could not afford or could not find a
teacher who specialized in Latin. More often they hired a teacher who knew Latin but also
taught the English curriculum (Perlman & Margo, 2001) at a “general” school that was a com-
promise response to laws that required them to provide both a reading/writing school and a
grammar school that taught Latin grammar and mathematics (Monaghan, 2005).

Elementary Schooling

The New England colonists shared John Calvin’s view of the aim of education, and they
adopted the two-track system he and the other scholars of the Reformation advocated. Town
schools were established by an official act of the town, acting as a corporate body, to provide
an elementary education. The town schools are often referred to as common schools because
they were open to children of all social classes. Rarely, however, were they tuition-free. Par-
ents usually paid a head tax for each child in attendance, although the township often supple-
mented the fees.

In some towns girls were allowed to attend the town school. However, they were generally
allowed to attend only when the boys were not present (before or after the regular school day)
or during the summer when the older boys would be working on the farm. It was also during
the summer session when women teachers were most likely to be employed to teach younger
children of both sexes, as well as the older girls. The summer schools tended to concentrate
on reading while the winter schools attended by the older boys offered more advanced sub-
jects. Finally, because women teachers were paid only about one third as much as male teach-
ers, summer schools were far less expensive to operate (Perlman & Margo, 2001).

The Dame School
The most common provider of elementary education, especially in the early colonial days
and for the youngest children, was the dame school. This old English institution operated
for children under 7 or 8 years of age was essentially a household school held in the kitchen
or living room of a neighborhood woman (often a widow) with minimal education, like the
“Marm” described in the Primary Source Readings for this chapter, who received a modest fee
for her efforts.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Give examples of existing education laws or
policies that are directed at maintaining or
strengthening the social order. How effective
are they? What are the pros and cons of having
education as a local responsibility?

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

Dame schools educated the children
of the common folk in the basics of
spelling and reading. Occasionally, if
the dame knew any herself, she might
teach basic writing and arithmetic.
Girls were often taught cooking and
needlework along with their letters.
In Puritan New England the view was
that a little reading, spelling, and nee-
dlework was all the education that was
needed or appropriate for females.

Girls needed to be able to read so that
they could study the Bible, but writing,
arithmetic, grammar, and geography
were considered unnecessary. There
was no need for girls to learn to write
because they had few if any acquain-
tances outside their own town to communicate with, and there was no need for them to learn
anything but enough arithmetic to count their eggs or stitches because men conducted all
business affairs (Littlefield, 1965).

Some towns designated the dame school mistress as the town teacher and thereby claimed to
be in compliance with the Law of 1647. In the later colonial years some towns also began pay-
ing the dame school teachers directly rather than relying on parental payments. Thus, what
had been a private institution gradually came to be viewed as a public enterprise. One reason
for public support of the dame school was to subsidize education for the children of the poor
(Perlman & Margo, 2001). Another reason was to provide inexpensive educational services to
hamlets surrounding a town as it grew and its population dispersed.

Reading Schools and Writing Schools
Also operating at the elementary level were the so-called reading schools and writing schools,
which were concerned with the teaching of these disciplines. These schools operated on a fee
basis, although in the later colonial period some of them also received some public support. In
colonial schools, reading was taught independent of, and prior to, writing. The reading school
was the more basic of the two types of schools, concentrating on the learning of the alphabet
with perhaps some religious instruction (Butts & Cremin, 1953).

The writing school focused on the skills that were needed in commerce—writing, arithm-
etic, double-entry bookkeeping—but not uncommonly gave some attention to reading as
well. These schools were almost always taught by men because they were the ones who pos-
sessed these skills. Writing schools typically did admit girls. However, few parents were will-
ing or able to pay the fees for their daughters, and most girls’ educations ended with the
dame school.

Christie’s Images Ltd./


The dame school provided the only education that
many colonial children received.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

Charity Schools
Yet another provider of elementary education was the charity or pauper school. These were
primarily operated by the various denominations, but sometimes by wealthy benefactors, for
the children of the poor who could not afford to attend other schools. They operated mainly
in the South and in the larger towns and cities throughout the colonies.

Even in the communities where they did operate, they did not serve all the needy children.
The child might be needed to work, or the parents might be unwilling to go through the
humiliating process of declaring themselves paupers. The pauper schools offered only a basic
curriculum, “strongly laced with religious exercises and the memorization of scripture. The
goal was to produce adults who would be minimally literate, who would have a chance at
religious salvation, and who would act according to the morality the schools taught” (Kaestle,
1983, pp. 31–32).

The Apprenticeship System
An apprenticeship system whereby a child was entrusted to a master to learn a trade was
also a means by which some children were educated. The apprenticeship system stemmed
from the guild system of the Middle Ages. A child could be entered into an apprenticeship vol-
untarily by his or her parent or involuntarily under certain circumstances. The laws of some
colonies mandated that all children whose parents were unable to provide for them were to
be placed in apprenticeships. The apprenticeship was also used as a way to provide for the
very poor or orphans.

Both boys and girls served as apprentices, as did some free African Americans. Females usu-
ally were given fewer educational opportunities than males and were most often apprenticed
as cooks and bakers or domestic servants, or in weaving, spinning, or needlecraft. The need
for skilled workers in the colonies served to strengthen the apprenticeship system and the
attention given to the relationship between the master and the apprentice. For example, Ben-
jamin Franklin’s brother, to whom he had been apprenticed, beat him and as a result was
jailed for a month.

The master was typically required by the terms of
the indenture to ensure that the apprentice could
at least minimally read and write (see the 1772
schoolmaster apprentice contract in the From
the Archives feature box). Sometimes the master
provided the instruction, but often, especially in
the New England and Mid-Atlantic colonies where
schools were more readily available, he paid for others to provide the instruction. The Edu-
cation Laws of 1642 and 1647 strengthened the educational component of the apprentice-
ship system.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Compare the apprenticeship described in the
From the Archives feature box with the student
teaching experience.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

Instruction and Instructional Materials

Instruction in colonial schools was primarily religious and authoritarian. Its goal was prepa-
ration for eternity. The curriculum stressed the four Rs: readin’, ‘ritin’, ‘rithmetic, and religion.
Memorization and recitation were the dominant instructional processes. The schoolmaster

From the Archives: Apprentice Contract for a Schoolmaster, 1722
This contract from 1722 states the terms of the apprenticeship between the apprentice, John Campbel,
and George Brownell, the schoolmaster.

Registered for Mr. George Brownell Schoolmaster

ye 18th day of July 1722.

This Indenture Wittnesseth that John Campbel Son of Robert Campbell of the City of
New York with the Consent of his father and mother hath put himself and by these
presents doth Voluntarily put and bind himself Apprentice to George Brownell of
the Same City Schoolmaster to learn the Art Trade or Mystery and with the Said
George Brownell to Serve from the twenty ninth day of May one thousand seven
hundred and twenty one for and during the Term of ten years and three Months to
be Compleat and Ended During all which term the said Apprentice his said Master
and Mistress faithfully Shall Serve their Secrets keep and Lawfull Commands gladly
everywhere obey he Shall do no damage to his said Master or Mistress nor suffer
it to be done by others without Letting or Giving Notice thereof to his said Master
or Mistress he shall not Waste his said Master or Mistress Goods or Lend them
Unlawfully to any he shall not Committ fornication nor Contract Matrimony within
the Said Term at Cards Dice or any other unlawfull Game he shall not Play: he Shall
not absent himself by Day or by Night from his Said Master or Mistress Service
without their Leave; nor haunt Alehouses Taverns or Playhouses but in all things
behave himself as a faithfull Apprentice ought to Do towards his said Master or
Mistress during the Said Term. And the said George Brownell Doth hereby Covenant
and Promise to teach and Instruct or Cause the said Apprentice to be taught and
Instructed in the Art Trade or Calling of a Schoolmaster by the best way or means
he or his wife may or can if the Said Apprentice be Capable to Learn and to find and
Provide unto the Said Apprentice sufficient meat Drink Apparel Lodging and wash-
ing fitting for an Apprentice during the Said Term: and at the Expiration thereof to
give unto the Said Apprentice one Suit of Cloth new Consisting of a coatvest coat and
Breeches also one New hatt Six New Shirts Three pair of Stockings one pair of New
Shoes Suitable for his said Apprentice. In Testimony Whereof the Parties to these
Presents have hereunto Interchangeably Sett their hands and Seals the third day of
August in the Eighth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George King of Great
Brittain &c. Anno Domini One thousand seven hundred and Twenty-One. John Camp-
bel. Signed Sealed and Delivered in the presence of Mary Smith Cornelius Kiersted
Memorandum Appeared before me John Cruger Esq. Alderman and One of his Majes-
ties Justices of the Peace for this City and County. John Campbell and Acknowledged
the within Indenture to be his Voluntary Act and Deed New York the 9th Aprill 1722.

John Cruger.

From City of N. Yorke indenture, 1694-1727, translated by Saybold, cited by Cubberley, E.P. (1934). Readings in Public
Education in the United States. New York: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 71-72.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

Tools of the Trade: The Hornbook
The hornbook originated in England in the mid-15th century. When the English settlers came to
the colonies, they brought their hornbooks with them. The hornbook used in colonial America
was approximately 3” 3 5” and had a handle with a hole in it so it could be strung around the
child’s neck or on his/her belt. The typical lessons on the hornbook were the alphabet vowel and
consonant combinations, ABCs, the Lord’s Prayer, verses with either a scriptural or a moral theme,
and some stanzas of poetry for memorizing. At the top on the side of some hornbooks was the
biblical emblem of the cross, which was soon referred to as Crisscross—Christ’s Cross. Others had
little pictures around the four edges to aid in memorization (such as B-Bear; H-Horse; O-Owl; etc.).
A further aid to memory was a row of nonsense jingles such as the following:

Art we add

Ben is bad

Cat she can

Dad or dan

Ear and eye

. . .

(Meriwether, 1978, pp. 29–30)

As paper became cheaper and more available, the use of the hornbook declined. However, it
continued to be in use in some rural schools until the late 1700s or early 1800s.

relied on fear to motivate children and to keep them in order. It was not uncommon for a gag
to be put in the mouth of a child who talked too much or for a child who did not perform well
to be made to stand in the corner, sometimes on a stool, wearing a dunce cap.

Classes often lasted from about 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a 2-hour break for lunch, for 8 months
(March to October) and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for 4 months (November to February). In the early
colonial period classes were held in the house of the schoolmaster or the town meeting house.
Later, when schoolhouses were built, they were scarcely more than a narrow log box with a
master’s desk and crude wooden student benches. “Many schoolhouses did not have glass set
in the small windows but newspaper or white paper greased with lard were fastened in the
rude sashes, or in holes cut in the wall, and let in a little light” (Glubok, 1969, p. 120).

The Hornbook
Paper was expensive and was rarely used for practice in the schools. The white bark from
birch trees was often used instead, and narrow pieces of actual lead (not graphite pencils) or
quill pens made from goose feathers were used for writing. Books were rare and expensive.
Most primary students learned their basic lessons from the hornbook, so called because
the material was written on a sheet of parchment, placed on a wooden board shaped like a
paddle, and covered with a thin sheath of transparent cow’s horn for protection.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

The New England Primer
Slightly older children used The New England
Primer. It contained 88 pages, measured 3½ inches
by 4½ inches (Watras, 2008), and was constructed
along the same religious lines as the hornbook. It
has been referred to as “the little Bible of New Eng-
land” (Meriwether, 1978, p. 19). Although differ-
ent editions of the primer varied somewhat in the
200 years of its publication (1690–1886), it usu-
ally began with an alphabet and spelling guide, fol-
lowed by one of the things that made the primer
famous—24 little pictures, mostly biblical inci-
dents, with alphabetical rhymes.

After the alphabetic rhymes came “The Dutiful
Child’s Promise,” which required the young student
to promise as follows:

I will fear GOD, and honor the KING.

I will honor my Father and Mother.

I will Obey my Superiors.

I will Submit to my Elders.

The primer also included the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, a
listing of the books of the Bible, and a list of numbers from 1 to 100, using both Arabic and
Roman numerals. Another prominent feature was a poem, the exhortation of John Rogers to
his children, from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, with a picture of the martyr burning at the
stake as his wife and children look on. The primer ended with a shortened version of the
Puritan catechism (Ford, 1962).

