July 5, 2020

The Myth that Americans Were Poorly Educated before Mass Government Schooling

Early America had widespread literacy and a vibrant culture of learning.

Parents the world over are dealing with massive adjustments in their children’s education that they could not have anticipated just three months ago. To one degree or another, pandemic-induced school closures are creating the “mass homeschooling” that FEE’s senior education fellow Kerry McDonald predicted two months ago. Who knows, with millions of youngsters absent from government school classrooms, maybe education will become as good as it was before the government ever got involved.

“What?” you exclaim! “Wasn’t education lousy or non-existent before government mandated it, provided it, and subsidized it? That’s what my government schoolteachers assured me so it must be true,” you say!

The fact is, at least in early America, education was better and more widespread than most people today realize or were ever told. Sometimes it wasn’t “book learning” but it was functional and built for the world most young people confronted at the time. Even without laptops and swimming pools, and on a fraction of what government schools spend today, Americans were a surprisingly learned people in our first hundred years.

I was reminded a few days ago of the amazing achievements of early American education while reading the enthralling book by bestselling author Stephen Mansfield, Lincoln’s Battle With God: A President’s Struggle With Faith and What It Meant for America. It traces the spiritual journey of America’s 16th president—from fiery atheist to one whose last words to his wife on that tragic evening at Ford’s Theater were a promise to “visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.”

In a moment, I’ll cite a revealing, extended passage from Mansfield’s book but first, I’d like to offer some excellent, related works that come mostly from FEE’s own archives.

In 1983, Robert A. Peterson’s “Education in Colonial America” revealed some stunning facts and figures. “The Federalist Papers, which are seldom read or understood today…..read the rest of the article here:

https://fee.org/articles/the-myth-that-americans-were-poorly-educated-before-mass-government-schooling/

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Needing help for your home schooling journey: https://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/
And
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:
Information on getting started: https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/
and
Information on getting an exemption: https://hef.org.nz/exemptions/
This link is motivational: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/
Exemption Form online: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/
Beneficiaries: https://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-cate

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