The Moral & Religious Phases of Education

By McDowell, William Fraser; King, Henry Churchill | Liberal Education, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

The Moral & Religious Phases of Education


McDowell, William Fraser, King, Henry Churchill, Liberal Education


Since many of the founding members were church-related colleges, several talks from the opening meeting that were published in the first issue of the Bulletin explicitly addressed the ideals of Christian education. At the same time, excerpts from the Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held in Cincinnati on February 25, 1915, and published in the first issue of the Bulletin, state: "Policy of Association as Regards Membership and Activity: On motion of President King [Oberlin] it was voted that a 'Policy of Inclusiveness and Inter-helpfulness rather than exclusiveness' be regarded and announced as the policy of the Association." Excerpts from two talks illustrate a set of assumptions made explicit in several other talks.

AAC&U has, like the founding institutions and those that subsequently joined the Association, changed over the years. The place of and questions about values in higher education, however, have been persistent themes in the Associations work from 1915 to the present. Embedded in the Association's mission and its founding members are the values of the intellectual life and the humane values of personal integrity and responsible citizenship.-EDITOR

EXCERPTS FROM "THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL OF EDUCATION"

WILLIAM FRASER MCDOWELL

Mr. Chairman and very dear Brethren: I count myself happy, first of all, to be invited to be present, and to consider with you this very important and serious matter. I shall speak as a former college president, as the president of the board of trustees of one of our own universities, and as president of the Board of Education of my own church. I do not speak primarily as a Bishop in the church. I was not always a Bishop. I led a perfectly respectable life for years, as I have been in the habit of saying, and easily remember the high estate from which I come.

Why did we set going any colleges or universities under religious auspices, ever in the history of the world? What was behind all that vast movement? What was behind it here in America? The answer would be, of course, without answering in deep and elaborate detail, that the founders of those colleges that we call Christian had it in their minds to do something that was in harmony with the churches which are called Christian, and in harmony with the homes that were called Christian. They had in their minds not simply to train a Christian ministry, and give it a higher education. They had it in their minds to train a Christian laity as well, and to furnish, under the influence of religion, that type of character that is represented in the Christian schools.

The ideal of Christian education must surely embrace these, and possibly other distinct features: First, this is our ideal: To conduct the youth committed to us through the period of collegiate or higher training under Christian influence and Christian care. Has there been a distinct reaction in our American institutions against the old theory that the college stood in loco parents? Have we pretty generally repudiated the idea that the college stands in the relation of the parent, in the place of the parent? Have we allowed the democratic, self-assertive spirit of youth, its unwillingness to submit to certain kinds of restraint, its normal desire for liberty, to cause us to abandon completely the theory of the parental relation?

It is ours to supply that kind of influence and care, and to exert, if we may, that kind of influence and care upon the youth committed to us, that will harmonize with the spirit of the Church which founded us, and the home that trusted us.

I suppose, also, that this ideal must include the teaching of the various subjects that must be pursued in all kinds of institutions, from the Christian point of view and in the Christian atmosphere. I am just as familiar as you are with the flippant sneer that there is no such thing as a Christian geometry; and from my recollection of my own experience with all higher mathematics, I am disposed to agree. …

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