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The Influence Of Christianity On Education

2334 words - 9 pages

Society has been shaped by the principles and traditions set forth by its predecessors. In the early 1600’s, citizens from Europe immigrated to the New World for religious freedom and a new life. The New World was a vast unexplored land filled with immense opportunities unseen by the settlers of that time. Communities, colonies, and small sized governments, formed all throughout the region and societal issues began to arise. With the different issues that arose, settlers realized the importance and necessity of some type of education system. The colonist felt that “the masses had to be educated in order to understand the written religious and secular codes that the colonies were now living under” (Barger, 2004). Dame schools, grammar schools, and colleges were established all throughout the land by the church to provide religious and spiritual instruction to the coming generation. According to historian Samuel Morison, early Americans believed that, “Education is of singular benefit to the commonwealth and that it fits children for future service in the church and state” (1956, p. 67). Since the churches were in charge of the schools, its faith and different doctrinal beliefs had a major influence on the local schools. The American education system between the early 17th and 18th century was based on the foundation of Christianity.
The early American education curriculum was rooted on Christianity since it relied heavily on the use of Christian books to teach students. School masters taught lessons heavily laced with religion relying on text such as a primer (Reef, 2009, p. 4). The most common primer used by instructors at that time to teach reading and writing was the New England Primer (Mondale & Bernard, 2001, p. 21). The New England primer was a textbook that taught the alphabet by integrating Bible stories. It also contained religious and moral readings for the students to learn and memorize (Barger, 2004). Lastly, the primer contained catechism; religious questions and answers that emphasized fear of sin and God’s punishments. The purpose for the different readings and catechism in the primer was to increase a student’s reading comprehension ability as well as to learn practical spiritual lessons. Another common text used in colonial American schools was a hornbook. A hornbook was a handwritten lesson consisting of alphabets, vowels and consonant combinations, the Lord’s Prayer, and a praise of the trinity (Barger, 2004). The entire lesson was mounted on a wood and covered with transparent cow horn (Mondale & Bernard, 2001, p. 21). The hornbook was more common among younger kids and its primary function was to introduce the alphabet. Many school masters throughout the land used the primer or the hornbook to teach reading and writing to students while incorporating spiritual and moral lessons. Although these texts were very useful and enabled students to learn, the primer and the hornbook were not commonly used due to its costliness.

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