While the primer continued to reinforce religious concepts, by the time of the Revolution,
patriotic rhymes were substituted for some religious themes. For example, “the letter W
referred to George Washington brave who saved his country” and opposition to the monarch
was expressed as “kings and queens are gaudy things” (Watras, 2008, p. 212).

Secondary Education: Latin Grammar Schools

After the primer the child was ready for the study of Latin grammar. This instruction was
either provided by private tutors or, most often, at the Latin grammar school. This was the
most common secondary school during the early colonial period. Public and private Latin
grammar schools existed for the further education of the male children of the well-to-do and
were intended to serve as preparatory schools for the university, where proficiency in Latin
was required for admission. The school day was typically 8 hours long and was held 6 days
a week.

MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The New England Primer was used
in colonial schools for almost two

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Why was proficiency in Latin so central to
secondary and higher education in colonial
America? How valid are these reasons today?

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies
The New England Primer
Slightly older children used The New England
Primer. It contained 88 pages, measured 3½ inches
by 4½ inches (Watras, 2008), and was constructed
along the same religious lines as the hornbook. It
has been referred to as “the little Bible of New Eng-
land” (Meriwether, 1978, p. 19). Although differ-
ent editions of the primer varied somewhat in the
200 years of its publication (1690–1886), it usu-
ally began with an alphabet and spelling guide, fol-
lowed by one of the things that made the primer
famous—24 little pictures, mostly biblical inci-
dents, with alphabetical rhymes.
After the alphabetic rhymes came “The Dutiful
Child’s Promise,” which required the young student
to promise as follows:
I will fear GOD, and honor the KING.
I will honor my Father and Mother.
I will Obey my Superiors.
I will Submit to my Elders.
The primer also included the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, a
listing of the books of the Bible, and a list of numbers from 1 to 100, using both Arabic and
Roman numerals. Another prominent feature was a poem, the exhortation of John Rogers to
his children, from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, with a picture of the martyr burning at the
stake as his wife and children look on. The primer ended with a shortened version of the
Puritan catechism (Ford, 1962).
While the primer continued to reinforce religious concepts, by the time of the Revolution,
patriotic rhymes were substituted for some religious themes. For example, “the letter W
referred to George Washington brave who saved his country” and opposition to the monarch
was expressed as “kings and queens are gaudy things” (Watras, 2008, p. 212).
Secondary Education: Latin Grammar Schools
After the primer the child was ready for the study of Latin grammar. This instruction was
either provided by private tutors or, most often, at the Latin grammar school. This was the
most common secondary school during the early colonial period. Public and private Latin
grammar schools existed for the further education of the male children of the well-to-do and
were intended to serve as preparatory schools for the university, where proficiency in Latin
was required for admission. The school day was typically 8 hours long and was held 6 days
a week.
MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images
The New England Primer was used
in colonial schools for almost two
For Your Reflection and Analysis
Why was proficiency in Latin so central to
secondary and higher education in colonial
America? How valid are these reasons today?

Education at the grammar school was quite dif-
ferent from that of the dame or town schools. The
emphasis was on Latin, with some Greek and occa-
sionally Hebrew. Other disciplines included those
necessary for the Renaissance concept of the edu-
cated man. The course of study in the grammar
school lasted fairly intensively for 6 to 7 years.
Students often withdrew and returned depend-
ing on family circumstances, but because school was conducted on a year-round basis and
instruction was organized around particular texts, it was not difficult to resume study after
an absence (Cremin, 1970).

The first Latin grammar school was established in Boston in 1635. The Boston Latin Gram-
mar School became the model for similar schools throughout New England. Within a decade,
and before the Law of 1647 required them to do so, 7 of the 22 towns in the Bay Colony had
voluntarily established grammar schools (Kraushaar, 1976).

However, the public Latin grammar schools did not necessarily restrict themselves to the
classical curriculum. In towns with only one or two Latin pupils, the schoolmaster spent most
of his time teaching reading, writing, and spelling to both older and younger students (Herbst,
1996). Only in larger cities, with several Latin schools, could the master devote himself to
teaching the classical languages and leave the task of teaching in the lower grades to his assis-
tant, the usher (Herbst, 1996).

Girls did not attend Latin grammar schools. The only girls who received a secondary educa-
tion were those from the more affluent families that could afford to hire a private tutor or to
send them to one of the private schools or female
seminaries that began to emerge in the 18th cen-
tury. Most of these were boarding schools of the
finishing school type. Initially these institutions
were concerned with preparing girls for marriage
and motherhood. Their training focused on the
development of social and domestic skills. It was
not until the second half of the 18th century that
they began to seriously concern themselves with
academic training.

Supervision and Support of the Schools

Schools in colonial New England and elsewhere in the colonies were supported by various
means, including tuition, selected taxes and fees (such as marriage and liquor licenses), and
endowments. Dorchester (Massachusetts) is credited with having made the first public provi-
sion for a school by direct taxation of its inhabitants. The Dorchester Town Records of May 20,
1639, read as follows:

there shall be a rent of £20 a year forever imposed upon Thompson’s Island
to be paid by every person that hath propriety in the said Island according to
the proportion that any such person shall from time to time enjoy and possess

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Speculate on the reasons the private girls’
schools did not seriously consider the academic
training of females until the second half of the
18th century.

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

there and this towards the maintenance of a school in Dorchester. This rent
of £20 yearly to be paid to such a schoolmaster as shall undertake to teach
English, Latin, and other tongues, and also writing. The said schoolmaster to
be chosen from time to time by the freemen, and it is left to the discretion
whether maids shall be taught with the boys or not. (Littlefield, 1965, p. 70)

As the town of Dorchester did in regard to Thompson’s Island, it was common practice for a
town to set aside a parcel of land—often referred to as “school fields” or “school meadows”—
and use the rental income from the land for the support of the town school. However, this
money was generally not enough and was supplemented by taxation or tuition.

Public funding led to public administration. Initially the schools in each town were managed
directly by the general public at the town meeting. As the towns grew in size, they began to
authorize the selectmen, or councilmen, to manage the schools. In time the selectmen formed
special school committees, or, as in Dorchester beginning in 1645, they were elected by the
town as a whole. In fact, Dorchester was the first town to appoint a special committee to over-
see the school (Littlefield, 1965).

According to the Dorchester Town Records, three “able and efficient” men were to be chosen
wardens or overseers of the grammar school and were given the following responsibilities:
(1) to ensure that the school is “supplied with an able and sufficient schoolmaster”; (2) to
ensure that the school is kept in good repair (the selectmen were given the power to “tax
the town with such sums as shall be requested for the repairing of the school-house”); (3) to
ensure that before the end of September “there be brought to the school-house twelve suffi-
cient cart loads of wood for fuel” (the wardens were given the authority to tax the students for
the cost of the wood); and (4) to ensure that the schoolmaster faithfully performs his duties
(Littlefield, 1965).

Higher Education in Early New England

The major function of the Latin grammar school was to prepare young men for college. As
previously noted, despite their location and circumstances, the colonists had a great inter-

est in higher education. This might be because,
by some accounts, 1 out of every 30 of the first
settlers of Massachusetts was a graduate of Cam-
bridge University in England (Meriwether, 1978).
Still others had graduated from Oxford or other
English universities.

Harvard College
The first college in the American colonies, Harvard College, was established in 1636 when the
General Court of Massachusetts supplemented the bequest of the Reverend John Harvard of
his library and half his estate with an appropriation of £400 for a “schoale or college.” Harvard
also received twelve pence a year and a peck of corn from every family in the colony, as well
as the revenue from the ferry between Newtown (Charlestown) and Boston (Tunis, 1957).

For Your Reflection and Analysis
What might account for the fact that the aver-
age English colonist had far more education
than other Englishmen of the day?

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Section 2.1Education in the New England Colonies

The primary motivation for the founding
of Harvard College was religious. Fear-
ful that there would be no replacements
for the ministers who first came with
them, the colonists dreaded “to leave an
illiterate Ministry to the churches, when
our present Ministers should lie in the
Dust.” However, despite their concern
for the training of ministers, neither
Harvard nor the other colonial colleges
were intended to be seminaries. Accord-
ing to its charter of 1650, Harvard was
established for “[t]he advancement and
education of youth in all manner of good
literature, Artes and Sciences.” The 1701

charter of Yale College (originally the Collegiate School) stated its purpose to be to prepare
youth to be “fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State.”

Attendance at Harvard and the other colonial colleges was limited almost exclusively to the
children of the well-to-do. Even within this group a well-defined class system operated. As
late as 1769, the roster of students at Harvard was not listed alphabetically, but according
to social status (Hakim, 1999). Because of the size of the eligible population, as well as their
tuition and exclusivity, the enrollment at the colonial colleges was small. Beginning with its
first graduating class of nine in 1642, Harvard graduated fewer than 10 students per year for
the next 50 years.

The College Curriculum
Until near the end of the 18th century, the faculty of the typical colonial college consisted of
a president (usually a minister) and a few tutors (seldom more than three) who were them-
selves often young men studying for the ministry. Few instructors could be considered “pro-
fessors”—mature men with command of their subject matter (Boorstin, 1958).

Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the curriculum of the university in the
early colonial period was based on the classically oriented pattern of the English university
from which the ministers and tutors, as well as the Puritan leaders, had matriculated. As
Cohen (1974b) described it:

The undergraduate courses revolved around the traditional Trivium and Qua-
drivium but without musical studies, the Three Philosophies (Metaphysics,
Ethics, Natural Science), and Greek, Hebrew, and a chronological study of
ancient history. As in English universities logic and rhetoric were the basic
subjects in the curriculum. . . . Compositions, orations, and disputations were
given the same careful scrutiny as at English universities. (p. 66)

Latin dominated the curriculum. Most of the textbooks were in Latin, and the president gave
his lectures in Latin. Logic and rhetoric required that the student use the Latin language

Everett Collection/SuperStock

Harvard was established to train future ministers,
but it was never intended to be a seminary.

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Section 2.2Education in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies

correctly and effectively (Herbst, 1996). The epitome of efforts to apply the language were
the recitations, declamations, and deputations (debates):

Students recited and declaimed to break the monotony of listening to lectures
and of outlining systems. These oral exercises also served as examinations
and as demonstrations of the students’ acquired verbal skills . . . [this train-
ing] increased the students’ nimbleness of mind and taught them to think
quickly on their feet, to express themselves accurately and with precision,
and to speak effectively, compellingly, and elegantly—all skills of inestimable
value to a future lawyer, minister, physician, statesman, or politician.” (Herbst,
1996, p. 16)

Although their curriculum resembled that of the English universities, colonial colleges dif-
fered in one very important respect from their English ancestors. English universities oper-
ated under a form of academic self-government that reflected their origins as medieval guilds
of learned men. Because no such guilds existed in the colonies, for the simple reason that
there was no sizable body of learned men, control of the colonial colleges fell to representa-
tives of the community (Boorstin, 1958).

Another important way colonial colleges differed
from English colleges was that, unlike Oxford and
Cambridge, which were removed from major com-
mercial and political centers, the early colonial
colleges tended to be located at the center of each
colony’s affairs, thereby symbolically connecting
learning and public life (Boorstin, 1958).

2.2 Education in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies

Whereas the New England colonies were settled primarily by English colonists who shared
the same language, traditions, and religion, the settlers of the Mid-Atlantic colonies (New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) came from a variety of national and reli-
gious backgrounds. Many had fled Europe because of religious persecution and were gen-
erally more distrusting of secular authority than were the New England colonists. Thus,
although the schools in the Mid-Atlantic colonies were as religious in character as those in
New England, because of the diverse religious backgrounds of the settlers, it was not possible
for the government in any colony to agree on the establishment of any one system of state-
supported schools.

Instead, it fell to each denomination to establish its own schools. Perhaps the most active of
these denominational groups was the Anglican Missionary Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), which supported mission clergymen and schoolmasters
in every colony except Virginia and Maryland, where Anglicanism was already established.
Sixty-five of the society’s schoolmasters taught in the American colonies between 1714 and

For Your Reflection and Analysis
What effect might the location of the colonial
college have had on their role and function in
colonial social and public life?

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Section 2.2Education in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies

1763 (Monaghan, 2005). This pattern of pluralistic, parochial schooling discouraged the
establishment of a system of public schools or state support or regulation of the schools. As a
result, many young people, especially those in rural areas, had no access to education beyond
what might be provided in the home.

