Founding Father’s on Education’s Principles Patrick Capriola

Founding Fathers on Education’s Principles Patrick Capriola

The basis for government’s role in education is noted on pp. 122-124 of the Norton text. Norton highlights the contributions that many of our founding fathers played in establishing the revolutionary idea of a free public education system:

Washington to Congress, p. 122:

“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature”

Washington in his Farewell Address, p. 122:

“Promote then, as an object of primary importance, education”

Jefferson proposed to the Virginia legislature a free public education system – however the initiative was not adopted – p. 122. He was noted as believing that “education for the general citizenry was the best sageguard for liberty and the continuation of a democratic form of government” – p. 123

Madison believed that “popular government could not survive without popular information; the result of an uneducated citizenry would be a prologue to a farce or a tragedy” – p. 123.

In 1776 John Adams in “Thoughts on Government” wrote:

“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant”.

Given Adam’s vital role in persuading colonial leaders break away from England in 1776, Madison’s and Jefferson’s roles in establishing the core concepts of our founding documents, and Washington’s role in winning the revolution itself – these quotes may be the philosophical basis for education in America.

In addition to the quotes noted from our founders, President Obama provides an explanation of what education should mean to Americans in a globally competitive environment:

“And I’ve said this all across the country when I talk to parents about education, government has to fulfill its obligations to fund education, but parents have to do their job too. We’ve got to turn off the TV set, we’ve got to put away the video game , and we have to tell our children that education is not a passive activity, you have to be actively engaged in it. If we encourage that attitude and our community is enforcing it, I have no doubt we can compete with anybody in the world.” ~Barack Obama – 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate on Education

Johns Adams is often misquoted as saying “ there are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live” – – The quote was written by historian Truslow Adams in 1929. It lends itself to the role education will take on in America through career academies & vocational education in the coming years (in addition to the core content areas and electives already taught). American education is headed to teaching through both types of education. The former will develop reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills. The latter will develop specific skills related to the students interest.

Norton, M. Scott (2005).  Executive Leadership for Effective Administration.  Pearson.  Allyn & Bacon, Boston.  ISBN: 020538671-7.

Founding Fathers on Education’s Principles
Patrick Capriola

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