By Editorial Staff
Published April 22, 2008
by Stephen K. McDowell & Mark A. Beliles
THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL IN A NATION SHOULD SIMPLY BE AN EXTENSION OF THE EDUCATIONAL ROLE OF THE HOME.
Israel vs. Pagan Nations
Jewish children were taught in the home until age eight. Then some of them, as a supplement to home training, were tutored by the Levites and priests until approximately 13 years old (Galatians 4; 2 Chronicles 17:7-9). They were taught to read at age five.
Pagan children received education only if they were children of royalty or elite classes, and it usually occurred outside of the home by the state.
Christianity Reforms Pagan Educational Methods
In the first centuries of the Christian era, the Christian homes adopted the Jewish model of education. As the Church backslid, they adopted the pagan philosophy of education — that education is only for a select few, the clergy. This is one cause of bondage and ignorance of the people during the Middle Ages.
John Wycliffe of England translated the Scriptures into common English in 1382, and his itinerant preachers known as Lollards distributed them. They then began to teach the people how to read so they could learn the Scriptures. Prior to this, only priests and noblemen could read the Bible.
Education Spread During the Reformation
Education in most of Europe was corrupt when the Protestant Reformation began. Consequently, Calvin and Luther established new schools in their respective cities. Educational reform was one of the main reasons why the Puritans came to the New World and developed American educational institutions. Cotton Mather wrote:
The schools of learning and religion (in the Old World) are so corrupted as most of the fairest hopes are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples and licentious behavior in these seminaries.1
Education of the Common Man
Colonial America was unique in many ways. Each colony desired that every person be educated, not just the rich or a select few as was the case in Europe and the rest of the world. This idea of education for the common man was of Christian origin. Deuteronomy 6 reveals that it is the family’s responsibility to educate their children. God wanted ancient Israel to educate every child because the success of their nation depended upon each person knowing and living the truth of God’s Word. If the common man lost this truth, the nation lost its freedom and prosperity.
Schools were established in early America mainly because the colonists wanted their children to be able to read the Scriptures. These parents saw that it was not the government’s but their responsibility to provide Christian education.
For the first 150 to 200 years of America’s history, education was primarily centered in the home. Home education was sometimes supplemented by tutors or schools, but even here the responsibility and bulk of a child’s education rested in the home.
The model of education in Colonial America was very similar to the model used by ancient Israel. With both, education was centered in the home. This was solely the case until around the age of eight or nine. At this age, some children had tutors to further instruct them, or an even smaller number attended a school. With the Israelites, the Levites and the Priests were the tutors; with colonial Americans, the ministers were generally the tutors. If there were too many children in the minister’s community for him to go into each home to tutor, he would receive a group of children into his home. These were the first “grammar schools” and began in the late 1600’s. This would comprise a child’s education until around age thirteen when they would enter an apprenticeship program or possibly enroll in a college.
First Free Public Schools
One of the first schools in America outside the home was started in 1636 in Boston, mainly due to Rev. John Cotton’s efforts who willed half his property to the school. It was started to provide education for disadvantaged children or those with no parents.
The Christians of Colonial America also saw it as their responsibility to educate the general public. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 to “disciple the nations” was to be accomplished by “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (NKJ) The Chain of Liberty shows that education always accompanies the spread of the Gospel. The Lollards are an excellent example. They educated the common people in order that they could read the Scriptures for themselves. Education of the common man also followed the preaching of Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, and other Reformation preachers. The desire to educate every individual accompanied the Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers, and most other settlers who came to America.
The “Old Deluder Law” of 1647 established the first free public or common schools in America. Historian John Fiske writes:
In 1647 the legislature of Massachusetts enacted a law with the following preamble: “It being one chief purpose of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures,” it was therefore ordered that every township containing fifty families or householders should set up a school in which children might be taught to read and write, and that every township containing one hundred families or householders should set up a school in which boys might be fitted for entering Harvard College.2
Wages for the teachers were paid by the parents or the general inhabitants. These public schools were not under the control of a state government board, such as Horace Mann set up in Massachusetts 200 years later. The teacher’s curriculum, methodology, and administration were completely under local control.
Free public schools were also established in other towns and cities of New England over the next number of decades, but these always involved a small percentage of those being educated. The private sector, the home, and the church educated the vast majority of pupils. Samuel Blumenfeld writes that “by 1720 Boston had far more private schools than public ones, and by the close of the American Revolution many towns had no common schools at all.“3 Pennsylvania and New York had public school early, like New England but only in the cities, not in rural areas. There were no public schools in the Southern colonies until 1730, and only five by 1776.
Although public and private schools were established, the home was still where the majority of Colonial Americans were educated even up through the Revolution. Some of America’s greatest leaders and thinkers (not just of that era but including recent years) were primarily educated at home. These include such men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Alexander G. Bell, and many more.
Samuel L. Blumenfeld says:
Of the 117 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, one out of three had had only a few months of formal schooling, and only one in four had gone to college. They were educated by parents, church schools, tutors, academies, apprenticeship, and by themselves.4
It is this model that must be reclaimed in America and adopted in every other country that wishes to be be free.
1 Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, by B.F. Morris, Philadelphia, 1864, pp. 41-42.
2 The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, compiled by Verna M. Hall, San Francisco, 1980, p. 273.
3 Is Public Education Necessary? by Samuel Blumenfeld, Boise, 1985, pp. 19-20.
4 N.E.A. – Trojan Horse in American Education, by Samuel Blumenfeld, Boise, 1985.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 3, Number 1
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)