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The Massachusetts Bay School Law

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The Massachusetts Bay School Law

Upon arriving in America, the Puritans have a charter granted by the king which gives them some measure of self-government. The "Massachusetts Bay School Law" established in 1642 expressed the Puritans ideas on education, religion, and the study of a "particular" calling. Every Puritan was expected to abide by the law and to report offenders, who were consequently reprimanded or punished accordingly.

The master of the family was obliged, according to the "Massachusetts Bay School Law," to teach their children and apprentices how to read. According to the Bible, Puritans believed children were ignorant, as well as evil. Therefore, education was enforced solely and specifically for religious purposes. Children were taught to read in order to understand the scripture of God, and in hope that knowledge and understanding of the Word of God will help them flee from evil thoughts. Whether it were reading or writing, every lesson in Puritan schools derived from or pertained to the bible. The Puritans sought knowledge, therefore, not simply as a polite accomplishment, nor as a means of advancing material welfare, but because salvation was impossible without it.

Parents were responsible for educating their children, of God and his expectations, as soon as the child was capable of understanding. Although, obedient children knowledgeable of God were not necessarily guaranteed salvation, enlightenment increased their probability, as opposed to ignorant children who would most likely not be saved. Under the mandate of the "Massachusetts Bay School Law," fathers had to study, answer questions, and review the law of God (from a catechism, a book which summarizes in the form question and answers the Puritan system of Christian belief) with their children, a minimum of once a week. The purpose of this was to help children not only to memorize,



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