Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic: Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges

Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic: Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges

Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic: Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges

Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic: Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges

Excerpt

What would seem to be undoubtedly the most important group of documents for the history of education during the colonial period in this country, but also for a full generation after the Declaration of Independence, has been strangely neglected or profoundly misunderstood. These are the so called Commencement theses printed on broadsides (large sheets of paper some 20x24 inches) and comprising lists of Latin propositions, one hundred or more in number, in logic, grammar, rhetoric, as well as in natural, mental, moral philosophy and mathematics. The thesis sheets were printed for distribution among members of the audience who on Commencement morning might choose to take part in the Public Act which was held as the culminating exercise of the examination. These broadsides were of a size and shape that made their preservation somewhat difficult so that many of them were lost and many others tucked away in libraries so that they were not easy to get at and attracted little attention. When studied they afford definite proof of a fact that has been but very little appreciated, indeed usually quite ignored. This is that Scholastic philosophy and medieval methods of teaching it survived in all the colleges of the English colonies until well beyond the American Revolution and indeed . . .

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