THE educational ideals of the leaders of the first generation of Friends were lofty and original, fostered by their enthusiasm for humanity and their faith in the possibilities of human nature. They did not have to struggle against the conviction of human depravity, nor overleap a barrier between sacred and secular, nor overcome a prejudice against the natural (as distinguished from the supernatural) as if it were inherently ungodly. Their break with the rites and dogmas of the historical churches as well as with many social customs and political ties, gave them original and fresh viewpoints and encouraged educational pioneering and adventure. In an age when education was almost exclusively classical and theological, Friends generally felt the claims of "useful" and "natural" learning and aimed at the development of personality.
Two noteworthy projects in the first period of the Society's history represented educational ideals which were only partially realized in later Quaker education. One was the development of nature study and practical subjects in the curriculum. George Fox proposed that "William Tomlitison should set up a school to teach languages, together with the nature of herbs, roots, plants and trees." This idea was apparently much on Fox's mind. His initial experience brought him a sense of a new world. It baptized him into a fresh sympathy with all life and gave him a conviction of intuitive insight into the meaning of the material world. "Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword,
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Publication information: Book title: The History of Quakerism. Contributors: Elbert Russell - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1942. Page number: 155.
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