After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

By Oliver D. Crisp; Douglas A. Sweeney | Go to book overview

2
Jonathan Edwards on Education
and His Educational Legacy

Kenneth P. Minkema

TODAY, WHEN YOU hear of “Edwardsian education,” it more than likely involves downloading online curricula, or using mobile phones and social media—so ubiquitous, and so adapted to modern technology in a global age, have pedagogical tools on Edwards and his legacy become. But what are the roots of this educational legacy in texts and training? The topic of Jonathan Edwards as an educator is something that scholars and devotées often mention but have not discussed in anything like a concerted manner. Therefore, this essay examines some aspects of Edwards’s educational thought and experience in his lifetime, and then it turns to some early figures within the Edwardsian tradition to show pedagogical changes and continuities over the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.1


Letter to Pepperrell

In regard to Edwards himself, we shall proceed not chronologically but by life course phase, from his education of children to that of young people in pastoral and collegiate settings, and then of the training of ministerial candidates. To begin with children, we must go nearly to the end of Edwards’s career, when he took up the missionary post at Stockbridge and was responsible, among other things, for maintaining boarding schools for the Indian children there. “Children,” incidentally, were for Edwards those younger than fifteen years of age.2

In November 1751, he wrote a key letter to Sir William Pepperrell, the hero of Louisburg and a supporter of the Indian mission. Edwards had visited Sir

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