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What made America the greatest nation in the world through the 1800’s? Was it her great natural resources? Was it her geographic isolation which made attack by European nations difficult? Was she just “lucky”, as some people explain success?
Abraham Lincoln told us why her government grew to be the strongest and freest on the face of the earth. He stated,
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
(Lincoln, Abraham. Attributed. Herald Star, Steubenville, Ohio, 1984. Stephen K. McDowell and Mark A. Beliles, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Press, 1988), p. 79; (4th printing, 1994), p. 95. Karen Morgan, People of the Past – Historical Presentations, P.O. Box 426, Cortland, Ohio, 44410, (330) 638-8606.)
It was the reason and method by which America’s children were taught in the 1800’s which produced the greatest nation on earth. Let’s look into it.
The reason, or philosophy, of education was to prepare children for the purpose for which God had created them. That is, to prepare them to receive Jesus Christ as Lord so He could live His life through them. This would let them know of their worth to their Creator and set them on a course of purpose in this life.
The method by which they were taught was known as principled education. This meant they would learn to reason every event, person, and idea back to its source. George Washington had taught us to do this when he said,
“It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being.”
(Washington, George. James K. Paulding, A Life of Washington, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835; 1836), Vol. II, pp. 208-209. Tim LaHaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & H., Pub. 1987), p. 104.)
Thus, the aim of America’s early education system was to help children reason everything back to their Creator. This is why governments, both state and national, protected the right to get the truth of the Bible to the next generation.
They used what has been called the “4 R’s” to do this: That is, Research, Reason, Relate, and Record. They taught children in the home, the church, and the school to research events, ideas, or persons. This meant they would primarily use the Bible to judge events, ideas, and people. Children came to understand that the Bible would reveal whether something or someone agreed with God’s way of thinking or satan’s way of thinking. All of life was that simple. It still is. They also used resources like Noah Webster’s original American Dictionary–the 1828 edition. If the subject was a person they’d try to interview that person, or at least read all they could of what the person actually said. By this research they would get a good grasp of the issue they needed to know about.
Then, they were taught to reason concerning that event, or idea, or person. Webster’s definition of the word reason implied that we must think in truthfulness. This necessarily meant we must “think with God.” Thus, children learned to ask God what He thought about issues. This brought the wisdom of the Holy Spirit into their education. This is the supernatural part that can’t be fully explained, but the proof is in the fruit. America became, in morals, in government, in inventions, and in business the most advanced civilization in history.
The third part of their method of education was to relate to practical living what God revealed to them about these issues. They learned to ask, “What does this mean to me, to my family, to my church, to my local community, state, and nation?” Thus, learning was not just for a test or for entertainment. It was for living life!!
The last part of their education method was to teach children to record what they had learned. They learned to write it down in complete sentences that were logical and thus, understandable to themselves and others—including future generations.
The Bible says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Think about it; because if you don’t, someone else will do your thinking for you—
and for your children! And you won’t like what that brings to you. I’m Don Pinson this has been Think About It.