New York

The Dutch established the colony of New Netherlands in 1621. Earlier exploration of the
region had been undertaken by Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the employ of the Dutch
East India Company. Although profits from the fur trade, more than a quest for religious free-
dom, motivated the early immigrants to New Netherlands, the relationship between church
and state that characterized the New England colonies was also found in New Netherlands.
That is, the close ties between learning and the established faith that existed in Holland were
recreated in New Netherlands, and the state was expected to promote the official church
(Cohen, 1974b).

The Dutch West India Company established schools in 11 communities, some at the insis-
tence of the Dutch settlers who, like those in New England, were concerned lest their chil-
dren grow up without the education necessary for the practice of their religion. Organizers
of new settlements were instructed to include both a minister and a schoolmaster in their
plans (Kraushaar, 1976). Although the Dutch West India Company paid the schoolmasters,
the Dutch Calvinist Church operated the schools and saw to the licensing and supervision of
the masters.

After the British seized New Netherlands and made it the royal colony of New York in 1764,
state responsibility and support for schooling was withdrawn. Except for a few town schools
and a limited number of charity schools, formal schooling became a private concern. Educa-
tion at the elementary level was provided by private tutors for the upper class, private ven-
ture schools for the middle class, and denominational schools such as those operated by the
SPG for the lower class.

Dame schools rarely operated in New York, but the apprenticeship system was very strong
and provided the means by which some children gained a basic education. Overall, however,
because only a few towns established schools, and because the provision of education was
principally left to the will or ability of parents to send their children to private or denomina-
tional schools, the illiteracy rate in New York was high (Cohen, 1974b).

Education at the secondary level was even more exclusively private or parochial. Most schools
had a religious or ethnic affiliation. By 1762 New Amsterdam (New York City) could boast
that it had 10 English, 2 Dutch, 1 French, and 1 Hebrew tuition schools (Kraushaar, 1976).

Higher education was unavailable for any but the few who could afford to leave the colony.
Not until 1754 did the first institution of higher education, Kings College, now Columbia Uni-
versity, open in the colony. In its initial advertisements Kings College said that it would offer a
practical curriculum, but once it began operation, its curriculum differed little from the clas-
sical curriculum of the other colonial colleges (Butts & Cremin, 1953). Kings College was the
first of the colonial American universities to open a law school, in 1755.

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Section 2.2Education in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies

New Jersey

New Jersey began as part of New Netherlands. Once taken over by the English, it became first a
proprietorship (a tract of land granted to one or more proprietors to govern) and then a royal
colony. As in New York, education in New Jersey was primarily private and denominational.
Religious affiliations were diverse, and each of the sects—Dutch Reformed, Puritan, Quaker,
German Lutheran, Baptist, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterian—established its own schools. The
SPG also operated schools for the poor.

A few towns, mainly those in the eastern region settled by the Puritans, established town
schools. Secondary education was limited. Because of the primarily rural, agrarian economy,
the private venture secondary schools found in other Mid-Atlantic colonies were absent.
However, proximity to New York and Philadelphia did provide access to their secondary insti-
tutions for those who could afford them (Cohen, 1974b).

The colony of New Jersey most distinguished itself in the realm of higher education. Prior to
the Revolutionary War, it had founded more colleges than any other colony: the College of
New Jersey, now Princeton University, in 1746, and Queens College, now Rutgers University,
in 1766.


A Quaker, William Penn, founded the Pennsylvania colony in 1681 as a refuge for his fellow
believers. The Quakers, or Society of Friends, were very tolerant of other religions; conse-
quently, a number of different religious groups and sects, including the Dunkards, Lutherans,
Moravians, Mennonites, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, settled in Pennsylvania. Each of these
groups tended to segregate itself and operate its own schools.

Although William Penn advocated free public education “so that youth may be trained up in
virtue and useful knowledge and arts,” and despite the fact that the Pennsylvania Assembly
enacted a law in 1683 providing that all children be instructed in reading and writing and be
taught “some useful trade or skill,” largely as a result of the great diversity among the settlers,
Pennsylvania did not develop a system of free public education.

The apprenticeship system did operate in Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania apprentice-
ship law, like the Massachusetts law, placed obligations on the master to ensure that the
apprentice could read and write. A few community-supported schools were established, but
as in the other Mid-Atlantic colonies, formal education was primarily a private or denomi-
national affair.

The Quakers
The major difference between Pennsylvania and the other Mid-Atlantic colonies was that
the various denominations did, in fact, establish a fairly widespread system of schools there.
The Quakers were the most significant in terms of educational endeavors. More than any
other denominational group, they were responsible for the spread of a liberal philosophy of

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Section 2.2Education in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies

schooling that envisioned public and private schools open to girls as well as boys with both
English and classical curricula and cultural and practical orientations (Kraushaar, 1976).

The Quaker belief that all were created equal under God led not only to the education of both
sexes and to the free admission of the poor, but also to the education of African Americans and
Native Americans. A school for African American children was established in Philadelphia by
the Quaker schoolmaster Anthony Benezet as early as 1770. Benezet, who had earlier (1754)
opened a school for girls, operated the school until his death in 1784 and then endowed it
with all his possessions.

Because Quakers do not have ministers, they were
not interested in the establishment of secondary
schools leading to that vocation. In their second-
ary schools they emphasized practical knowledge
rather than the classical curriculum studied at
most secondary schools at that time.

Other Denominations
Other denominations also worked in Pennsylvania to provide education and advance their
religious doctrines. The SPG founded a number of charity schools, including a school for Afri-
can American children in Philadelphia in 1758. The Moravians also established a number of
elementary schools, including the first nursery school in the colonies. They were also active
in efforts to Christianize and educate the Native Americans. They devised a written script for
several Native American languages and translated the Bible and other religious materials into
these languages.

In 1746 the Moravians established a boarding school for girls at Bethlehem, one of the first
in the colonies. In their pedagogical practices they were influenced by the educational phi-
losophy of the Moravian bishop Jan Amos Comenius, who stressed sensory experiences as
the basis for learning, respect for the individual, freedom, creative activity, instruction in the
vernacular, and universal education.

The various denominations also operated schools at the secondary level. In addition, a num-
ber of private secondary schools were opened in Pennsylvania during the later colonial period,
many offering such practical subjects as navigation, gauging, accounting, geometry, trigo-
nometry, surveying, French, and Spanish. Practical did not mean that the arts were neglected,
though. Notwithstanding the rumblings of the more stern Quakers, private schools offering
drawing, painting, music, and dance for both sexes prospered (Kraushaar, 1976). Among the
private secondary schools operating in Philadelphia was Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia
Academy, opened in 1751, which is discussed further in Section 2.4.

Franklin was also instrumental in the founding of the College of Philadelphia, now the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, in 1753. Unlike its sister institutions, the College of Philadelphia was
nonsectarian in origin (although it later came under Anglican control). The curriculum of the
college was more progressive than that of other institutions. Students were allowed a voice in
the selection of courses, and the curriculum emphasized not only the classics but also math-
ematics, philosophy, and the natural and social sciences. A medical school was established in
connection with the college, the first such college in the colonies.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
What are the most significant ways that educa-
tion in the Mid-Atlantic colonies differed from
that in New England? How would you account
for these differences?

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Section 2.3Education in the Southern Colonies


Delaware, founded in 1638 as a Swedish colony, New Sweden, fell under Dutch control in
1655, then under the rule of the English with their conquest of New Netherlands in 1664.
It was later incorporated into the province of Pennsylvania, but in 1703 organized its own
separate government. Education in Delaware was greatly influenced by Pennsylvania, and
Pennsylvania’s general abandonment of the responsibility for the public provision of educa-
tion after 1683 was followed in Delaware. Although a number of elementary schools were
established in the colony, the level of literacy remained low. During the colonial period, formal
secondary education was available on a very limited basis, and no institution of higher educa-
tion was established in the colony (Cohen, 1974b).

2.3 Education in the Southern Colonies

The Southern colonies (Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia) differed in significant
ways from the New England and Mid-Atlantic colonies. They were royal colonies adminis-
tered by governors responsible directly to the king, and unlike the New England Puritans,
who sought to reform the Church of England, the Southern colonists accepted the Church of
England as the established state church. (The exception was Maryland, which was founded by
Lord Baltimore as a refuge for English Catholics.)

The Church of England asserted that par-
ents, not the government or the church, were
responsible for educating their children. In
fact, Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia
in the 17th century and a Royalist (a supporter
of the English king), thanked God that there
were no free schools or printing presses in
Virginia saying that learning would bring dis-
obedience and heresy and sects into the world

and printing libels against the government. As a result of such sentiments, no legislation was
enacted requiring local governments to support schools.

Another factor influencing the educational development of the Southern colonies was the
economic system operating there. Compared to the New England economy, which was based
on small farms and commerce, the economy of the Southern colonies was based on large plan-
tations where slaves cultivated tobacco, rice, indigo, and, later, cotton.

Many of the original settlers in the Southern colonies had been granted large tracts of land
known as “hundreds.” As tobacco and cotton became profitable crops, they expanded their
holdings into even larger tracts, which became plantations. As a result of the plantation sys-
tem, the relatively small population of the Southern colonies was widely dispersed. This fac-
tor mitigated the development of towns or the concentrations of population necessary to
support public schools.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Why was the Church of England less interested
in ensuring the education of the young than the
Puritans were?

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Section 2.3Education in the Southern Colonies

Elementary and Secondary Education

As a result of the social and economic structure of the Southern colonies, educational oppor-
tunities were determined largely by social class. Although class distinctions existed in all the
colonies (see Table 2.1), they were most pronounced in the South, which had an aristocratic
upper class made up of the plantation owners, small middle and lower classes of Whites, and
a large lower class of slaves.

Table 2.1: Class system in colonial America

Upper Classes of Free Men

In Towns In Rural Regions

Merchants Landed gentry (planters, country gentlemen, patrons)

Magistrates and officials Magistrates

Established clergy Established clergy

Middle Class of Free Men

In Towns In Rural Regions

Substantial shopkeepers Substantial farmers

Master craftsmen Dissenting clergy

Lawyers and college teachers

Lower Classes of Free Men

In Towns In Rural Regions

Mechanics, artisans Small freehold farmers

Clerks in business Renters and tenants

Fisherman and sailors


Servile Classes of Unfree Men

In Towns In Rural Regions

Indentured White servants Indentured White servants and workers

African American servants African American slaves

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Section 2.3Education in the Southern Colonies

Education of the Plantation Aristocracy
The children of the plantation owners and the wealthy commercial classes in the Tidewater,
or coastal, cities received their education from private tutors or at private Latin grammar
schools before being sent to universities. Sometimes one wealthy plantation owner would
hire a tutor who would teach not only his children but also those of relatives or neighbors at
what was, in effect, a plantation boarding school. The tutors typically taught both the sons
and the daughters of the planters. However, the majority of females in the Southern colonies
were totally uneducated and illiterate (Spruell, cited in Szasz, 2007b).

In the early colonial period, the plantation aristocracy often sent their male children to New
England or, more commonly, to Britain to receive their secondary or their university educa-
tions; to the Scottish universities for medicine; to the Inns of Court in London for law; or
to Oxford or Cambridge for mathematics, rhetoric, or philosophy (Bobrick, 1997). In fact,
schoolmasters in England looked for clients in the colonies, and some placed advertisements
in colonial newspapers (Meriwether, 1978). One such advertisement, which appeared in 1769
in the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg, reads as follows:

At the Academy in Leeds, which is pleasantly situated in the county of York
in England, Young Gentlemen are genteely boarded, and diligently instructed
in English, the Classicks, Modern Languages, Penmanship, Arithmetick, Mer-
chants Accounts, Mathematicks, Modern Geography, Experimental Philoso-
phy, and Astronomy, for twenty guineas per annum, if under twelve years of
age, by Mr. Aaron Grimshaw, and able masters. Drawing, Musick, and Dancing,
are extra charges. Due regard is paid to the young Gentlemens health, morals
and behavior. (Cohen, 1974a, p. 473)

By the later colonial period, as the number of colonial colleges grew in number and stature,
the practice of going abroad to receive a university education declined.

