Benjamin Franklin's Educational Philosophy
What were the key elements in the education ideas of Benjamin Franklin and how were they different from those of the past?
Benjamin Franklin found traditional schools “too ornamental” and distrusted their methods; he stressed practicality in his educational philosophy (Gutek, 1995, p. 177). Instead, he suggested that students primarily learn the English language, rather than classic languages such as Latin, in addition to other practical subjects in the classroom (Gutek, p. 177). English, which was obviously the common language used in trade in America, would allow men the ability to better converse and conduct business. Franklin also suggested that students learn a second language best selected for the field that they intended to pursue for a career. For example, a minister might learn Latin or Greek, a student pursuing a career in medicine would learn Latin, whereas a merchant might learn the language of the country with which he intended to do business.
Franklin also suggested that the English grammar school be conducted away from the Latin grammar school. Moving to a second separate school would eventually turn into the secondary school with which we are familiar in the nineteenth century. His new academy, which would later become the University of Pennsylvania, was Franklin’s “greatest single contribution to institutional education” because these schools trained many influential schoolmasters in the United States (The National Franklin Committee, 1944, p. 80).
Gutek, G. (1995). A history of the western education experience. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press Inc.
The National Franklin Committee. (1944, February). Benjamin franklin and education. The Social Studies, 79-81. Retrieved from ProQuest.
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