Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
OUR EARLIER COLLEGES WERE DIVINITY SCHOOLS

THAT all the earlier colleges were primarily divinity schools is important as showing the purpose with which the teachers approached their work with their students. Our forefathers in college were carefully looked after and trained that first of all they might become orthodox Christians and church members, and then, if possible, fulfill the hopes of founders and teachers by becoming orthodox ministers. They were not left to the loose moral and mental standards which we shall show to exist to-day, which decidedly handicap students in getting full value out of their college courses and are even a worse handicap in after life. To the great teacher of former times each of his handful of pupils was an immortal soul, to be molded mentally and morally by constant personal intercourse and training during four years. The college was regarded merely as a means to train a few chosen individuals who should go out to aid a lost and struggling world, usually as ministers, missionaries or teachers. The colleges were conducted in the belief that upon them in large part depended the future of the orthodox Christian ministry. Hence Individual Training was carried to its farthest limit.

Its bearing on Individual Training.

Religious aim of earlier colleges.

"During the first period ( 1638-1692), Harvard College was conducted as a theological institution, in strict coincidence with the nature of the political constitution of the colony; having religion for its basis and chief object."1

Harvard at first a theological courses changed.

"At the outset, since Harvard was preeminently a theological seminary, the studies were chiefly theological and tended to the training of ministers for the Puritan Colony."2

In the first colleges of America, the literary course was generally theological, directly fitting graduates to enter the ministry. Later, differentiation occurred, and two courses, though more or less parallel and distinct, were established.

How theological courses changed.

____________________
1
Quincy, I, 3.
2
Thayer, 31.

-34-

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