Providers of Elementary Education
With the exception of the children of the plantation aristocracy or the wealthy Tidewater
merchants, most other free children in the Southern colonies received at best only an elemen-
tary education. New England’s two-tier pattern of schooling did not develop in the South. And
while there appears to be no relationship between the absence of the two-tier system and the
gender of teachers, it is a fact that fewer females taught in the antebellum South than in the
North (Perlman & Margo, 2001).

Elementary education in the South was provided informally through the apprenticeship sys-
tem or formally at privately endowed free schools, denominational schools, “old field schools,”
or private venture schools. Virginia was the most active of the Southern colonies in attempt-
ing to ensure the education of apprenticed children, especially orphans.

The endowed free schools were few in number and never educated more than a small num-
ber of poor children. The charity schools were operated by the various denominations: The
Catholics operated schools in Maryland; the Presbyterians and Moravians opened schools for

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Section 2.3Education in the Southern Colonies

their followers in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia; and the Anglican SPG was active in all
the colonies. The SPG helped supply teachers, books, and financial support to operate schools
for the most disadvantaged and provided the closest thing to a public school system found in
the South before the Revolutionary War (Cohen, 1974b). The SPG was also almost the only
group attempting to provide education to the slaves.

A common form of schooling in some rural areas where other schooling was not available was
the “old field school.” In this arrangement several small planters or farmers used old tobacco
sheds or built rough schoolhouses on abandoned tobacco fields. These old field schools gen-
erally charged a fee and offered only the most basic education. Often the teacher was a local
clergyman supplementing his salary. According to one historian, the majority of children who
received an education in 17th-century Virginia received their schooling at old field schools
(Bracey, cited in Szasz, 2007b). Even George Washington received a significant portion of his
education at an old field school.

Private venture elementary schools could be found in many of the larger cities of the South.
Private venture schools also operated at the secondary level, as did public grammar schools,
in the larger towns or cities. However, because there were few towns of any size, the private
venture schools were the primary providers of education at the secondary level in the South-
ern colonies. Even these were few. As a result of the public neglect of education, the overall
educational level of the Southern colonies was below that of most of the other colonies, espe-
cially those in New England.

Higher Education: The College of William and Mary
The only institution of higher education established in the South prior to the Revolutionary
War was the College of William and Mary, established in Virginia in 1693 under a charter from
King William III and Queen Mary II of England. An earlier attempt by the Church of England
to establish a college for Native Americans at Henrico, Virginia, had been unsuccessful. The
charter of William and Mary charged it with training ministers and bringing Christianity to
the Native Americans.

Like Harvard, its sister institution in New England and the only older institution of higher
education in the colonies, William and Mary also originally offered the traditional curricu-
lum. However, by the second quarter of the 18th century, it began to broaden its program. It
was the first college to offer an elective system in which students chose their own course of
study. And, perhaps foreshadowing Virginia’s supremacy in the public affairs of the country,
William and Mary emphasized law and politics earlier than any other college in the coun-
try and encouraged the study of history, mathematics, and modern languages (Meriwether,
1978). One educational historian argues that by 1779 its curriculum was probably the most
advanced in the United States (Cohen, 1974b).

Figure 2.1 presents an overview of education in colonial America.

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Section 2.4Education During the Later Colonial Period: The Impact of the Enlightenment

Figure 2.1: Education in colonial America

The New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern colonies let government, religion, and social class dictate
educational opportunities to varying degrees.

Source: Webb, L. D., Metha, A., & Jordan, K. F. (2003). Foundations of American education. (4th ed., p. 99). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/

Prentice Hall.

2.4 Education During the Later Colonial Period:
The Impact of the Enlightenment

The Age of the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, swept the Western world in the 17th
century. In the American colonies, as in Europe, it brought greater concern for independent
rationality, an examination of all beliefs, repudiation of supernatural explanations of phenom-
ena, and a greater questioning of traditional religious dogma. Philosophers, scientists, and
scholars of the period believed that observation and scientific inquiry were the avenues to the
discovery of the “natural laws” that dictated the orderly operation of the universe.

The Enlightenment was a period of rapid expansion of the knowledge base in the natural
and physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering: Newton proposed his theory of grav-
ity, Leeuwenhoek identified bacteria, the first inoculation against smallpox was given, and
the first suspension and iron bridges were built. It also saw the invention of the first steam
engine, water turbine, power loom, cotton gin, and many other machines and processes that
made the Industrial Revolution possible.









New England Colonies
• Tradition of government and religious involvement
and support.
• Two-track system of education: universal, elementary,
secondary only for those preparing for positions of
leadership in the church or government.
• Elementary education: town schools, dame schools,
reading and writing schools, apprentice system, charity
schools. Concerned mainly with the three Rs. Used
material that was religious and authoritarian in nature.
• Secondary education: Latin grammar schools that
taught the classical curriculum, and academies and
private venture schools that taught subjects useful in
trade and commerce.
• Colleges: Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), Brown (1764),
Dartmouth (1766).

Mid-Atlantic Colonies
• Pattern of pluristic, parochial schools, with no government support.
• Somewhat limited elementary education: schools operated primarily by various
• Limited secondary education: a few private venture schools.
• Colleges: Princeton (1746), Pennsylvania (1753), Columbia (1754), Rutgers (1766).

Southern Colonies
• Educational opportunity determined almost exclusively by social class. Elementary
education for other than upper class was provided through apprentice system, endowed
free schools, denomination schools, “old field schools,” and private venture schools.
• Children of upper class attended exclusive private schools or had private tutors.
• Secondary education was available primarily to children of the wealthy through private
schools or tutors, Latin grammer schools, or schooling outside the colonies. A few
private venture schools operated in the large cities.
• College: William and Mary (1693).




East FL



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Section 2.4Education During the Later Colonial Period: The Impact of the Enlightenment

Enlightenment philosophers argued that the natural laws that governed nature also imbued
man with certain rights that existed in nature before men entered civil society. Their rational
examination of all beliefs led them to reject the authority of the church and the absolute rights
of monarchs. They believed not only in the right of the people to govern themselves but also
in their ability to do so. They thus considered education to be an instrument of social reform
and improvement—a belief shared by not only the Founding Fathers, but by all generations
of Americans since.

John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

One of the most important thinkers of the Enlightenment was the English philosopher John
Locke. Though best known for his political theories, which served as the basis for the Ameri-
can and French constitutions, Locke also had a profound influence on education. He is associ-
ated with the school of thought called sense realism, which asserts that man learns best
through sensory experiences. The senses gather and transmit data to the mind to be sorted,
classified, and categorized. Locke thus favored the inductive reasoning and the scientific
method for their focus on the gathering and analysis of evidence.

In Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Locke rec-
ommended a curriculum that included, beyond the
three Rs, history, geography, ethics, philosophy, sci-
ence, and conversational foreign languages, espe-
cially French. He also emphasized mathematics, not
to make the scholar a mathematician, but to make
him a reasonable man. The curriculum Locke recom-
mended anticipated that of the academy described
in the next section. As evidenced in the writings of
the Founding Fathers, which he influenced deeply,
Locke believed the goal of education was to create
the moral, practical individual who could partici-
pate effectively in the governing process.

Locke’s political philosophy, in keeping with his
respect for the lessons of science, proposed that
there were inherent laws of nature and that asso-
ciated with these natural laws man had certain
natural rights. These natural rights came from
God or nature, not from rulers or governments.
Among these rights, according to Locke, were those
espoused in the Declaration of Independence—life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A century later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, another philosopher who is also best remembered
for his political theories, continued to advance the natural law argument. Rousseau was
associated with an educational movement called naturalism. Its emphasis on freedom and
the individual has had a significant influence on educational theory and practice. His book,
Social Contract, which argued against the divine right of kings to rule and for the right of the
people to self-govern, had a major influence on the thinking of those involved in both the
French and American revolutions.

Fine Art Images/SuperStock

The English philosopher John Locke
influenced not only the political views
of the Founding Fathers but also the
curriculum of colonial schools.

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Section 2.4Education During the Later Colonial Period: The Impact of the Enlightenment

The Impact of Social and Economic Changes on Education

At the same time that the philosophy of the Enlightenment was sweeping the colonies, their
population and economy grew rapidly. The population of 18th-century New England increased
at a rate of 28% per decade, so that by 1760 the population had reached 450,000 (Watras,
2008). In many cases the economy outgrew its localized base of farming and fishing. Trans-
portation and communication improved, trade and commerce increased, and cities and towns
flourished and spread throughout the region. The application of the concept of natural laws to
economics and capitalism (for example, the ownership of property and the profit motive) was
associated with the emergence of a new mercantile gentry and a growing middle class.

The growth in trade and commerce placed new demands on education. For example, the ship
owners of New England needed navigators to chart courses for their journeys, surveyors
were needed to lay out the lands of the expanding frontier, and bookkeepers and scribes were
needed to keep the accounts and records of ever larger businesses and agricultural enter-
prises. At the same time, the budding city life supported by increased affluence and leisure
time created demands for the “arts of polite society” (Cohen, 1974a, p. xvii).

The classical curriculum of the Latin grammar school was not prepared to meet these needs.
As a result, during the first half of the 18th century, numerous private venture schools, the
so-called English schools, sprang up in the larger towns, teaching subjects useful in trade and
commerce (as well as the classical languages for those who wanted them). The newspapers of
the time were filled with advertisements for these schools. One such advertisement, appear-
ing in 1723, read as follows:

There is a school in New York, in the Broad Street, near the Exchange, where
Mr. John Walton, late of Yale College, Teacheth Reading, Writing, Arethmatick,
whole Numbers and Fractions, Vulgar and Decimal, The Mariners Art, Plain
and Mercators Way; Also Geometry, Surveying, the Latin Tongue, the Greek and
Hebrew Grammers, Ethicks, Rhetorick, Logick, Natural Philosophy and Meta-
physicks, all or any of them for a Reasonable Price. The School from the first of
October till the first of March will be tended in the Evening. If any Gentlemen
in the Country are disposed to send their Sons to the said School, if they apply
themselves to the Master he will immediately procure suitable Entertainment
for them, very Cheap. Also if any Young Gentlemen of the City will please to
come in the Evening and make some Tryal of the Liberal Arts, they may have
the opportunity of Learning the same things which are commonly Taught in
Colledges. (American Weekly Mercury, cited in Cubberley, 1934, p. 83)

These schools were operated by ministers, teachers, enterprising tradesmen or craftsmen,
or dames who set up their own shops and charged what the traffic would bear to whom-
ever could afford to pay for it (Kraushaar, 1976). Day schools, evening schools, early morning
schools, even correspondence schools offered group or tutorial instruction (Cohen, 1974a).
Girls were allowed to attend the English schools but often had to attend in separate classes.
The private venture or English schools served an important role in the transfer of vocational
education from the family and apprenticeships to the school (Cohen, 1974a).

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Section 2.4Education During the Later Colonial Period: The Impact of the Enlightenment

The Rise of the Academy

The private venture or English schools were not permanent, however. Rather, they served
as a transition between the grammar school, which offered a classical education, and the
academy, which offered a more practical education including English, accounting, modern
languages, and the natural sciences. Academies as educational institutions in the colonies
began to emerge in the mid-18th century. One of the earliest and strongest supporters of the
academy was Benjamin Franklin. He believed that “the rigid classical curriculum had degen-
erated into a shibboleth of the learned class and that the grammar school, whose chief ben-
eficiaries were the ministry, the scholar, and the gentleman, was an anachronism” (Kraushaar,
1976, p. 19).

Franklin was strongly influenced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment, particularly John
Locke, and was a proponent of a practical education to prepare the skilled craftsmen, busi-
nessmen, and farmers needed in the colonies. In his 1747 Proposals Relating to the Education
of Youth in Pennsylvania, Franklin laid out the plan for an academy in which English rather
than Latin was to be the medium of instruction.

This break with tradition was important because it proposed, in effect, that vernacular Eng-
lish could be the language of the educated person. Also breaking with tradition, Franklin
made no provision for religious instruction other than for a course in the history of religion.
He proposed that students be taught “those Things that are likely to be most useful and most
ornamental. Regard being had to the several Professions which they are intended.”

In 1751, with the support of several wealthy Philadelphians, Franklin’s academy opened. Very
soon it became clear that Franklin’s vision for the school was not to be realized. Although he
had believed that Latin and Greek were useless for all but a very limited number of pursuits,
he had included them in the curriculum for those who might want them. However, the person
hired to head the academy, the Anglican minister, Reverend William Smith, was an avowed
classist who favored the classical masters over the English masters. For example, the Latin
master was paid £200 per year to teach 20 students, whereas the English master was paid
£100 to teach 40 students. And, while the Latin master was given £100 to spend on books and
maps, the English master was given nothing (Blinderman, 1976).

