The structure of education at any time in history is formulated from the top down. That is, the curriculum prescribed for the younger students is based on the curricula they will be expected to master as they proceed through the educational system and into the society of adults. In the beginning of America’s history, few individuals were expected to go into the professions and become part of the ruling class.
Those who would become leaders were known almost from birth. No woman would become a doctor or mayor, making a girl’s education easy to plan. Only wealthy families could spare their sons for the long years of education necessary for the professions. Most families depended on their sons to work the family farm or business from a young age. For most, apprenticeships were the most education they could hope for. For the remaining few who aspired to professions, their education would be a classical Christian education.
Classical Christian Schools
While the majority of students who attended elementary schools in the early days of our country learned very basic, simple skills, the higher classes were either educated at home by hired instructors or attended classes held by those with a higher education such as their church’s minister.
The one-room school house taught students to read for the purpose of reading the Protestant Bible. The lessons for the professional classes began wit the Bible and continued on to teach Biblical languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Law uses Latin, while medical terms are based on classical Greek making these courses quite necessary. The students used these languages to read ancient writers for lessons in critical thinking, philosophy and rhetoric.
It is not surprising that the nearly universal studies of the Bible resulted in the defining of life and reality according to the precepts of the Bible, making almost all American education a Christian education.
Today, a family that wishes their children to pursue a Christian education has to decide whether to supplement a public school education with Christian classes or to commit to a thorough Christian education by home schooling or by enrolling their children in Christian schools. Such a choice must be made according to the family’s belief structure, local educational resources and the individual needs of the child.