Cultural history of education


Education shapes the minds of citizens of sensitive age. What is taught and learned in school ultimately affects the life and character of the nation.

Questions like who should run schools, how education should be delivered, who should teach, what should students learn and how should they be taught have been with us for centuries. .

School teachers and educational reformers have always considered themselves pioneers and revolutionaries. The issues they tackle have a long history and are often unresolved, including beliefs, philosophy, educational practices, psychology, law and politics.

Origin of Judeo-Christianity

In the early days of European colonization of North America, formal education was generally organized by religious order.

The cultures of the Western European settlers who settled in the present-day territories of the United States and Canada were underpinned by the traditions and beliefs of Judaism and Christianity. Religious practices played an integral role in the lives of French and English settlers.

In early French Canada, expeditions and trade expeditions generally included three men: a merchant, a soldier, and a priest. The first pursued profit, the second secured royal interests, and the third tempered the materialistic impulses of his two others. spread Christianity to the indigenous peoples.

The development of Roman Catholic education can be traced back to 1620 when the first school was founded by the Catholic Church of Les Cols in Quebec. As a rule, until the 19th century, almost all schools in North America operated under the auspices of some Christian denomination.

famous in the British colonies mayflower compact In 1620, a Christian government was established in the North American wilderness as a religious act based on biblical law. In “Gods and Others’ Presence”, the colonists made a contract for the “better order, preservation, and promotion” of their purpose in the New World.

Since the early Pilgrims had a single Christian worldview, there was no urgent obligation to separate church and state. incorporated the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčseparation.

In the early European colonies, all education was faith-based. Everyone had to read the Bible, and children were often taught to read for religious rather than practical purposes.

Parents were generally encouraged to teach their children about the principles of the Christian religion. Biblical societies viewed education as the most important means of providing future generations with the cultural and religious institutions that sustain and develop civilization. Harvard University was founded in 1636 with a grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a training ground for Calvinist ministers.

One of the most famous American educators was Noah Webster, a devout Christian born in 1758 in West Hartford, Connecticut. During the American Revolutionary War, he was a student at Yale University.his blue back spellerfirst published in 1783, taught millions to read.

Webster, who became a Congregationalist in his later years, viewed language ability as a gift from God. He considered the famous dictionary he compiled the culmination of his work in his godly endeavours.

By the time France and England planted permanent colonies in America, virtually all schools and colleges had classical Christian roots. has been toned.

kingdom without a king

In an important new book titled “Battle of the American MindPete Hegseth and David Goodwin, authors of A Century of Eradication of Miseducation, argue that man’s vision of an orderly life, or the “good life,” is driven by a force they call “paideia.” doing.

The authors say that this spirit has “proven to be the most powerful cultural force throughout human history.” In the case of “Western Christian Paideia,” it is associated with traditional family life, worship, loyalty to the country and community, personal diligence, and moral behavior. Christian children found virtue in the worldview or “paedia” of faith and patriotism.

Hegseth and Goodwin argue that Western Christian Paideia remained unchallenged and unchanged for centuries. It combined faith and freedom and influenced entire civilizations.

Today, however, we have been so consistently taught to doubt the depth and value of all religious beliefs that we seldom think about our supposed Judeo-Christian origins.

The author of “Battle for the American Mind” claims: We are going to have a kingdom without a king. “

Attachment dissolution

In the early 19th century, the decline of Western Christian piedeia began at elite Harvard University in New England.

Harvard University became a stronghold of Unitarianism, which rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and other Christian teachings in favor of a rationalist and inclusiveist approach to belief. It has become a major source of anti-belief-based education.

While many college elites leaned toward atheism, the overwhelming majority of ordinary North Americans remained conservative in their faith, educating their children in biblical traditions until the early 20th century. Some still do so in their homes and small Christian and Jewish schools.

Over the past two centuries, conservative scholars have argued that North American schools, colleges, and universities have circled from the light of Judeo-Christian daylight to the darkness of neopaganism.

Many have noted that modern educational reformers, such as Pete Hegseth and David Goodwin, sought to change our cultural order and dissolve our attachment to Western Christian piedeia. .

Over the past two centuries, North American educators have been influenced by so-called reform movements that have done little or nothing to improve the quality of education, curriculum content, or the mission of schools.

The second part of this ongoing series on the history of education in North America examines the ominous origins of the educational reform movement.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

William Brooks


William Brooks is a Canadian author writing for the Epoch Times from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of “The Civil Conversation” of his Civitas Society in Canada.