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Colonial Education

Guest Author - Trina Miller

One room school houses.
Boys and girls outhouses.
One teacher.

That is how education began. Children who varied in age were placed in one class together. Each child was permitted to learn at their own pace.

Paper and books were a luxury. Children had to memorize their lessons.

Early education was simple. The lessons were basic.
Reading, writing, math, and bible. (Yes, bible.)
As they aged they were prepared for plantation life. Boys were made ready to work the fields. Girls were taught to run the household.

The first school was founded nearly one hundred and fifty years before the United States were established. January 1643 in Massachusetts was born our first school. Education was not mandated. Often times children could only attend school occasionally. The first priority was taking care of the crops and the home. Most times children were permanently pulled from school in their early teens.
Education was a luxury that was not afforded to all.

Later education was public but not free. In general only upper class white children (mostly male) were taught.
Boys were to study math, foreign language, history, navigation, geography, fencing, and plantation management.

Upper class females were taught french, weaving, cooking, art, music, and household management. This was all that was needed for a woman to know how to cook, clean, have and raise children.

After the American Revolution education was considered a social priority for kindergarten through eighth grade. By 1870 all of the United States had free elementary education.

Today we do not want our daughters to train to be homemakers. We want our daughters to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, astronauts and any other field in which they wish to conquer.
We want our sons to be more than field workers, which are not as many today. To accomplish this we had to provide education past eighth grade. (I can hardly imagine an eighth grade doctor doing surgery on me.)

In order to keep up with the needs of society and and the education thereof, expansion was necessary for public education. As schooling became mandatory and our population increased, bigger schools with more teachers were required.

Our ancestors would barely recognize the public educational system. Schools with hundreds of students at one time, skilled teachers, government involvement, and further education establishments are sure to amaze.

School was simple back then because life was simple. If you had no money you were able to trade Mr. Smith a chicken for a bag of oats. You grew most of your own food.
Today we must provide cash in order to make a purchase. Wal-Mart does not deal in live chickens. In order to possess cash we must provide a service to earn the cash. If you are not properly educated then your chances of finding a job are slim to none.
Society requires that Americans be educated. Education is marked by progress. Progress, while astonishing, is rarely simple.

Although we may long for the good ole days, they have no place in this day and age. Life is to complicated to return to the simplicity of one room school houses.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Trina Miller. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Trina Miller. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Maeve Maddox for details.

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