Given the way the Reformation changed how Christians viewed education, it isn’t surprising that, as spiritual and cultural heirs of the Reformation, the American colonists from the very beginning were a remarkably literate people. In fact, both Americans and Europeans commented on the high degree of literacy in America…
But if America enjoyed such prodigious literacy well into the nineteenth century without anything remotely resembling our modern government school system, and without compulsory attendance laws, who was providing the education that produced it?
[Sam] Blumenfeld’s answer may surprise some: it was primarily families, and, secondarily, neighbors, tutors, and pastors, in homes, informal schools, and institutional schools. Moreover, the Christian character of the education was clear. As late as the 1830s Alexis de Tocqueville observed that education in America was everywhere under the guidance of Protestant pastors.
Shortt, B.N. (n.d.) A Foreword to Blumenfeld’s Masterpiece. Chalcedon Foundation. Available http://chalcedon.edu/faith-for-all-of-life/remembering-sam-2/a-foreword-to-blumenfelds-masterpiece/. Last accessed 30th Nov 2015.