The Harvard Curriculum in the Seventeenth Century
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Although an examination of the curriculum of seventeenth century Harvard is interesting in itself, it more importantly provides us with valuable insight into the Puritan mindset. For example, by choosing to emphasize the study of one subject over another, the Puritans have made a value choice. They have deemed a particular subject more valuable or useful in some way than in another. Because we have records of the Puritans' choices of subject material in colonial Harvard, but not on their reasoning behind such selections, we are left to question the "whys" of their decisions. Therefore, what we are able to deduce from the Puritans' reasoning behind their actions is largely interpretational but also of utmost significance. For instance, as the reader will soon see, there exists an ongoing dispute as to whether colonial Harvard served primarily as a divinity school or as a more general educational institution. Now, neither claim is important in itself, but rather the significance lies in the different social ramifications each would bring about. Also, depending on which interpretation a reader accepts,· different religious and educational values of the Puritans would seem to be apparent. It is for the above reasons that I have studied Harvard's curriculum in the seventeenth century. As the first educational institution in the colonies, Harvard reflected both the educational values brought over from the mother country and also the colonists departure from said values. In this summary, I hope to show that the Puritans were much more intellectually-oriented than they are commonly portrayed and that education was valued not merely as a means to an end but also for its intrinsic worth.