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Education in the Middle Colonies

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Kimberly Cuthbert-Holmes November 20, 2006 Social Studies, Period 6 Mrs. Kral Education in the Middle Colonies In the Middle Colonies, colonial leaders agreed that education was important but were not concerned with providing it. The decision of whether to educate children was left to individual families until 1683, when a Pennsylvania law was passed, requiring that all children be taught to read and write and be trained in a useful trade. Pennsylvania's first school was established in the same year. The middle colonies were characterized by schools sponsored by many different kinds of religious denominations, rather than just the Puritan Church. There was more interest in the middle colonies in practical education. William Penn and Benjamin Franklin stressed education in Pennsylvania. Middle Colonies drastically influenced the availability of schooling. In addition to these diverse cultural groups, all of which tended to want separate schools, there was no legal tradition, as there was in New England, which viewed providing schools as a major responsibility of a colonial government. Pennsylvania's case amply illustrates both these conditions. ...read more.


After the English conquered New Netherland in 1664, Dutch schools became fortresses against acculturation, which is the modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture. Dutch parents wanted to be sure their native language was taught to their children, and even refused to use English in their church services. As late as 1755, a group of Dutch parents in New York refused to hire a schoolmaster who spoke English. Instead, they doubled the schoolmaster's salary, paid all the moving expenses for a teacher and his family to come from Amsterdam, and then voted an additional bonus of �20 because Mr. Welp had suffered a loss from the quick sale of his possessions. The parents were overjoyed, reasoning that "a man who knew no English would not surreptitiously spread that commercial language, and certainly he would not favor loosening church ties with Holland." Dutch schools emphasized religious teachings by using catechism drills and including activities with prayers from the Dutch Reformed liturgy during the day. ...read more.


The building was constructed from money raised in England by Gilbert Tennent (son of the Log College's founder) and Samuel Davies, the Virginia revivalist. Princeton, which emerged from the Great Awakening's furor, was very different from the College of Philadelphia so characteristic of the newer higher education institutions which were being released from the theological moorings of the earliest colonial colleges. But for this story and its emphasis on an "English education" to produce enlightened leaders we need to look at the life of Benjamin Franklin. If Cotton Mather can be thought of as the exemplar of education in New England's Puritan tradition and Thomas Jefferson can serve as the prototype of the educated Southern aristocrat, then Franklin may be seen as the exemplar for the emerging merchant and entrepreneurial class in the Middle Colonies. Franklin, just as Jefferson, stepped out of the tradition of informal education and had much to say about schooling and practical curricula. In fact, studying the early history of the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin's Academy, this gave many insights into Franklin's life and into the educational issues with which he struggled. ...read more.

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