Ancients and Axioms

Ancients and Axioms

Ancients and Axioms

Ancients and Axioms

Excerpt

Boys in eighteenth-century New England entered school at an uncommonly early age according to our standards. They complained about it as boys usually do and probably would not have been comforted by the knowledge that they were following a practice long established in New England--and in old England as well. Much, in fact, that they did in school had long been customary; without knowing it they were participants in an English educational tradition.

This tradition in its New England setting is the subject of this book. 'When I began to read in the sources, I had no such specific concern; I was simply interested in secondary education (a term which New Englanders would not have recognized but which I have taken to mean the education given scholars between elementary and college years). I soon found that liberal education had had a long life in New England. The tradition was modified, of course; and I have discussed the changes in it (especially in Chapters 2-4 and 9-11).

What differences education made in the lives of boys--a more interesting subject even than the tradition--is one I have treated in the final chapter. It is a subject which deserves much greater study, but because I can think of no way of disentangling the results of schooling from other influences, I have discussed it only briefly. What I have done is to suggest how the tendency of several kinds of education strengthened the bent of cultural development in New England. For the most part my ideas on this matter should be read as speculations.

The research for this book was done in the libraries of Yale, Harvard, and Brown Universities, in the Connecticut Historical Society, Connecticut State Library, New Haven Colony Historical Society . . .

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