Education

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the origin of the word “education” came from Latin. Roughly translated, it means rearing, bring up, training. Children were the most likely recipients of this training as adults tried to teach the generally accepted societal behaviors of the time.

Try as Americans may to keep religion out of public school issues today, in the past such relationships had a profound influence on the history of education in the initial years of colonization. Had the American colonies been established a century earlier, the Catholic Church would most likely have controlled the education policies and curriculum of the burgeoning system. But it was the Protestant Reformation with its various spin-off religious sects that ultimately influenced the formal “rearing” of the children of the New World. By the first half of the 17th century, education had a substantial toehold in the New England colonies and with more teachers coming out of Harvard (established in 1636), the quality was surprisingly high. However, not all colonies held education with such high regard. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that national education standards were finally established across America. The oldest school in America is Boston Latin School, established in 1635 (a year before the founding of Harvard). It is still going strong! In Taken Aback, James goes to Boston Latin to prepare for Harvard’s entrance exams. The Head Master at the time was the infamous true character, Ezekiel Cheever. As a retired teacher, I am in absolute awe of this man who enjoyed teaching for seventy years! 70 years! He earned the respect and esteem of all who knew him, or who were taught by him. He helped to forge the paths of some of America’s most significant founders. Among Boston Latin’s many famous alumni were five signers of the American Constitution. Check out who else is on the list of famous BLS alums! And as a teacher, I would feel remiss if I didn't take advantage of this page to share a fun way for children to learn more about colonial history. I can think of no better gift for the little ones in your life than the coloring books and history series by Peter F. Copeland, published by Dover Coloring Books. An excellent educational resource for children, Mr. Copeland's books bring elements and story to so many different facets of the era: village living, trades, whaling, pirates, fashion, sailing ships, Native Americans. It’s as though he based his drawings on tangible photographs. The action is frozen and as the children color, they are bound to pick up the intricate details of the everyday tools and implements of that life. Sadly Mr. Copeland died in 2007 at the age of 80, but he leaves behind a wonderful legacy of American history for our youngsters to enjoy. Thank you, Mr. Copeland!