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SOME THOUGHTS ON RELIGIOUS EDUCA
Growth of Christian Schools
HE Christian religion was scarcely four hundred years old when its schools supplanted the schools of the Roman Empire. From that time on through fourteen centuries, with varying success, education remained a function of the church. For the most part the teachers were the ministers of the church or some organized body specifically trained and set aside for teaching purposes. Even when the great upheaval came in the Protestant Reformation it did not affect the relation of the church to the education of the people. Almost immediately after the Reformation there sprang up in the Roman church the Society of Jesus, one of the greatest teaching bodies known in the religious world. It was not until the close of the eighteenth century that the state took charge of the education of the masses. When education did become secular, the Sunday-school arose to supplement the work of the state schools and to continue the religious instruction of the child.
The Sunday-school became the legitimate in
heritor of the central activities of education by the church. The church did not comprehend fully, its obligation to childhood until
of the Sunday-School
the state itself took up in a serious way the problem of universal intelligence. If children require a secular education in order to fit them for the service of the state, surely they need also a religious education to fit them for the service of the church and of the higher life.
For one hundred years now we have had this dual aspect of education. The state educates for this life; the church educates for the life to come. But the church cannot properly educate for the life to come without educating for the better things of the life that is. The state provides education for children for at least twelve years. It maintains schools for upwards of eight months in each of these years. It provides edu
What the State
cation five days of each week and five hours of each of these days. It is therefore easy to compute the amount of time which the state devotes to the education of the child. Compare this with the meager time set aside by the church for the education of the child in religious things. One does not regard the contrast with complacency, and the wonder is that the results are not less meager than they are.
The state has not reached the limit of its educational concern. There are evidences on every side that additional provisions should be made and a more extended training provided. The amount of money expended in public education increases
annually. This increase is not A Growing due alone to the fact that the number of children to be educated is increasing, but is due to the fact that the people believe enough in education to expend each year more money per capita for the education of each child. The system of state education is a growing system. For example, in the United States the expenditure per capita of population for public schools in 1870 was $1.75; in 1880, $1.97; in 1890, $2.31; in 1900, $2.94; in 1902, about $3.15.
The same may be said, of course, of the Sunday-school, but its growth is not so marked nor so steady as is that of the secular school. The state wisely provides for the proper training of the teachers who are to direct the educational activity of the secular school. The church is not acting with anything like the intelligence that characterizes the state in this particular. Ought we not also to make provisions for the training of men and women to teach in the Sunday-school? When you reach this ques
What is Needed
tion, and before you formulate your reply, ask yourself the personal question, What has the church done to help me teach in the Sundayschool? Ask also the question, What should the church do to help me teach? Then ask yourself the great question, What should I do to fit myself to teach in the Sunday-school? The future of the Sunday-school depends upon our answer.
Statistics show some interesting facts. Lancaster found that out of 598 young people 518 had some form of religious awakening between the ages of twelve and twenty. According to Drew, 573 out of 756 were converted between the same ages. Gulic states that
430 out of 536 were converted between these ages. Ayres
gives 1,953 out of 2,672. Starbuck, 79 out of 100. These statistics refer to boys. The statistics for girls would probably be even more confirmatory. If the greatest gain in numbers to the church comes in these years, one can readily see how tremendously important the activity of the Sunday-school is in its soul-winning opportunity. It is also a well-known fact that the crimes common to youth increase at a very rapid rate at the age of twelve, and continue to increase for three or four years, and then gradually decrease. For example, out of a total of 964 cases of larceny committed by children under the age
of twenty-one, 85 were at the age of twelve, 116 at the age of thirteen, 154 at the age of fourteen, 155 at the age of fifteen, 167 at the age of sixteen, 105 at the age of seventeen, 57 at the age of eighteen, 34 at the age of nineteen, 14 at the age of twenty, 3 at the age of twenty-one. Substantially the same order of facts applies to incorrigibility, to vagrancy, to burglary, disorderly conduct, assaults of all sorts, public intoxication, and other misdemeanors of childhood. I do not mean to say, and nobody would be justified in saying, that the Sunday-school is responsible for these crimes, but we must necessarily feel that the Sunday-school should be one of the agencies that ought actively to combat the tendencies to these offenses, and that ought to make them a decreasing activity.
We are face to face with the fact that our secular schools cannot, in the very nature of the case, give the religious training which the child needs. All attempts to put upon the public school this responsibility must necessarily be failures. Some religious instruction is given in the secular schools. More may be given in State Education the future than at present. Tendencies in that direction manifest themselves from time to time in our discussions, and perhaps at no time has this matter received