The Origins of the Theory of Western Education
Plato placed strong emphasis on method of study as the road to proper knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge required intellectual exercise and the use of reason.
-- William van Til, 1974
Theory is defined as a statement of principles which, when applied, would lead to action that is consistent with given objectives. Evolution is defined as the process of change from one form to another but providing a continuum. Applied to its original definition, evolution implies that living species slowly change from one form to another over a long period of time. For example, one can say that buds evolve into flowers, or that modern automobiles have evolved from ancient carriages, or, as is often stated, man has evolved from the ape. When one speaks of the evolution of climate, continents, planets, or heavenly bodies, one speaks of them as taking a slow and orderly change. Therefore, the evolution of the theory of education in the United States must begin with a discussion of thought processes in ancient Greece. It is not possible to discuss any aspect of the history of the United States without taking into account developments in Europe. The discussion of the evolution of the theory of education is no exception.
As Charles Robert Darwin defined it, the theory of evolution states that plants and animals have changed from one generation to the next and are still changing today. This study takes this line of thinking in discussing the evolution of the theory of education in the United States as having its origins in ancient Greece. Theory, as it was applied to the educational process in the colonial period, went through a process of change and is still changing today. It has evolved from placing emphasis on the teaching of religious and moral values to the teaching of secular values and racial tolerance. It has evolved from utilizing the Bible as the main textbook to utilizing videos or