Vol.XIV No.VIII Pg.6
October 1977

Our" Schools, 1840

Robert F. Turner

Continuing from last month our quote from Memoirs of A. Campbell, by Robt. Richardson (V.2, P. 467-f), we call attention to the original purpose Campbell had in founding Bethany College, We question certain practical aspects, and its church "tics;" but feel current "Our Schools" discussions will be better informed by considering these early views. RFT


"The relations of the great principles taught in the Bible to human rights and political and social freedom had for some time been partially recognized, but no one had assigned to it its proper position in respect to moral science, which had, as yet, found no better foundation than philosophy, and the study of which even was postponed to the latest period.

Mr. Campbell was convinced that a very great chasm was suffered to exist in the ordinary course of education between the primary school and the college. The almost total neglect of moral culture during this period left, he thought, pupils quite unprepared to engage in the studies and encounter the temptations of college life. He argued that there could not be any proper preparation for college without such a development of the moral faculties and such instruction as would enable students to take correct views of life and of society, and justly to recognize the obligations and responsibilities resting upon them. This preparation, imparted only in exceptional cases in home education, he thought should be assiduously communicated to all, and that a proper foundation should thus be laid for all subsequent attainments. This moral education, in his view, could be derived from no other source than the Bible, whose lessons alone furnish the proper basis for such an attainment, which he did not conceive to consist in mere instruction in the principles or in the philosophy of morality, but in the formation of character. This which had heretofore formed no part of the purpose for which schools were established, he thought should be made the chief object, believing it quite possible to form the human character by early discipline and instruction, to implant proper motives, direct the feelings in a proper course, and fix in the mind moral and religious principles. His conceptions, indeed, in regard to these points, corresponded closely with those of the eminent be Fellenberg, who for many years had been endeavoring, under many difficulties, to put his ideas into practice at Hotwyl, but of whose views Mr. Campbell does not appear to have known anything until after he had published his own.


Impressed with the great deficiency of competent teachers for schools and for the churches, Mr. Campbell had many years before conceived the plan which he now submitted... In his earnest desire, therefore, to promote the highest interests of society and to appropriate his own time and abilities to the most beneficent ends, he resolved to consecrate much of what remained to him of life in preparing for the coming generation better-instructed teachers than had been formed by the old methods."