When we hear the word, "Education", it has many different meaning to different people. Education certainly had a more altruistic purpose in the time of the founders.
Certainly the Founders of America who wrote the Massachusetts
School Law of 1789 had a perception of education that differs widely from the aims of most current educations when they wrote about the importance of
“piety, justice, and a sacred regard to truth, love to their country, humanity,
and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry and frugality, chastity,
moderation and temperance, and those other virtues which are the ornament of
human society, and the basis upon which the Republican Constitution is
Here is an excerpt from the preamble of Thomas Jefferson’s Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge.: "And whereas it is generally true that that people will be happiest whose laws are best, and are best administered . . . whence it becomes expedient for promoting the public happiness that those persons whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens." Today, most schools tout their "vocational" programs as "skills for the 21st century. They are concerned with only the functional purposes of our existence, and not the higher aims of life. Jefferson would consider this type of "education" not worthy of our time and effort.
Here is Benjamin Franklin’s first line from his essay on the formation of an academy for Philadelphia: "The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of
Finally, article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance of 1785 reads: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
In our modern culture we must reconsider what it means to be truly "educated", and our template should come from the greatest minds of all time, specifically our Founders. Their aims for education were not acquire "skills", but rather knowledge and understanding that they could apply for the good.