A moral society can only result from an educated society

“An education was godly, ignorance the tool of the devil, and a moral society could only result from an educated citizenry” (Rubenstein 157). This quote was the bases of forming the importance of education in the wonderful state of Michigan. While many people came to Michigan from other states, education was always at the forefront of their mind for things they wanted to have. The Northwest Territory ordinance of 1787 even stated “Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged” (Rubenstein 157).

Reverend John Pierce and General Isaac Crary formulated the public school system. They word hard and did a lot of research to make our education system the best it could be at the time. The first funding for the schools came from the state selling public land. They had about 1 million acres set aside for this purpose. Then taxes from railroad, telephone and telegraph companies along with the state and inheritance taxes were used toward paying for schools. Schools would receive money for each student they had attending the school and that adhered to the state requirements of attendance.

Families also had to help with the payment of their teachers and the upkeep of the schoolhouse. Many families would even put the teachers up, and the teachers would be transient by staying at several house who would rotate the responsibility. However, because families had to aid the teachers like this, pay their salaries, and help with the upkeep of the schoolhouse, so families did not always send their children to school. They found it to be to expansive, and if their child stayed home, they had less cost, and free labor by making their child work in their fields.

Materials at first were very thin. Children would bring a book from home, mostly their family Bible for a book to learn to read on, and they would practice their writing on trays of sand because there was no paper. It was not until later they got real materials to learn with that were unified across the state. “By the 1870’s, however, readers, spellers, arithmetic books and geography texts were furnished, and many rural school districts were consolidated to form “union districts” in order to furnish a higher quality education” (Rubinstein 163).

Many teachers were unqualified and abusive. Having a requirement of being able to “defeat the strongest boy in school in a fistfight” (Rubinstein 163) caused many male teachers who just wanted the small wage they were getting rather than caring for the children. It was not until 1925 that teachers were required to have at least one year of training. So until this point education was very meager. Before this time, in the early 1900 and late 1800 education was a luxury and children were often pulled out of school.

It is no surprise that universities were hard to come by before 1855. We had one university that was able to give out diplomas, but this changed when the Republicans took over in 1855. At this point, laws were changed, and we started to see more church supported colleges and universities that were also able to give out diplomas.

Today we look at how far we have come, and while we have made great strides, we still have a ways to go.  Our education system is still failing our children today, and it is not the fault of the teachers.  Now we need to look at other things, like the restrictions we have placed on the system itself.  We are still striving to reach the society that is moral.  We have laws, but we lack the knowledge of their importance, and how they effect us.  It is important for us today to keep educating ourselves, and those around us.  because “ignorance the tool of the devil” and will help us to fail as a person, state, and country.


Works sited:


Rubenstein, Bruce A., and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, 5th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.


Grimm, Joe. Michigan Voices: Our State’s History in the Words of the People Who Lived It. Detroit Free Press, 1987.

9 thoughts on “A moral society can only result from an educated society

  1. I find it crazy how kids had to learn to read from the Bible. I feel that it would be very difficult to comprehend for students. The education system definitely received some upgrades throughout the years. I also feel that making the student’s families house the teacher was a great idea. It would help to make special bonds with your students and would allow the teacher to cut down on spending.

    1. We learned that “as settlers trickled into Michigan from the East, they brought with them the Puritan beliefs” (Rubenstein, 157) and that “during the pre-Civil War years…reading was often taught from a book the child brought from home, usually a Bible” (Rubenstein, 163). If the family had a religious background, the Bible was probably one of the few important books a household would have or could afford. It must have been interesting to learn to read by using the Bible. Many unusual names and places and events would have provided quite a workout for the reader. I also appreciated your perspective on the teacher staying in the homes of students and creating those special bonds. I just thought that not staying with families would have probably increased the overall cost involved for all the families supporting the school, so it would have been cheaper to temporarily house the teacher to save costs.

    2. I was thinking this too! For students that have trouble comprehending I feel this would be really hard to understand. It’s so much easier nowadays that we have the easy reader books to ease kids into reading.

  2. It’s interesting that even years ago they knew that they needed society being educated. But if an educated teacher was not a must have, then why did some of these teachers travel away from home to teach, instead of teaching nearby their homes? If they would have taught nearby then they would not have had to stay with students families.

    1. It had to do with jobs. Many would take any job to have a job. But once they started requiring the 1 year training period from the teachers, we saw a different type of teacher. It still was not about the pay, but now about the passion to teach. This was your career , when before it was just a job to get you by. I just wish teachers could start getting paid what they deserve. I think it’s about time. For years we have given the bare minimum to those that educate our society. And we regulate so much they do not have the ability to really teach real loo ife things these students need to know. We are telling them to baby sit and treat them as such, but expect them to produce scholars.
      We have come far, but we still have plenty of growth that needs to take place.

  3. The education system has really changed through the years. It was sad to read that some kids were not able to go to school because their parents couldn’t afford it. I also agree with your comment on how our education system is still failing our children today. The education system does not prepare us for the real world. Schools should teach us how to do our taxes or how to change a tire on a car etc.

    1. I agree with you that the education system is not teaching skills to help with the real world, but schools today also much go by a curriculum that does not include many everyday or important tasks. Schools do not have the extra time to teach how to file taxes, because that time has to be used for another subject that the state or federal government believes is more important for their later schooling success.

  4. I think it is interesting that, since parents were required to pay the teacher’s salaries, that they found it easier just to not send their children to school. It’s understandable that not everyone could afford this, and it’s sad to think that children were denied of learning because of something they had no control over. Wanting to be a teacher myself, I know that we are needed because those parents that are doctors or mechanics or engineers will not be teaching their children everything a school can. But we also are not teaching a ton of useful things. Instead of knowing how to properly do taxes, I have learned how to use the Pythagorean’s Theorem and other than math class during my college career or helping my own children with it, I will most likely never use that equation.

  5. I’m not surprised that parents kept their children from going to school in those early days. If they had to pay for their schooling and couldn’t afford it, they had no other option but to keep them home. I think most children were educated at home by helping their parents with farming, gardening, canning, woodworking, etc. Luckily the state changed how education was funded and now all students can get a free public education.

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