Friday, December 28, 2012

Founding Friday: Benjamin Rush

Do you recognize this signature from the Declaration of Independence? I encourage you to get to know this Founding Father. We can learn a lot from the men and women who built this great country.

Benjamin Rush (Jan 4, 1746 - Apr 19, 1813) is relatively unknown today, despite all that he did to help prosper America. He was known as the "Father of American Medicine" because of his numerous medical discoveries, and the "Father of American Psychiatry," found on his grave to this day. He was also known as the "Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution" because he was the first to advance the idea of free public schools and was a pioneer for women's education. He helped Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams) by establishing the Young Ladies Academy of Philadelphia, one of America's first educational institutions for women.

He wrote textbooks, formed curriculum plans, crafted educational policies, and helped establish five universities and colleges. This is what the founder of public education in America had to say about what education should contain:
The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty; and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments....We waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity, by means of the Bible; for this divine book, above all others favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws.
This is just a small facet in the life of Benjamin Rush, as he was an eminent physician, writer, educator, humanitarian and was popular among his peers. Check out his words and his contributions because you probably didn't learn very much, if any, about him in public education.

It's ironic to see how the founder of public education in America wanted the Bible to be at the core of student curriculum.  Yet today, carrying a Bible into a public school is prohibited and is to some as threatening as a gun.

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