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Education in Colonial America

  • Free School/Home School

    Free School/Home School
    The first "free school" in Virginia opens. However, education in the Southern colonies was more typically provided at home by parents or tutors. Impact: The school supported education for nearby parishes, and provided free education for the poor.
  • Harvard is Established

    Harvard is Established
    Harvard was founded in anticipation of the need for training clergy for the new commonwealth by the Puritans. Impact: Puritans founded Harvard during the Great Migration with the goal of training clergy. Men who were graduate of Harvard were considered superior.
  • Massachusetts Law of 1642

    Massachusetts Law of 1642
    Massachussett’s Law required parents or master see that children knew the principles of religion and capital laws of the commonwealth. Impact: It required parents ensure their children's ability to read, and five years later, the state mandated community schooling.
  • Old Deluder Satan Act

    Old Deluder Satan Act
    Puritans declared towns of more than 50 households be required to appoint someone to teach children to read & write.
    Impact: The act established the following principles of public primary and secondary education: basic education is a public responsibility, the state can require communities to expend funds for schools, that day-to-day responsibility for operation of schools rests at the local level, and that schools will be organized in levels separating elementary from secondary education.
  • Rousseau's Emile

    Rousseau's Emile
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book, Emile is published which describes his views on education. Rousseau's ideas on the importance early childhood established. Impact: Rousseau's philosophy of education was Naturalistic. He was against conventional/formal education. Rousseau believed that education does not mean teaching information or knowledge. His belief was that education should not be a burden; instead the focus should be on the development of the child's natural powers and abilities.
  • The Enlightenment

    The Enlightenment
    The Enlightenment emphasized reason shaped philosophical, political and scientific discourse from the late 17th to the early 19th century. Impact: Through education, the nation would have the opportunity to enlightened through education, allowing people would be better prepared to live as good citizens.
  • Yale is Established

    Yale is Established
    In the wake of religious debates and schisms other colleges such as Yale University are established. Impact: Cotton Mather, after a falling out with his alma mater, Harvard convinced Elihu Yale to donate money to after a schism in his relationship with Harvard. Yale was established to train Puritan clergy.
  • The Great Awakenings

    The Great Awakenings
    The First Great Awakening: British evangelist, George Whitefield arrived in Georgia in 1738, and returned in 1739. Ministers from evangelical Protestant denominations supported the Great Awakening. In the middle colonies, Whitefield influenced British, Dutch, & German churches.
    Impact: The Second Great Awakening affected education by establishing local public school systems, led by Horace Mann of Massachusetts. The literacy rate of Americans went up and people actually began to read the Bible
  • Princeton University is Established

    Princeton University is Established
    Princeton is established in New Jersey to train more clergy. Impact: Princeton was the first college established in new Jersey with Rutgers some 20 years later, both established for the purpose of training clergy for the colonies.
  • Benjamin Franklin & University of Pennsylvania

    Benjamin Franklin & University of Pennsylvania
    Benjamin Franklin helped establish the "English Academy" in Philadelphia with curriculum that was classical & modern, including history, geography, navigation, surveying, modern & classical languages. The academy became University of Pennsylvania. Impact: Franklin promoted education of African Americans. He gave assistance to the work established by Thomas Bray. Franklin donated books from his own collection, giving others the chance to see how books influenced him and helped shaped him.
  • The Revolutionary War

    The Revolutionary War
    The American Revolution was a political and military struggle waged between 1765 and 1783 when 13 of Britain's North American colonies rejected its imperial rule. Impact: The war also had a tremendous impact on the development of elementary and secondary schools. In 1789, the same year Washington became president, the Massachusetts Education Act was passed. Under this law, boys and girls would go to school at public expense in all communities with at least 200 people.
  • The New York African Free School

    The New York African Free School
    The same year the Constitutional Convention met, the Manumission society's "charity school" for free black children opened. Impact: In 1809 the school's trustees hired Charles C. Andrews, an English immigrant, to teach at the school. Under his leadership the institution grew significantly, gaining a wide reputation for success.