The Education of Youth (1837)

The Education of Youth (1837)

(The Colored American for November 11, 1937) The time has come in which Education should occupy a larger place in the minds of colored Americans, than it has heretofore done. Our views have been too limited, in respect to its importance and its kind. Many have been wholly careless whether they availed themselves or not, of the advantages held out by the schools of our land, and others, who have felt the importance of the cultivation of themselves and children, have entertained very mistaken views respecting the course of study to be pursued – hence the deficiency of our schools, in number and in quality.

To read, write, an cypher, with a mere smattering of geography and grammar, have bounded our ambition, and limited our education. We have never sought after those sciences and arts, calculated to expand the mind, increases the ideas, govern the reasoning powers, and mature the judgment. The laws of mind and matter have been wholly unknown and neglected by us. If we have been busied in them both, our knowledge of them has been rather instinctive, than scientific.

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Brethren, the rising generations of our people must be led into a broader field of education. – They must no longer be left to “measure by themselves, and to compare themselves, among themselves.” All that mind and philosophy can procure for our children, should be industriously sought after.

Before our young men can rank in intelligence with their paler faced brethren, they must acquaint themselves with natural and moral philosophy, with ancient and modern history, with chemistry, mineralogy, geology, botany, natural history, church history, physiology, rhetoric, astronomy, analogy, composition, – mathematics in all its branches, and with the ancient and modern languages, and the arts generally.

All these sciences must be learned in their theory, and by suitable instruments and apparatus, reduced to their practical application. Hence the necessity of procuring the admission of our sons to the learned institutions of the land, or of providing for them suitable establishments among ourselves – well furnished with competent teachers, and all necessary apparatus, of demonstration and application.

We think it unnecessary to tell parents generally at this enlightened age, that it is their duty to educate their sons more thoroughly. A republican government cannot be maintained, without an educated people. But it may not be amiss to urge upon our people, the necessity of making more sacrifices to accomplish this desirable end. Colored Americans have as yet sacrificed nothing for the purposes of education. They have not even denied themselves the luxuries of life, that they might educate their sons. We have seen white families confine themselves to the occupancy of a single room, and to the most homely fare, in order to keep a son at a college or medical school, or at the study of the law.

We must, brethren, go and do likewise, or we never can attain to our proper level in society. – Let us consecrate to the purposes of education, a family box, and throw into it ever spare shilling, until it is full of monies, sacred to the cultivation of intellect, and to the general diffusion of knowledge among us.

In conclusion we would say, if in our power, let us procure for our sons, the advantages of manual labor institutions. We had rather pay for our boys, full price in a manual labor school, than to have their education gratuitously in any institution of a different kind.

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