As time passed, under pressure from some of the trustees, Franklin’s academy gave less
emphasis to the practical studies and came to more closely resemble the Latin grammar
school (Durham, 1997). In 1753 it was rechartered as the College, Academy, and Charitable
School of Philadelphia, and in 1779 was renamed the University of Pennsylvania.

Although Franklin’s academy did not survive as he
intended, others, such as Phillips Andover Acad-
emy, founded in 1778, did. As will be discussed in
Chapter 4, from its beginnings in New England, the
academy movement spread west and south and
became the primary provider of secondary educa-
tion prior to the Civil War.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
What might Franklin think about today’s
service learning requirements?

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Articles of Beliefs and Acts of Religion

Articles of Beliefs and Acts of Religion

Section 2.5The Colonial Schoolmaster

Expansion of Higher Education

Until 1747 there were only three colleges in the colonies—Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary.
Then, the Great Awakening of Protestant evangelical religious fervor and renewal that swept
the colonies in the mid-18th century brought with it an increased sectarianism that resulted
in every religious sect wanting to establish its own college. By the beginning of the Revolution-
ary War, nearly every major Christian sect had established its own institution of higher educa-
tion: the New-Side Presbyterians founded Princeton; Dutch Reformed revivalists founded Rut-
gers; Baptist revivalists founded Brown; and the Anglicans and Presbyterians cooperated in the
founding of Kings College (Columbia) and the College of Pennsylvania (Boorstin, 1958).

In 1769 a Congregational minister, Eleazer Wheelock, established Dartmouth College as a col-
lege for Native Americans. According to its charter, Dartmouth was to educate the “youth of
the Indian tribes in this land in reading, writing, and all parts of learning which shall appear
necessary and expedient for civilizing and Christianizing the Children of gajens, as well as in
all liberal arts and sciences.” On a per capita basis, the nine colonial colleges represented a
much greater dispersion of higher education than was to be found in England, where access
was reserved for the privileged few (Cohen, 1974a).

In the period from 1717 to 1747, about 1,400 students (all men) graduated from the colonial
colleges; in the next 30 years more than twice that number graduated. About half of these
matriculated from the newly founded colleges. However, even though each new college had
been founded by a particular denomination, and the president was a member of that denomi-
nation, few places had enough college-bound youth of a particular denomination to compose
an entire student body. The student bodies of these colleges, therefore, were interdenomina-
tional (Boorstin, 1958).

The curriculum of many of the colleges of this era began to reflect the growing secularism
of the society. In 1722 Harvard established its first professorship in the secular subjects of
mathematics and natural philosophy. By 1760 the scientific subjects accounted for 20% of
the curriculum. Another sign of the growing secularism was the change in graduates’ careers.
Although theology remained the most popular, an increasing number of graduates turned to
law, medicine, trade, and commerce as the New England colleges became centers of indepen-
dence, stimulation, and social usefulness (Cohen, 1974b).

2.5 The Colonial Schoolmaster

In colonial America teachers ranged from the widows or housewives in dame schools to
college-educated masters in the grammar schools. Most teachers were men who did not
intend to make teaching a career. Often they were young men who taught for only a short
time before studying for the ministry or were established clergymen needing to supplement
their income. Then as now, some individuals taught because they either were not admitted to
or had failed at their chosen professions.

Given the strong relationship between church and education, more often than not teachers
were chosen more for their religious orthodoxy than their educational qualifications. The
criteria for the licensing of teachers outlined in the Massachusetts Act of 1654 clearly demon-
strate that religious, not professional, qualification was the primary consideration in the hir-
ing of a teacher:

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Should teachers today be held to a higher stan-
dard of moral conduct than other members of
the community?

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 58 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.5The Colonial Schoolmaster

From the Archives: Duties of a Schoolmaster, 1645
The daily duties of a Schoolmaster in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1645 include such tasks as
morning and evening prayer, instructing students in good manners and dutiful behaviors, and using
the “rod of correction.”

“First. That the schoolmaster shall diligently attend his school and do his utmost
endeavor for benefiting his scholars according to his best discretion.

“Second. That from the beginning of the first month until the end of the seventh, he
shall every day begin to teach at seven of the clock in the morning and dismiss his
school at five in the afternoon. And for the other five months, that is, from the begin-
ning of the eighth to the end of the twelfth month he shall every day begin at eight of
the clock in the morning and end at four in the afternoon.

“Thirdly. Every day in the year the usual time of dismissing at noon shall be at eleven
and to begin again at one, except that

“Fourthly. Every second day in the week he shall call his scholars together between
twelve and one of the clock to examine them what they have learned on the sabbath
day preceding, at which time he shall take notice of any misdemeanor or outrage
that any of his scholars shall have committed on the sabbath to the end that at some
convenient time due admonition and correction may be administered.

“Fifthly. He shall equally and impartially receive and instruct such as shall be sent
and committed to him for that end whether their parents be poor or rich, not refus-
ing any who have right and interest in the school.

“Sixthly. Such as shall be committed to him he shall diligently instruct, as they shall be
able to learn, both in humane learning and good literature, and likewise in point of good


Expansion of Higher Education
Until 1747 there were only three colleges in the colonies—Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary.
Then, the Great Awakening of Protestant evangelical religious fervor and renewal that swept
the colonies in the mid-18th century brought with it an increased sectarianism that resulted
in every religious sect wanting to establish its own college. By the beginning of the Revolution-
ary War, nearly every major Christian sect had established its own institution of higher educa-
tion: the New-Side Presbyterians founded Princeton; Dutch Reformed revivalists founded Rut-
gers; Baptist revivalists founded Brown; and the Anglicans and Presbyterians cooperated in the
founding of Kings College (Columbia) and the College of Pennsylvania (Boorstin, 1958).
In 1769 a Congregational minister, Eleazer Wheelock, established Dartmouth College as a col-
lege for Native Americans. According to its charter, Dartmouth was to educate the “youth of
the Indian tribes in this land in reading, writing, and all parts of learning which shall appear
necessary and expedient for civilizing and Christianizing the Children of gajens, as well as in
all liberal arts and sciences.” On a per capita basis, the nine colonial colleges represented a
much greater dispersion of higher education than was to be found in England, where access
was reserved for the privileged few (Cohen, 1974a).
In the period from 1717 to 1747, about 1,400 students (all men) graduated from the colonial
colleges; in the next 30 years more than twice that number graduated. About half of these
matriculated from the newly founded colleges. However, even though each new college had
been founded by a particular denomination, and the president was a member of that denomi-
nation, few places had enough college-bound youth of a particular denomination to compose
an entire student body. The student bodies of these colleges, therefore, were interdenomina-
tional (Boorstin, 1958).
The curriculum of many of the colleges of this era began to reflect the growing secularism
of the society. In 1722 Harvard established its first professorship in the secular subjects of
mathematics and natural philosophy. By 1760 the scientific subjects accounted for 20% of
the curriculum. Another sign of the growing secularism was the change in graduates’ careers.
Although theology remained the most popular, an increasing number of graduates turned to
law, medicine, trade, and commerce as the New England colleges became centers of indepen-
dence, stimulation, and social usefulness (Cohen, 1974b).
2.5 The Colonial Schoolmaster
In colonial America teachers ranged from the widows or housewives in dame schools to
college-educated masters in the grammar schools. Most teachers were men who did not
intend to make teaching a career. Often they were young men who taught for only a short
time before studying for the ministry or were established clergymen needing to supplement
their income. Then as now, some individuals taught because they either were not admitted to
or had failed at their chosen professions.
Given the strong relationship between church and education, more often than not teachers
were chosen more for their religious orthodoxy than their educational qualifications. The
criteria for the licensing of teachers outlined in the Massachusetts Act of 1654 clearly demon-
strate that religious, not professional, qualification was the primary consideration in the hir-
ing of a teacher:
For Your Reflection and Analysis
Should teachers today be held to a higher stan-
dard of moral conduct than other members of
the community?

Forasmuch as it greatly concernes the welfare of this countrje that the youth
thereof be educated, not only in good literature, but sound doctrjne, this Court
doth therefore commend it to the serious consideratjon and special care of
the Overseers of the colledge and the selectmen in the severall tounes, not to
admitt or suffer any such to be contjnewed in the office or place of teaching,
educating, or instructing of youth or child in the colledge or schooles that have
manifested themselves vnsound in the faith or scandalous in theire lives, and
not giving due satisfaction according to the rules of Christ.

Colonial teachers at the secondary level were often
viewed as assistant pastors and in addition to their
teaching duties were expected to perform vari-
ous duties related to the functioning of the church,
including such things as ringing the bell for wor-
ship, leading the choir, leading prayers, or filling in
for the pastor in his absence. Typical of the teaching
duties expected of the grammar schoolmaster were
those detailed by the town of Dorchester in 1645
and presented in the From the Archives feature box.

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Section 2.5The Colonial Schoolmaster

It was not uncommon in colonial America to
find teachers who were indentured servants—
persons who had sold their services for a period of
years in exchange for passage to the New World.
Many of these indentured servant teachers, espe-
cially during the 18th century, were Irish schoolmas-
ters. Indeed, a large number of nonindentured Irish
schoolmasters also came to the colonies after the
passage in Ireland of the Laws for the Suppression
of Popery, commonly known as the Penal Laws. The
Penal Laws of 1695 forbade any Catholic from teach-
ing school upon penalty of fine or imprisonment.

Many of the Irish teachers were graduates of prestigious Trinity College in Dublin. They were
generally the younger sons of well-to-do families who, unable to obtain suitable employment
at home, “sought the congenial employment of teaching for which there was a demand in the
various American communities” (Houston, cited in O’Brien, 1917, p. 54). In some colonies,
especially Pennsylvania and New York, the provision of education was almost totally depen-
dent on the immigrant Irish schoolmasters (O’Brien, 1917).

From the Archives: Duties of a Schoolmaster, 1645 (continued)

manners and dutiful behaviour towards all, especially their superiors as they shall have
occasion to be in their presence whether by meeting them in the street or otherwise.

“Seventhly. Every sixth day in the week at two of the clock in the afternoon he shall
catechise his scholars in the principles of Christian religion, either in some Catechism
which the wardens shall provide and present, or in defect thereof in some other.

“Eighthly. And because all man’s endeavors without the blessing of God needs be
fruitless and unsuccessful, therefore it is a chief part of the schoolmaster’s religious
care to commend his scholars and his labors amongst them unto God by prayer morn-
ing and evening, taking care that his scholars do reverently attend during the same.

“Ninthly. And because the rod of correction is an ordinance of God necessary some-
times to be dispensed unto children, but such as may easily be abused by overmuch
severity and rigor on one hand, or by overmuch indulgence and lenity on the other,
it is therefore ordered and agreed that the schoolmaster for the time being shall
have full power to administer correction to all or any of his scholars without respect
of persons, according as the nature and quality of the offence shall require.” The
rule further requires that the parents “shall not hinder the master therein” but if
aggrieved they can complain to the wardens “who shall hear and impartially decide
between them.”

Duties of a Schoolmaster, from Elwood Cubberley, 1934.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
The shortage of teachers in some districts
today has resulted in the recruiting of teachers
from a number of countries, including Ireland.
Compare the personal and professional immi-
gration experiences of Irish teachers of the 17th
century with those of today.

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 60 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.5The Colonial Schoolmaster

Pioneers of Education: Christopher Dock
Father of American Pedagogy

Christopher Dock was born in Germany in the late 1690s and
immigrated to the colony of Pennsylvania in 1714. After teaching for
4 years at a private school, Dock opened a school among the Mennonites
at Skippark in Philadelphia County, where, with the exception of a
decade (1728–1738) he taught for the remainder of his life.

