Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Education (part 8)
From the beginning the Unitarians and socialists were the main leaders in the sustained effort for public education. If we looked into this a little further we would see that many of the leaders in Boston were also associated with Harvard University and that is where Unitarianism had its deep roots. Many of those, as we will see, who write and argue for the necessity of public education will be Harvard professors. Between 1823 and 1825 for example, James Carter, a Harvard Unitarian, published a series of essays deploring the general trend away from the common schools and advocated the expansion of public education and, very significantly, the creation of state supported teacher's seminaries. It wasn't enough that we want public education, we have to get control of the teachers' training also in order to have the right people fill the posts.
The Harvard Unitarian elite gave Carter's proposals their strongest endorsement and widest circulation. George Tiknor, of Harvard, reviewed Carter's essays and stated, "from the spirit of this age and the advantages that this country combined, we are looking for better results than have yet appeared. Mr. Owen will not accomplish them for us nor will any enthusiast, however much more generous and philanthropic or less vain and shortsighted." Now hear this, "The grand lever which is to raise up the mighty mass of this community is education. The schools hold in embryo the future communities of this land. The schools are the pillar of the republic. To these let the strong arm of government be stretched out. Over these let the wisdom of our legislatures watch."