History of Boarding Schools
This article is generously provided for use by TABS with permission from The Vincent/Curtis Educational Register.
In considering a boarding school for your son or daughter, know that you enter into an educational realm that had its genesis well before the Revolutionary War. Though it is not within the scope or purpose of this writing to develop a lengthy history, a brief overview of the evolution of such schools might well provide basic information which will be useful as you conduct a school search.
The Colonial Era
At its earliest stage, education in colonial days was seldom thought of as being either formal or structured. In fact, the burden of educating youth in the fledgling colonies was placed squarely on the shoulders of the family, the church, and, when possible, the community. Gradually, the “old field schools” came into existence in agrarian areas. Seasonal in nature, this early attempt at education operated around an agrarian schedule, finding small groups of students in session only when not engaged in planting, harvesting or tending to other farm related duties.
Latin Grammar Schools
These early schools were followed by the elite “Latin Grammar Schools.” Here, the focus was on classical studies, with a curriculum emphasizing the study of classical works by Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Homer, Socrates, and Hesiod. Strictly constructed and preparing the vast majority of their graduates for the clergy or positions in teaching, the Latin Grammar Schools performed the important function of college preparation for a limited number of students during the first two-thirds of 17 th century America.
With the continued growth of the colonies and the increased influence of European nations, small, one-teacher schools emerged, offering a broader curriculum and subjects which included: mathematics, modern languages, geography, rhetoric, accounting, logic, and English grammar. Private by nature and by operation, these “English Grammar Schools” could be supported only in areas where there was an adequate populace. Further, they were usually the enterprise of a single individual who alone served as headmaster, faculty, and trustee. Their permanence was ephemeral and rested solely upon the ability of the school to remain solvent. For all practical purposes, the scattered English Grammar Schools were continually clouded by financial instability. Therefore, they gradually gave way to the more successful “Academy movement,” which represented a compromise between the more practical education of the English Grammar School and the more traditional and classical education of the Latin Grammar School.
Reprinted with the permission of the Association of Boarding Schools. © 2004 The Association of Boarding Schools, All Rights Reserved.
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