In contrast to most colonial schoolmasters of the day, Dock rejected
harsh discipline and physical punishment and used more gentle
methods such as persuasion and encouragement to foster learning.
He also emphasized the importance of individualized instruction.
Dock believed that teaching was a calling, not just a part-time job or
something to be done while waiting for something better to come

In 1650 Dock wrote the first book on pedagogy (learning to teach). School Management/Schulornung,
but it was not published until 1770, a year before his death. The book was published by Christopher
Saur, the father of one of Dock’s pupils who was familiar with Dock’s methods. Saur believed that
other teachers would benefit from Dock’s description of his methods and his experiences. And
indeed the work was republished many times over the next hundred years and undoubtedly had a
profound influence on teachers in the Pennsylvania area. Dock also published a second book that was
widely used in the colonies, A Hundred Rules for the Conduct of Children, which was intended to let
not only teachers but also other adults know how children were expected to act. Dock is also known
as the inventor of the blackboard, which has impacted classroom instruction ever since.

Christopher Dock died in 1771. Accounts of his death tell that when he failed to return home at his
usual time he was found at the school, on his knees where it had been his custom to pray every day
for his students.

Steve Campbell
Christopher Dock

Teacher Training

Colonial teachers received no formal training. Perhaps the closest to any teacher preparation
was that received by those individuals who entered teaching after serving as apprentices to
schoolmasters. The first book on pedagogy printed in America was written by Christopher
Dock, an 18th-century German Mennonite schoolmaster in Pennsylvania.

In School-Management/Schulordnung, a selection from which serves as a Primary Source
Readings for this chapter, Dock admonished schoolmasters to use corporal punishment only
as a last resort and asserted that it was better to bring a child to do something out of love
than the fear of punishment. He advised the use of group praise or rebuke to motivate or pun-
ish. He also advised that teachers recognize pupils’ individual differences, including religious

Teacher Licensing and Pay

The hiring and licensing of teachers in New England was deemed to be the responsibility of
the selectmen of a town, often with the assistance of the minister. The role of the minister was
made clearer and stronger in 1701 by an act of the Massachusetts General Court (the colonial
legislature), which required that every grammar schoolmaster “be approved by the ministers

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Section 2.6Education of Minorities in Colonial America

of the town, and the ministers of the two next adjacent towns, or any two of them, by certifi-
cate under their hand” (Acts and Resolution, 1701, p. 470).

The law sought not only to ensure that those most able to judge the qualifications of the
grammar schoolmaster to teach Latin and Greek were involved in the selection of the master,
but also to prevent favoritism by requiring the signature of at least one out-of-town minister
(Cole, 1956).

The act of 1701 applied only to the licensing of grammar schoolmasters. Less than a dozen
years later, in 1712, the Massachusetts General Court gave the selectmen of each town the
authority to license elementary teachers:

[N]o person or persons shall or may presume to set up or keep a school for the
teaching or instructing of children or youth in reading, writing, or any other
science, but such as are of sober and good conversation, and have the allow-
ance and approbation of the selectmen of the town in which any school is to
be kept. (Acts and Resolutions, 1712, pp. 681–682)

Typically, the selectmen would involve the minister in the selection of the schoolmaster. Thus,
by 1712 the system of licensing schoolmasters had been established: The legislature estab-
lished general qualifications that were applied at the local level. This was in keeping with the
general philosophy of local control that characterized the educational systems of the New
England colonies (Cole, 1956) and that ultimately came to characterize education in all 50

In the Mid-Atlantic colonies teachers were certified by the royal proprietor, the royal gover-
nor, or the religious group who employed them (such as the SPG). In New Netherlands the
governor, acting under the authority of the Dutch West India Company, certified teachers. In
the South, where the Church of England was the established church, as in England, teachers
were certified by the Bishop of London.

The pay given the colonial schoolmaster was often not in hard currency, but in room and
board. Schoolmasters often moved from the home of the parents of one student to that of
another, a practice referred to as “boarding ‘round.” Teachers were also paid in whatever
kind of product or produce might be available to parents. According to some accounts, in
one school in Salem, “one scholar was always seated at the windows to study and also to hail
passers-by and endeavor to sell to them the accumulations of corn, vegetables, etc., which had
been given in payment to the teacher” (Glubok, 1969, p. 18).

2.6 Education of Minorities in Colonial America

As previously noted, the first African Americans came to the American colonies in 1619, not
as slaves, but as indentured servants. However, the demand for cheap labor for the Southern
plantations soon brought an extension of the African slave trade to the colonies. For the same
price that an English or Irish servant could be bought for 7 years, an African slave could be
bought for life (Bennett, 1976). Acting in a way that would change American history, in the
1660s Virginia and Maryland enacted legislation that made all bonded slaves, as well as the

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Section 2.6Education of Minorities in Colonial America

children of all female slaves, slaves for life. By the beginning of the Revolutionary War, half a
million African Americans lived in the colonies, most as slaves in the South.

What education was provided to most African Americans, free or slave, was provided by mis-
sionary or charitable organizations, although a limited number of slave owners did provide
minimal literacy training to their slaves so they could read the Bible or better attend to their
owners’ affairs. The missionary group that showed the greatest interest in the education of
both African Americas and Native Americans was the SPG.

Schooling for African Americans

The SPG was active in establishing schools for African American children in larger towns such
as New York and Philadelphia, where concentrations of slaves could be found. They also ven-
tured into Puritan New England and were, in fact, encouraged by such prominent Puritans as
Cotton Mather, who for a short period himself operated a charity school for African Ameri-
cans and Native Americans.

The SPG was also very active in the Southern colonies, where it sought to assure the slave own-
ers that they could allow slaves to become Christians and literate without letting them be free.
In one unique endeavor the SPG purchased two slaves and trained them to serve as teachers
in a school in Charleston, South Carolina. The school was apparently well attended, although
probably more by free African Americans than slaves as had been originally intended. How-
ever, the Negro Act of 1740, enacted in South Carolina following the 1739 Stono slave rebel-
lion, when 22 Whites were killed, made teaching a slave to write a crime. Georgia followed
suit in 1755. Because of the necessity of reading to Christian instruction, reading was not
prohibited (Monaghan, 2005).

In 1800 South Carolina expanded the prohibition against educating slaves to slave meetings
“for purposes of mental instruction.” The fear that education contributed to slave unrest led
slave owners in other states to curtail any educational activities for or by slaves. Nevertheless,
some religious groups as well as slave owners and slaves continued in their efforts to provide
reading instruction. Although there is no real way to determine how many slaves were liter-
ate, it has been estimated that despite the obstacles, 5% of the slave population was literate
in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War (King, 1995).

Deculturation and the “Civilizing” of Native Americans

Many of the denominational and philanthropic groups that were involved in the education of
African Americans were also involved in efforts to bring education to Native Americans. As
noted previously, the SPG, Quakers, Moravians, and other denominations established schools
in the larger towns. Yet their activities were undertaken in near total ignorance of and disre-
gard for tribal methods of education. The schools engaged in both

deculturation and enculturation of an absolute kind. They generally accepted
Indian potential for ‘uplift,’ but sought the utter extirpation of the tribal cul-
ture and the inculcation of English ideas of religion and ‘civility,’ down to the
smallest details of appearance and behavior. (Coleman, 1993, p. 37)

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Section 2.6Education of Minorities in Colonial America

Another approach, one that continued into the 20th century, was to separate the “civilized”
or would-be civilized Native Americans from the tribe. In 1651 John Eliot, the “Apostle to the
Indians,” established the first of the so-called praying towns, where converted Native Ameri-
cans dressed, ate, and lived like the English, were subject to English laws, attended church
and school, and were discouraged from the practice of traditional Native American customs
and habits.

Eliot learned the Algonquian language from a Native American servant and translated the
New Testament into Algonquian. In 1664 he published the complete Bible in Algonquian—
the first Bible printed in the American colonies. Most of the praying towns were disbanded by
the Massachusetts General Court following King Philip’s War (1675–1676), which caught the
Praying Indians in the middle between the warring tribes and the English, and created dis-
trust among the English colonists.

An approach similar in theory to the
praying towns was used a century
later by Eleazar Wheelock, the founder
of Dartmouth College, when he opened
Moor’s Indian Charity School in Leba-
non, Connecticut, in 1754. Wheelock’s
educational regime sought to Chris-
tianize and “civilize” Native American
students “in isolation from the savage
and pernicious influence of their fami-
lies and villages” (Rice, 2010, p. 49).

Although some Native Americans did
settle in the praying towns, attend
denominational schools, and even
attend such colleges as Harvard and
Dartmouth, many did so because they
saw it as a way of survival. Most Native
Americans were not convinced of the

superiority or even equality of the education offered by the colonial schools and were unwill-
ing to pay the price to receive it—that is, to convert to Christianity and give up their Native
American customs and traditions.

Nonetheless, and despite its limited success, the
colonial approach to Native American educa-
tion continued in modified form into the 20th
century. Missionaries, subsidized by private and
public funds, continued to carry both Christianity
and “civilization” to the Native Americans. Read-
ing, writing, arithmetic, and religious catechism
remained at the heart of their efforts, and parents

continued to be asked to give their children over to boarding schools to be educated and civi-
lized. To the English colonists, and later to the Anglo Americans, the school became the tool
for assimilation of the Native American.

Universal Images Group/SuperStock

John Eliot, “Apostle to the Indians,” published the
first Bible printed in the American colonies.

For Your Reflection and Analysis
Why did White Americans try to force assimila-
tion on Native Americans but block the assimi-
lation of African Americans?

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

2.7 Summary and Resources

Much has changed in the almost 400 years since the first settlers arrived at what became the
American colonies. But in many very important ways the beliefs, ideas, and practices of colo-
nial America are reflected in 21st-century American life. The beliefs and values of Protestant
New England—that every person must be literate and that education contributes to the gen-
eral welfare of society—as well as the whole set of virtues associated with what has become
known as the Protestant work ethic are touted as core values and beliefs of American culture.

In the colonial period some of the basic foundations of the present educational system were
established. Perhaps the most fundamental and treasured of these is local control. Almost
400 years after the first selectmen met to make decisions about the local school, boards of
local citizens still meet to hire teachers, select textbooks and teaching materials, and decide
on the support to be given the local schools. An important corollary foundation laid during
the colonial period was public support for the schools. Although the schools were not yet
free, and the early education laws were not enforced, the precedent for public support was

The seeds were also planted in colonial America for some of the least positive aspects of
American life, particularly those related to issues of social justice. The institution of African
slavery was established in the Southern colonies during this period, and the marked class dif-
ferences that had been so much a part of the colonists’ European heritage continued to domi-
nate almost all aspects of colonial life. Then, as is still true today, the wealth of the parent was
a major determinant of the quality and quantity of education the child received.

Also still remaining, many education critics would argue (see, for example, Orfield, 2001), are
the racism and sexism that characterized colonial education. In addition, the colonial belief
that the best way to “civilize” the Native Americans was to separate them from the tribe con-
tinued into the 20th century.

The colonial legacy is also evident in many other aspects of American education. Some of the
regional educational differences among the colonies exist today: For example, in many parts
of the South, schools still struggle to overcome the neglect that has its origins in colonial
governments. Also, in many ways the status of the teacher has not changed significantly since
the days of Christopher Dock. That is to say, although teaching has come to be considered a
profession with established requirements for entry and licensure, it remains a relatively low-
status, low-paying occupation.

For Discussion and Application

1. What, if any, reminders of Puritan education were evident in the schools you

2. In the interest of the “general welfare,” should the federal government attempt to
eliminate regional educational differences?

3. Franklin proposed that students be taught those things that are “most useful” and
“ornamental.” On what basis should these be determined by a school or community?

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

4. Explain the influence of the philosophy of the Enlightenment on education in the
later colonial period.

5. Interview a practicing teacher (or draw from your own experience as a teacher) and
compare the personal and professional roles and expectations of colonial teachers
with those of contemporary teachers.

Primary Source Readings
Dame schools run by widows or housewives in their homes provided the most basic education
to young children of both sexes. The one described in this selection from the memoir of Laura
Russell was located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Laura began attending the school at about age
2, and for the sum of 8 cents a week received instruction in reading, spelling, and sewing from

A Dame School in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Laura Russell

Our education began at a very early age, from twenty months to two years being considered
a proper time for us to enter the infant school. As one child after another was added to the
family and our mother’s cares increased, this school served as a sort of day-nursery. It was but
a short distance from our house and was taught by an old dame whom we always addressed
as “Marm.” She was an excellent woman and filled the duties of nurse as faithfully as those of
teacher. She usually wore an Indigo blue calico gown with small white spots, a mob cap with
a broad band of black ribbon tied into a large bow in front and round-eyed spectacles, with
heavy iron frames. The house was old and small and there seemed to be a perpetual colony
of skunks under it which occasionally caused great excitement among us and was a source of
much annoyance to the old lady who tried in vain to hire some one to rout them. She used to
say that if needle, thimble and scissors would do it she need not call upon anybody for help. . . .

The schoolroom was small and of irregular shape with an open fireplace in one corner. . . .
Next to the fireplace was a closet where among the dishes always stood a little black teapot
whose supply of the drink which cheers seemed to be as unfailing as that of the widow’s cruse,
for though “Marm” made frequent demands upon it, the contents were never exhausted. Her
method of drinking was somewhat primitive and would hardly meet with favor at a fashion-
able afternoon tea. She considered a cup quite unnecessary preferring the simpler way of
taking the spout into her mouth.

The old lady began each morning’s session by reading a chapter from the Bible, rapping on its
cover with her steel tailor’s thimble as a signal for us to range ourselves in a semicircle about
her chair and listen to the Holy Word. It is doubtful if these lessons had the intended effect for
the only recollection of them which I retain is the frequent repetition of the word “Selah” from
which it may be inferred that the Psalms were her favorite selection. In after years when asked
the meaning of the word, she frankly replied that she did not know, and being further ques-
tioned as to why she read it, she answered, “Because it’s in the Bible, dear.” The great Bible lay
upon a table under the looking-glass between the windows and, with the Old Farmer’s Alma-
nac, constituted the old lady’s entire library. On the sacred volume and the almanac was a small
wooden box into which at the close of each day we dropped our little brass thimbles and our
bit of patchwork with its irregular, blackened stitches piled one upon another after having been
many times picked out and re-sewed with squeaking, crooked needle and tear-dimmed eyes.

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

The white unpainted floor of the schoolroom was bare with the exception of a braided mat
in front of “Marm’s” chair, but in place of a carpet there was a liberal sprinkling of beach
sand which was renewed every week, and ornamented by being herring-boned with a broom.
The only school furniture was a number of low wooden crickets which were placed in a row
through the middle of the room, and which were sometimes supplemented with a block or
two under the windows, when the school was crowded. The crickets were worn smooth and
shiny from long wriggling of the little unsupported forms daily seated upon them, the knots
being conspicuous for their high polish. Each child carried its cricket at night into the adjoin-
ing room, and returned it to its place the next morning, the school room serving also for par-
lor and bedroom.

Occasionally we got a slight rap on the head from the tailor’s thimble, but the only other
punishment that I remember was when an aggravated offence brought from “Marm” the com-
mand, “Take your cricket and go down to Bantam,” Bantam being the farther corner of the
room occupied by an old roundabout chair. I have never been able to trace the origin of this
word nor do I know whether it referred to the corner or the chair, but the punishment was
resorted to as an extreme measure and to us meant not only deep disgrace but almost Sibe-
rian exile.

Into this seminary we were initiated at the tender age before-mentioned and sent with unde-
viating regularity twice a day with the exception of Saturday when we were allowed a half-
holiday. No storm was so fierce, no snow so deep, no cold so intense as to interfere with the
inflexible rule of daily attendance at school. . . . When the weather was unfavorable, it was our
custom as well as that of other children to take a little basket of luncheon and remain through
the noon recess. As “Marm” depended upon her after dinner nap, our amusements were nec-
essarily much restricted. When we grew too noisy, we were checked with the admonition,
“Let your victuals stop your mouth.” The old dame must have looked forward to Saturday
with delightful anticipation. At the close of the morning session she was not only relieved of
all care of the children till the following Monday, but was at liberty to pass the rest of the day
with her son and his family. In winter she donned her scarlet cloth cloak with its numerous
little capes, being kept from these weekly visits only by sickness or very severe weather.

In the room adjoining the schoolroom a bucket of water always stood on a table and near it
a large pewter vessel in size and shape somewhat resembling a beer-mug. When we were
very good, we were allowed to hand water around to the children, passing the pewter mug
from one to another without refilling till the supply was exhausted. This was a much coveted
office, but like other positions of honor and trust, it had its drawbacks. When my turn came, I
remember that the weight of the mug frequently caused cramps in my small hands. Then the
kind old dame would call me to her side and carefully wrap them in the red flannel nightgown
which she thought had a peculiar virtue from its color. She also laid me on the bed in her little
spare dark bedroom for the daily nap, an indulgence which did not seriously interfere with
my education since only reading, spelling and sewing over and over were taught.

Our tuition cost the moderate sum of eight cents a week. . . . This modest charge did not
include the fuel, for the following item was added to an autumn bill still in my possession: “If
she comes this winter, one dollar for fire-money.”

Source: Excerpt from A Dame School in Plymouth, Massachusetts by Laura Russell, from Noel Rae, Witness-
ing America: The Library of Congress Book of First-Hand Accounts of Public Life, The Viking Press, 1996.

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

Questions for Discussion

1. What educational experience impressed you the most about the dame school
described in Laura Russell’s memoir? Explain why it impressed you.

2. Prepare an announcement of vacancy for the position of dame school teacher.
Describe the desired qualifications and benefits.

3. Describe the physical environment of the dame school. What artifacts made the most
impression on you? Give reasons why.

One of the most famous teachers in colonial America was Christopher Dock, a Mennonite, who
taught in various German communities in Pennsylvania for over 50 years. Dock’s book, Schul-
ordnung, published in 1770, was the first book on pedagogy published in America. In the selec-
tion included here, Dock discusses how he “receives children at school.” As you read the material,
consider the period in history and the informal preparation of teachers.

School-Management (Schulordnung)

Christopher Dock

Concerning Friend Saur’s first question, how I receive the children at school, I proceed as
follows: the child is first given a welcome by the other children, who extend their hands to
him. Then I ask him if he will be diligent and obedient. If he promises this, he is told how to
behave; and when he can say his ABC‘s and point out each letter with his index finger, he is
put into the ABC class. When he reaches this class his father owes him a penny, and his mother
must fry him two eggs for his diligence, and the same reward is due him with each advance;
for instance, when he enters the word class. But when he enters the reading class, I owe him
a present, if he reaches the class in the required time and has been diligent, and the first day
this child comes to school he receives a note stating: “Diligent. One pence.” This means he has
been admitted to the school; but it is also explained to him that if he is lazy or disobedient his
note is taken from him. Continued disinclination to learn and stubbornness causes the pupil
to be proclaimed lazy and inefficient before the whole class, and he is told that he belongs in a
school for incorrigibles. Then I ask the child again if he will be obedient and diligent. Answer-
ing yes, he is shown his place. If it is a boy, I ask the other boys, if a girl, I ask the girls, who
among them will take care of this new child and teach it. According to the extent to which
the child is known, or its pleasant or unpleasant appearance, more or less children express
their willingness. If none apply, I ask who will teach this child for a certain time for a bird or
a writing-copy. Then it is seldom difficult to get a response. This is a description of my way of
receiving the child into school. . . .

The children arrive as they do because some have a great distance to school, others a short
distance, so that the children cannot assemble as punctually as they can in a city. Therefore,
when a few children are present, those who can read their Testament sit together on one
bench; but the boys and girls occupy separate benches. They are given a chapter which they
read at sight consecutively. Meanwhile I write copies for them. Those who have read their
passage of Scripture without error take their places at the table and write. Those who fail
have to sit at the end of the bench, and each new arrival the same; as each one is thus released
in order he takes up his slate. This process continues until they have all assembled. The last
one left on the bench is a “lazy pupil.”

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

When all are together, and examined, whether they are washed and combed, they sing a psalm
or a morning hymn, and I sing and pray with them. As much as they can understand of the
Lord’s Prayer and the ten commandments (according to the gift God has given them), I exhort
and admonish them accordingly. This much concerning the assembling of pupils. But regard-
ing prayer I will add this additional explanation. Children say the prayers taught them at home
half articulately, and too fast, especially the “Our Father” which the Lord Himself taught His
disciples and which contains all that we need. I therefore make a practice of saying it for them
kneeling, and they kneeling repeat it after me. After these devotional exercises those who
can write resume their work. Those who cannot read the Testament have had time during
the assemblage to study their lesson. These are heard recite immediately after prayer. Those
who know their lesson receive an O on the hand, traced with crayon. This is a mark of excel-
lence. Those who fail more than three times are sent back to study their lesson again. When
all the little ones have recited, these are asked again, and any one having failed in more than
three trials a second time is called “Lazy” by the entire class and his name is written down.
Whether such a child fear the rod or not, I know from experience that this denunciation of the
children hurts more than if I were constantly to wield and flourish the rod. If then such a child
has friends in school who are able to instruct him and desire to do so, he will visit more fre-
quently than before. For this reason: if the pupil’s name has not been erased before dismissal
the pupils are at liberty to write down the names of those who have been lazy, and take them
along home. But if the child learns his lesson well in the future, his name is again presented to
the other pupils, and they are told that he knew his lesson well and failed in no respect. Then
all the pupils call “Diligent” to him. When this has taken place his name is erased from the
slate of lazy pupils, and the former transgression is forgiven.

The children who are in the spelling class are daily examined in pronunciation. In spelling,
when a word has more than one syllable, they must repeat the whole word, but some, while
they can say the letters, cannot pronounce the word, and so cannot be put to reading. For
improvement a child must repeat the lesson, and in this way: The child gives me the book, I
spell the word and he pronounces it. If he is slow, another pupil pronounces it for him, and in
this way he hears how it should be done, and knows that he must follow the letters and not
his own fancy.

Concerning ABC pupils, it would be best, having but one child, to let it learn one row of let-
ters at a time, to say forward and backward. But with many, I let them learn the alphabet
first, and then ask a child to point out a letter that I name. If a child is backward or ignorant,
I ask another, or the whole class, and the first one that points to the right letter, I grasp his
finger and hold it until I have put a mark opposite his name. I then ask for another letter, etc.
Whichever child has during the day received the greatest number of marks, has pointed out
the greatest number of letters. To him I owe something—a flower drawn on paper or a bird.
But if several have the same number, we draw lots; this causes less annoyance. In this way not
only are the very timid cured of their shyness (which is a great hindrance in learning), but a
fondness for school is increased. Thus much in answer to his question, how I take the children
into school, how school proceeds before and after prayers, and how the inattentive and care-
less are made attentive and careful, and how the timid are assisted.

Further I will state that when the little ones have recited for the first time, I give the Testa-
ment pupils a verse to learn. Those reading newspapers and letters sit separately, and those
doing sums sit separately. But when I find that the little ones are good enough at their reading
to be fit to read the Testament, I offer them to good Testament readers for instruction. The

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

willing teacher takes the pupil by the hand and leads him to his seat. I give them two verses to
try upon. But if I find that another exercise is necessary after this (such as finding a passage
in Scripture, or learning a passage, in which case each reads a verse), I give only one verse,
which is not too hard for those trying to read in the Testament. If pupils are diligent and able,
they are given a week’s trial, in which time they must learn their lesson in the speller with
the small pupils and also their lesson with the Testament pupil. If they stand the test they are
advanced the next week from the spelling to the Testament class, and they are also allowed to
write. But those who fail in the Testament remain a stated time in the ABC class before they
are tested again. After the Testament pupils have recited, the little ones are taken again. This
done they are reminded of the chapter read them, and asked to consider the teaching therein.
As it is the case that this thought is also expressed in other passages of Holy Writ, these are
found and read, and then a hymn is given containing the same teaching. If time remains, all
are given a short passage of Scripture to learn. This done, they must show their writing exer-
cises. These are examined and numbered, and then the first in turn is given a hard word to
spell. If he fails the next must spell it and so on. The one to spell correctly receives his exercise.
Then the first is given another hard word, and so each receives his exercise by spelling a word

As the children carry their dinner, an hour’s liberty is given them after dinner. But as they
are usually inclined to misapply their time if one is not constantly with them, one or two of
them must read a story of the Old Testament (either from Moses and the Prophets, or from
Solomon’s or Sirach’s Proverbs), while I write copies for them. This exercise continues during
the noon hour.

It is also to be noted that children find it necessary to ask to leave the room, and one must
permit them to do this, not wishing the uncleanness and odor in the school. But the clamor
to go out would continue all day, and sometimes without need, so that occasionally two or
three are out at the same time, playing. To prevent this I have driven a nail in the door-post,
on which hangs a wooden tag. Any one needing to leave the room looks for the tag. If it is on
the nail, this is his permit to go out without asking. He takes the tag out with him. If another
wishes to leave, he does not ask either, but stands by the door until the first returns, from
whom he takes the tag and goes. If the tag is out too long, the one wishing to go inquires who
was out last, and from it can be ascertained to whom he gave the tag, so that none can remain
out too long.

To teach the uninitiated numbers and figures, I write on the blackboard (which hangs where
all can see) these figures 1234567890 far apart, that other figures can be put before and
behind them. Then I put an 0 before the 1 and explain that this does not increase the number.
Then I erase the 0 and put it after the 1, so that it makes 10. If two ciphers follow it makes
100, if three follow, 1000, etc. This I show them through all the digits. This done I affix to the 1
another 1, making 11. But if an 0 is put between it makes 101, but if it be placed after, it makes
110. In a similar manner I go through all the digits. When this is done I give them something
to find in the Testament or hymnal. Those who are quickest have something to claim for their
diligence, from me or at home.

As it is desirable for intelligent reading to take note of commas, but as the inexperienced find
this difficult, I have this rule: If one of the Testament pupils does not read on, but stops before
he reaches a comma or period, this counts one-fourth failure. Similarly if one reads over a
comma, it is one-fourth failure. Repeating a word counts one-half. Then all failures are noted,
and especially where each one has failed. When all have read, all those who have failed must

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

step forward and according to the number of errors stand in a row. Those who have not failed
move up, and the others take the lowest positions.

Regarding the correspondence, I may say that for twelve years I kept two schools, as already
said, and for four summers (during the three months that I had free owing to the harvest) I
taught school at Germantown. Then the pupils in Skippack, when I went to Sollford, gave me
letters, and when I returned, the Sollford pupils did likewise. It was so arranged that pupils
of equal ability corresponded. When one became his correspondent’s superior, he wrote to
another whose equal he tried to be.

The superscription was only this: My friendly greeting to N. N. The contents of the letter con-
sisted of a short rhyme, or a passage from Scripture, and they told something of their school
exercises (their motto for the week and where it is described, and &c.). Sometimes one would
give the other a question to be answered by a passage of Scripture. I doubt not, if two school-
masters (dwelling in one place or not) loving one another and desiring their pupils to love one
another, were to do this in the love of God, it would bear fruit.

This is a piecemeal description of how children are taught letters, and how their steps are led
from one degree to the next, before they can be brought to the aim that we have in view to the
glory of God and for their own salvation, and which will be last discussed.

Source: Excerpt from Brumbaugh, M. G. (1908). Life and works of Christopher Dock, America’s pioneer
writer on education. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, pp. 104–111.

Questions for Discussion

1. Of the teaching methods used by Schoolmaster Christopher Dock, which appear to
have been most effective? Least effective? Give reasons why.

2. Consider the variety of classroom management techniques used by Schoolmaster
Dock. To what extent are some of those classroom management techniques being
used today?

3. A variety of “ways of knowing” (such as scientific inquiry, intuition, insight, experi-
ence, logic, the senses, etc.) are embedded in any philosophy of education. Which
ways of knowing would you attribute to Schoolmaster Dock’s philosophy of


1. The Massachusetts Law of 1642 ordered
a. all schools to be private institutions.
b. compulsory education.
c. the establishment of grammar schools in every town.
d. every township of 50 households to provide a teacher.

2. Harvard College was founded in 1636 for the purpose of
a. training ministers.
b. developing an educated citizenry.
c. training leaders for colonial government.
d. training people in practical business matters.

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Section 2.7Summary and Resources

3. How did Quaker secondary schools differ from others of the time?
a. They were supported by the state.
b. They emphasized the classical curriculum.
c. They were open to minorities and both sexes.
d. They were founded by a religious organization.

4. The academy was established in response to
a. the changing economic climate of the time.
b. demands by the colleges and universities.
c. failures by town schools.
d. an order from the King of England.

5. Schooling in the mid-Atlantic colonies
a. had no significant religious influence.
b. was characterized by a pattern of pluralistic, parochial schools.
c. was paid for almost entirely by state governments.
d. was strongly influenced by Puritanism.

6. What distinguished the colony of New Jersey from the other colonies?
a. publicly supported education
b. universal elementary education
c. the higher number of colleges
d. superior secondary schools

7. Which colony was characterized by a widespread system of schools established by
various denominations?
a. Delaware
b. Pennsylvania
c. New York
d. New Jersey

8. Who had the responsibility of educating the young in the Southern colonies?
a. religious institutions
b. local government
c. state government
d. parents

9. In the New England colonies, women were most likely to be employed as teachers
a. in winter.
b. in summer.
c. for students being instructed in Latin.
d. at wages that matched those of male techers.

10. The education of minorities in colonial America
a. among African Americans was limited to free African Americans.
b. was undertaken in near total disregard for Native American culture.
c. was not allowed in colleges and universities.
d. was discouraged by the Church of England.

Answers: 1 (b); 2 (a); 3 (c); 4 (a); 5 (b); 6 (c); 7 (b); 8 (d); 9 (d); 10 (b)

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 72 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.7Summary and Resources

Chapter 2 Timeline



Georgios Kollidas/iStock/





Anthony Baggett/iStock/Thinkstock

The New York Public Library/
Art Resource, NY

Steve Campbell





1607: First permanent
English colony established
at Jamestown, Virginia.

Plymouth Bay Colony established
by the Pilgrims in Massachuse�s.

1621: Dutch
colony of New

Bay Colony
at Boston.

1635: First Latin grammar school
established in Boston.

Harvard College, �rst college in the
American colonies, founded in Boston.

�e Massachuse�s Law of 1642, the �rst
education law, is passed.

Delaware founded as a Swedish colony.

1645: First school commi�ee appointed to
oversee the operation of schools in
Dorchester, Massachuse�s.

1647: “Old Deluder Satan” Law passed.

1651: John Eliot establishes �rst
“praying town” to conver t and
“civilize” Native Americans.

1681: Pennsylvania colony
founded by the Quaker
William Penn.

Mid 1700s:
Academies introduced as providers
of a practical education (as opposed
to a classical education).

Negro Act of 1740 passed in South
Carolina prohibits teaching of slaves.

opens in

1769: Dartmouth
College established
as a college for
Native Americans.

1770: First book
on education published
in America, School
Management, wri�en by
Christopher Dock.

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 73 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.7Summary and Resources

Web Links

Benjamin Franklin

For a detailed look at Benjamin Franklin with links to videos and related articles, visit the His-
tory Channel website:

Colonial Education

Part of the History of American Education Web Project, this site provides an overview
of education in the colonies with links to important topics and figures: http://www3.nd

Plymouth Colony

A overview of the history of the Plymouth Colony with links to related videos and articles is
available at this History Channel website:

The Enlightenment

An overview of the period known as the Enlightenment with links to relevant videos and articles
is available this History Channel website:

Answers and Rejoinders to Chapter Pre-Test

1. True. The Puritans’ educational interest stemmed from the fact that they were well
educated and therefore valued education and believed it was necessary for religious
instruction and salvation.

2. True. Passed in Massachusetts, it illustrated the importance that Puritans put on
education as a key way to keep people on the correct spiritual path.

3. False. Latin grammar schools did not admit girls. Those girls who did receive sec-
ondary education did so at private schools or female seminaries.

4. True. Teachers were often viewed as assistant pastors and required to perform
various duties related to the functioning of the church.

5. False. The group most involved in educating African Americans and Native Ameri-
cans was the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SGP).

Rejoinders to Chapter Post-Test

1. This law aimed at promoting literacy and strengthening the social order by order-
ing the selectmen of each town to ascertain whether the parents or masters were
providing for the education of their wards.

2. The primary motivation for the founding of Harvard College was religious. The insti-
tution sought to ensure that there would be an educated ministry for New England.

3. The Quaker belief that all were created equal under God led to the education of both
sexes as well as the free admission of the poor, and the education of African Ameri-
cans and Native Americans.

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 74 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.7Summary and Resources

academy Secondary school in colonial
America that offered a practical education in
accounting, English, modern languages, and
the natural sciences.

apprenticeship A system for learning a
trade whereby an apprentice and master
entered into a contract for the master to pro-
vide the training and some level of education
in return for the work of the apprentice.

charity (pauper) school School operated
by one or more benefactors or denomination
groups to provide an elementary education
to the children of the poor.

dame school A “school” conducted in the
home of a local woman offering the basics of
reading and spelling to both girls and boys.

grammar school A secondary school for
boys in colonial America that taught Latin,
rhetoric, the classics, and mathematics in
preparation for college.

hornbook A board shaped like a paddle
with a sheet of parchment containing read-
ing and spelling lessons covered by a trans-
lucent sheath of cow’s horn.

indentured servant An individual who
agrees to work for a fixed number of years
for another individual in exchange for some
benefit—in the case of those in colonial
America, typically passage to the colonies.

The New England Primer A beginning
reading textbook used in colonial America
constructed using religious themes.

Old Deluder Satan Law A Massachusetts
law enacted in 1647 requiring towns of
50 households or more hire a teacher to
teach children to read and write and towns
of 100 households or more to provide a
grammar school.

old field schools Schools located in old
sheds or rough schoolhouses on abandoned
tobacco fields offering a basic education for
a small fee.

4. Many of the early proponents of the academies such as Benjamin Franklin’s were
proponents of a practical education to prepare the skilled craftsmen, businessmen,
and farmers needed for the growing colonial economy.

5. The middle colonies were founded by colonists with diverse religious backgrounds,
resulting in a pattern of pluralistic, parochial schools.

6. New Jersey distinguished itself in the realm of higher education. Prior to the Revolu-
tionary War, it had founded more colleges than any other colony.

7. Since the Pennsylvania colony was very tolerant of other religions, a number of dif-
ferent religious groups settled in, and each of these groups tended to segregate itself
and operate its own school.

8. The Southern colonies were royal colonies administered by governors responsible
directly to the king. Additionally, the Church of England, the established state church,
asserted that parents were responsible for educating their children.

9. Women were hired in summer to teach younger children and also older girls. During
summer, most older boys were working on the family farm.

10. The various denominations actively engaged in the education of Native Americans
practiced both deculturation of tribal culture and enculturation of English ideas and

Key Terms

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 75 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Section 2.7Summary and Resources

private venture schools A form of for-
profit school operating both elementary and
secondary schools in colonial America.

Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel An Anglican missionary society
that supported the work of clergymen and
schoolmasters in converting and educating
minorities, females, and poor children.

town (common) schools Public elemen-
tary schools operating at the local level,
open to all classes, ages, and sexes, and sup-
ported by student tuition and fees.

web81394_02_c02_033-076.indd 76 3/27/14 1:32 PM

Week 1 Discussion 1

No child Left Behind 1968
– “This law, which reauthorizes the ESEA of 1965 and replaces the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, mandates high-stakes student testing, holds schools accountable for student achievement levels, and provides penalties for schools that do not make adequate yearly progress toward meeting the goals of NCLB” (Sass, E. J. (2020, December 22).This law was designed to help raise test scores and help schools with low achieving.

Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka 1954-The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case desegregated America’s public schools, but most minority students still attend schools where they are the majority. “On May 17th, the U.S. Supreme Court announces its decision in the case of Brown v. Board. of Education of Topeka, ruling that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” thus overturning its previous ruling in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Brown v. Board of Education is actually a combination of five cases from different parts of the country. It is a historic first step in the long and still unfinished journey toward equality in U.S. education”( Sass, E. J. (2021, March 13).

1965 – The

 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

 is passed on April 9. It provides federal funds to help low-income students, which results in the initiation of educational programs such as Title I and bilingual education. (Sass, E. J. (2021, March 13). The ESEA helps close the gap between low- and high-income students. It is one of the largest federal funds in the United States. Title 1 is part of the No Child Left Behind.


On March 11

the World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic

. Two days later, President Trump declares a national emergency. 

States close schools

, and many colleges and universities 

suspend “in-person classes.”

(Sass, E. J. (2021, March 13). This was one of the longest shutdown that schools had experience. During this time education seemed to have come to a stop. Virtual education was introduced to so many students. This national wide global pandemic Covid 19 made education become a real crisis.


Sass, E. J. (2020, December 22). American educational history: Some helpful links (Links to an external site.). American Educational History.

Sass, E. J. (2021, March 13). American educational history: A hypertext timeline (Links to an external site.). American Educational History.

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